Wednesday, September 8, 2010

34. Island Cottage

The past two months have been frenetic, rather like an Allegro con fuoco, yet full of many good things...the AGO convention in DC, a weekend with Emily and Jeff in their new place, the Sewanee Church Musicians Conference, visits from several good friends...and full of an enormous amount of work including playing two recitals and managing a concert series. I feel like I spent the entire month of August sitting on an organ bench somewhere. As the last tremendous chord of my recital at St. Saviour's in late August resonated throughout the church, I let myself think ahead a bit...vacation, a true vacation!

For 18 years we spent some time around Labor Day in the north woods of Maine (see Homage to Spencer Pond, No. 18). This year felt like the time to try something different, so for a week we rented a cottage on Campobello, a small island roughly 10 miles off the northern coast of Maine. It is reached by means of a short bridge from Lubec, and even though a passport is needed to get through customs it is the easiest international trip I can imagine. Simply by driving over that bridge you're in friendly, bilingual Canada.

Campobello is perhaps best known as the summer home of FDR, but mainly this is a quiet and often poor place, where many people just barely get by with fishing or service jobs. The island has its share of rundown houses, abandoned trailers and trash alongside the roads. It is also an immensely beautiful place with a bold rocky coast on the east side and quiet coves and harbors on the west. There is a dramatic lighthouse where one can spot whales, seals and eagles.

I wanted long days with nothing on the schedule but hours of reading, walks along the coast and quiet candlelit dinners. I got my wish, and more. Despite intense and unusual heat we dutifully traipsed out for a hike each day and discovered the natural air-conditioning at Liberty Point. I read a fantastic book, Saturday by Ian McEwan, and evenings were spent with a simple supper and glass of wine on the deck overlooking the water and magnificent sunset. Best of all, I began each day on that same deck with a cup of coffee and some poetry and realized, this is enough. I am renewed.

And now it's back to the hectic fall routine of conducting, teaching, accompanying and practicing. As I do at this juncture every year I vow to somehow stay on top of things while at the same time looking after that part of me that needs quiet and time alone. I don't have the answer to that conundrum, but I can keep trying.