By Hannah Reimann
The blackberries are late this year because there was no rain for many days in July and August. It’s September 13th and I’ve got four hand-picked pints in my fridge now and a huge handful covering my buckwheat ployes for Sunday breakfast. I’m looking out at the cove 20 feet away from the deck where I sit and I see a seal catching two flopping fish and eating them, his cute face peering over to me now and then. A large bird of prey, an eagle or an osprey, soars high above eyeing the fish in the cove. The pogies have been literally jumping out of the water this year, splashing about, attracting the kingfishers who dive like torpedoes then dart back onto the top branches of the spruces. The call of birds from far away and the flapping wings of those approaching the cove tell me that they’re looking for breakfast, too. In the distance two rowers in flat boats are paddling past this inlet with their long oars.
A faun has been eating the large leaves of a half-dozen spindly-branched bushes nearby and she waits for me to leave the deck, unmoving, staring between trees forty feet away, the dainty spots on her back endearing to me. When the tide goes down, I search with binoculars for the great blue heron that my father called his “friend.” This year the heron came so close to the shore in front of me that I could see the colors and fluffiness of his neck feathers and his keen eyes.
I see the heron at every low tide, be it a colorful sunset, mist and fog or dazzling blue sky, fishing, comingling with a duck who waddles and quacks in the mud flats, gulls and terns.
This year I’ve seen more wildlife from our little peninsula on Mill Creek than I ever have because it’s my longest visit. The summer and fall have presented a daily parade of creatures unless there’s pouring rain. In that case, the wildly moving water, churning clouds and ever-changing colors provide a spectacle from the picture window.
After two alarming positive cases came and went earlier this summer, there is zero infection and zero death from COVID-19 on this island. Everyone wears masks, there is a limit to number or persons in the four or five stores that are open and there is hand-sanitizer in every business. Even though no one is sick, we are all asked to use it every time we go into any business. It’s uncrowded, it’s pretty, it’s safe.
I promise you I’m not writing this to make you jealous. George asked me to write after we spoke on the phone a number of times about my life here. I know New York is a great city. I have faith that all will be well there, again. I will be back and I look forward to being with my Village community when it gets too cold to live in my seasonal Maine home. The pandemic will not always be like this—we will all get through this and life will change for the better eventually even if it takes a couple of years.
Most of the time, I’m on my own here. I have not been lonely since I left New York on July 31st or when I was here for two weeks in June. I have learned to enjoy being alone. In my case, nature has helped me to do that. I was terribly lonely in my apartment in the Village, dodging the coronavirus wherever I thought it might be, hiding from it, taking on preventative measures every waking hour, strategizing the equipment I needed, the right way to buy food, to eat, to avoid congregating, or moving around the city very much. I learned to care for others with the help of the technology that I have come to depend upon as if my life would be lost without it.
Here in Maine, I don’t have a TV. I listen to NPR and BBC radio every day to know news all over the world. I listen differently than when I was in New York.
Please create an opportunity to spend a little time in nature; a day, a week, a drive Upstate, to Pennsylvania or to New Jersey, take a little time away from the city.
Even a day in Central Park or Prospect Park, unplugged from your devices, could change the entire week. I have found it has rejuvenated me to reflect on this unique time surrounded by nature, thinking about what we have, what we need and what we can actually do alone and for each other. If every human suddenly disappeared from the planet, the planet would be fine. My wish is that, when I return to New York, I can make a more balanced and insightful contribution, that I’ll be stronger this fall than I was last spring.