Wildflowers scattered the banks on both sides of us as we drove down the familiar road to the cabin.
With his head out the window, he could taste the air’s sweetness, and panted and breathed in great gulps of it. I watched him in the mirror as his dark eyes blinked against the wind. “Look at Sam!” I said to Todd. My dog entertains me with the same things over and over again.
“Do you want to stop for groceries first, or after we’re settled?” Todd asked with a quick glance at Sam.
A lifetime of memories, or at least seven summers’ worth, rolled up and down the wooden aisles with me at Mann’s grocery store. But one stood out. “Dad has decided not to sell,” I had said to Butch, the Island realtor, in front of the canned vegetables.
“That right?” He chuckled.
That was four, maybe five, years ago. The sign came down then, but it’s back up.
It was a family decision, since Mom and Dad are both gone now. People want to move on with their lives. The Island would be like an anchor weighing us down–I thought a couple months back. Now I’m not so sure.
I’m impressed with the sparkle of the cabin as I open the door to enter. The same whiff of wood and fresh air I will always remember brushes across my face.
I unpack the food, put the fruit in her pottery bowl, the bakery in her basket and set the bag of coffee beside it. I climb the stairs with Sam trailing; open up my computer on the little desk under the eave in the room I claim as mine, line up my books on the nightstand, and hang up my denim shirt.
In the kitchen, I open one of the bottles of wine we had just bought at Brothers Two, and pour our glasses. Things are picking up on the Island. There’s a new Grill and Kaayake rental place in the building that had stood vacant for at least a half dozen years near the Ferry line. I remember a lunch at the previous place when everything on the menu seemed too expensive–or I was just too broke.
I remember the years I felt claustrophobic on the Island. There was no place to run and hide, and the ferry didn’t leave till morning. I felt stuck there and I had to face my demons. But the Island has changed for me from prison to freedom. Nature became my Great Friend. The wind caressed my skin, opening my eyes to the water’s sparkle, the flickering birch leaves, and to the big old turtle taking his time crossing the road.
Maybe it was the vast span of golden wheat fields, or the cattails that lined the back roads, or the doves sitting in twos on telephone wires, or the old barns and silos, the lazy cows, or the proud stallions under the sun that took me back to the place inside myself that had been simple, had felt wonder and hope.
I can’t help but wonder now if I’m as solid as the stones on the path to the water, and no longer need a place to feel peace but have found it instead within. The water has risen.
Maybe I no longer need a path to make my way to it.