Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leg 25, Merrill Poor's Brook to Lamson's at Hopkins Point, Feb 18, 2010.

This was the first walk undertaken in falling snow, not much snow but falling continually and gently. It was also begun early, before 7, without much light and didn't lend itself very well, for the first hour or so, to photography.

I drove to Saltonstall's and left my truck there thinking that was as far as I'd get, and biked back to where Merrill Poor used to live. As it happens I got all the way around Hopkins Point and had to walk back to my bike from Lamson's. Like the leg just preceding it, what I met along the way were memories, every few feet it seemed.

As soon as I stepped on to the shore, I found myself at this stream and thought of the great smelting adventures friends and I had undertaken in the late 50's and early 60's. This, if not this one then another very nearby, was not the most productive of the smelt brooks but it was one we visited often. That may have had a lot less to do with smelt than it did with Merrill & Kay's beautiful daughters. At high tide the smelt would have found navigation a little easier than this little fish ladder presenting itself at low tide.

The area covered on this walk was not as naturally interesting as most of what I'd seen since beginning this venture, one big summer place after another in the section of town we used to call the Gold Coast. Only a few were new to me. My father and I had worked on nearly all of them and he'd had been the resident carpenter for decades at Jim Reynolds, Muriel Lewis's, Leverett Saltonstall's and others and had built a new home there between Lewis's and Saltonstall's for Muriel's daughter Eleanor Campbell and her family. A few years ago Eleanor gifted the Vinalhaven Land Trust with the Poly Cover Preserve on Calderwood Neck. As has become my practice, I've not posted the photographs of homes along the way (although I've photographed every one) concerned that some might think that an intrusion but this little cottage, certainly not typical, but shrouded as it is by all that menacing fauna, seemed a suitable subject. Clearly something is going on in there.

Durng the years I worked with my Dad on these places I came to know and grow fond of many of the summer residents. Although they were certainly understood to be wealthly, it wasn't obvious except for their island holdings. These folks were generally not pretentious nor did they seem to feel they were entitled to anything in particular other than honest service from the many residents from both islands who depended so entirely on them. Of course they depended equally on those islanders and generally each treated the other with genuine respect and thoughfulness. Now and then that allegiance was a little thin and my memory is that more often than not, not always, it was an islander, usually a caretaker, who broke the bond, perhaps presuming too much. Wonderfully outragious stories of these indescretions abound but I'll have to give them careful thought before committing any to paper. Many of these relationships, though, lasted for years, sometimes generations and the caretakers were often treated as part of the families, attending weddings and funerals and enjoying the generosity and consideration of their benefactors.
The lightly falling snow was just dusting over the deer tracks along the ever present animal trail near the shore and it was apparent that these critters had just preceded me by a half hour or so. Suddenly at this juncture where I found the perfect right angle, the tracks of a bigger deer, it's tracks were half again as large as the others, came into this path from inland and continued ahead of me. Althought the snow continued to fall there wasn't a single flake in these tracks, so fresh were they and so near at hand was this creature. I never did see him but he and I followed the same path all the way to the end of Hopkins Point and once or twice I think I heard him crashing through the underbrush ahead.
I was making repairs at Jim Reynolds in the early sixties and was under an outside deck on my back looking up through a hole left by having removed some rotted fir decking. Suddenly a face, curious about what I was doing, appeared above me. I recognized him as a regular guest of Louis Rukeyser's on Wall Street Week and told him so. He talked to me for a while and told me how much fun it was to be a regular on that show.
We we arrived at Saltonstall's one late summer for our annual meeting with the senior Senator from Massachsusetts, he presented us with a list of projects he'd like completed that winter. Wonderfully frugal, this gentle and appealing soul presented us with an old coffee can full of nails, discarded fasteners he'd collected over time. Among the projects to be undertaken was to gently 'nail' back the wallpaper in the upstairs hallway, paper that had succumbed over the years to the rigors of warm summers and cold bleak winters and the unforgiving contrast between the two.

Smith Point is defined by Perry's Creek to the west and Seal Cove to the east and southeast and rounding Hopkins Point I had a nice view of the two houses I built there, one few years ago, the other in 08. From one of these, The Bluff, the owner and the happy guests he entertains there each summer have admired the eagles nest barely visible from that vantage, on Mouse Island. I got a little closer on this walk and it is indeed an idyllic location, right in the top of a tree and perfectly accessible but just below the tops of all the sourrounding trees, giving it a little privacy.

Leg 26, this week sometime, will take me down Perry's Creek, certainly one of the most beautiful places on the island, maybe anywhere and much of which has come under the protection of the Vinalhaven Land Trust.

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