I live on an island where the population of birds is greater than the number people who permanently reside here. It's a sanctuary, both actual and metaphorically, also with the sad irony that on the southern end of the peninsula houses are falling into the sea from what is a constantly eroding beach on a barrier island. For some, this strip of land is anything but a safe haven.
But on the Northern side we are tucked in safe on the inner basin, and life here is fairly constant. Here, I commune with the sea and the sky every day. I've become so attuned to the Earth's rhythms and seasons that it is largely what anchors me from one day to the next... the constant tidal flow, the position of the sun, and the wonder of everything big and small in between. Salt water is indelibly in my soul.
It's funny, it wasn't until the year we moved here that I ever even ventured to this place. I grew up less than an hour away and had heard of Plum Island, but never came here. It's not really a destination, at least not in the shiny, touristy way. It's more a fisherman's island, a birdwatcher's paradise, or a sandy shore for hearty beach-goers as the waves usually tumble roughly onto land and the current is always strong. There are not big resorts, no souvenir shops, no five star restaurants, only a modest smathering of necessary commerce largely a bait shop, a corner store, one pretty inn, and a couple of rustic eateries and watering holes. Everything else is on the mainland which is really only a hop, skip and a jump, but often feels comfortably far away.
Maybe that's why I love it here so much. The island is humble and unpretentious. It's more about the idiosyncratic nature of all things here, simple but beautiful and completely at the whim of Mother Nature, a love affair of another kind. A long stretch of beach is closed every summer due to plover nesting, the end of July we hide indoors because of the biting green heads that come and go, and the island is under constant watch for rising tides that shift the dunes, seep into homes, and sometimes threaten to wash out the one bridge that connects us to the rest of the world. To live here, you must have a certain heartiness and embrace the notion that the wildlife and the ocean dictate how things go.
I often wonder about how this place is shaping my boy's lives, this kind of unfettered and deep immersion in nature. They don't really know anything else. In the short time we've lived here, going on six years now, I've come to understand what a gift it really is and it truly has become my refuge in every way. I hope that is how they will always remember this place, this sweet time in their young lives, too.