Skip to main content

parish mapping and the love song of plum island



A few weeks ago at a workshop I learned about what a parish map is, and during Julia Shipley's wonderful class I spent a lot of time musing not only on past addresses, but especially on the place I call home today.  I realize now, that over this past year of shedding, a huge journey into this idea of home has emerged for me.  It's been a year of digging into the ground right beneath my feet, inviting people in, and not looking too far past my own front door for a place to create and connect.  Home is becoming the space that now is nourishing my creative life, a new pivot point of longitude and latitude both for the interior and exterior of my world.  Maybe it began with finally naming this house after living here for almost 6 years, back in the spring.  Like so many of the other personalized and claimed houses here on Plum Island, ours is now aptly called "gone wishing", part of what began the deep plunge into the heart of this place I call home.

There is something about showing someone around your own neighborhood and seeing it from an outsider's perspective that gives you new insight and appreciation for all and little things in your immediate world you might usually take for granted.  Yesterday I did just that, spent the day exploring my little island, the beaches and small nearby town, hoping to woo Elizabeth with a little Island song.  It wasn't hard.  This place sings with life and light and is deeply attuned to its own unique vibration with Mother Earth.

So fresh off that little tour, I wanted to share with you a bit of writing I did in my mapping workshop to give you a flavor of this beautiful place as well.  It was an exercise of noting points on a map, not for directional purposes, but to tell the story of a place with reference to my own orientation within it.  Here is a bit of what I wrote...

Things to do on Plum Island (and just beyond):

1.  Rent a bike and take a ride out to Sandy Point.  Bring a little bottle with you so you can collect some of the beautiful garnet sand, a tiny treasure and memory of the raw beauty there.

2.  Walk the Dune Loop trail and see the unassuming plum bushes that have given this island its name.

3.  Spy the cormorants wobbling on the telephone wires over the bridge at dusk when the light is melting into the horizon like orange and pink sherbert.

4.  See the news trucks jammed into the tiny beach parking lot during every storm, waiting for the sea to claim another house from the shores of this ever changing barrier island.

5.  Walk the beach on the northern side at low tide, and out onto the twin sandbars that formed last year from all the winter erosion.

6.  Visit the lighthouse on posted visitor days, and climb up to the top, but only if your are 4 and older!

7.  Make way for the plovers nesting all summer long, closing the southern beach at peak season and turning away tourists and sunbathers in favor of piping plover love.

8.  Watch the marsh grass grow tall and green, then fade to yellow, and then get cut and bailed into blocks or big rolls of hay dotting the open landscape like a big rural plain somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.

9.  Head into Newburyport for the local farmer's market with the best Red Gravy, my favorite shop Red Bird that I could simply move into, the yummiest grilled salad you won't even believe until you taste it, and so many little corner cafes and shops to explore and treat yourself to your heart's content.

11.  Learn to fly.  Take helicopter or an airplane flying lessons at the tiny island airport.

12.  By handmade French butter cookies, fine soaps and beautiful art, made right here on the island and inspired by locals with a passion for this place.

13.  Throw a fish trap into the basin to catch minnows and crabs who knows what else?

14.  Take a lazy walk to Mad Martha's for homespun hospitality and a delicious breakfast in a cozy little cottage style diner by the sea.

15.  In early spring, walk along where the Merrimack River meets the sea, and if you're lucky enough you might find seals basking there in the sunlight.

16.  Stay indoors the last week of July lest you become a feast for the greenhead flies that peak during that time.

17.  Watch the tide ebb.  Watch the tide flow.  Watch the sun rise.  Watch the sun set.


Maybe someday you will come visit me here!  I'd really love that.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Inner Alchemy Cards: Build A New World Deck

Our next make-your-own card adventure is finally here! Inner Alchemy Collage: Build A New World Deck (online) is an artful exploration of language, learning, inspiration, and collaboration, that delves into important ideas around activism and systems of oppression. This is a way for us to examine and disrupt harmful dominant narratives, tell new stories, and inspire one another to use our creativity and personal power to help build the collective world we all want to live in! In the end you will have a beautiful and meaningful handmade deck of 35 oracle cards to use as unique a tool for guidance and reflection whenever you need it.  I'm your host,  Mindy Tsonas Choi , an artist, organizer, radical belonging activist, and the founder of the Be Seen Project - a grassroots initiative resourcing BIPOC artist and makers working in activism. Join me along with other stellar artists, makers and co-creators who have also been exploring social justice and activism as part of their creativ

The Cost of Selling Belonging

As someone who use to sell belonging and believed I was creating something universally magical , I now have fresh eyes on the harm that I once caused. I understand what can (and was) incredibly healing and impactful for some, was at the same time excluding, marginalizing and undervaluing others. First, to anyone who ever felt like they did not belong to anything I created because they were unable to afford it or felt like they did not have the social capitol to join -  I am sincerely sorry for not seeing you sooner .   To our entire creative community as a whole, I urge us all to think about belonging in new and equitable ways, and to do the work of dismantling these hierarchical structures that leave so many people out of the circle. We all deserve to have access to creativity and belonging, and I'd go so far as to say both are fundamental basic human needs and rights. Selling belonging can look like... Creating spaces and experiences that can only be accessed by buying in at one,

what's in a name?

It’s May 14, 2020 and I’m on a transnational call with a social worker and translator of the SOS Children’s Village offices in South Korea. It’s 7pm my time and 9am the next day in Korea, which adds to the surreal quality of the moment. It is my first long distance call following my inquiry with the organization documented to be my first place of entry into the system, found in my Korean records (the acquisition of which is an incredible story in and of itself). It was July 21, 1972 and I was 5 months old. It’s a small miracle the organization still exists, and an even bigger blessing that they took such time and care in searching for information and to talk it all through with me in person. I try not to cry as the call connects. What I learn is a lot of small details about that fateful evening which amount to nothing traceable, but still feel like huge missing pieces of my life. I was left near the entrance around 7pm under a small tree, wrapped in a blanket with only a name scribble