My husband and I recently spent the weekend with good friends who live all summer on an island in the middle of a lake in Maine. Being on this island in the waning days of summer felt like existing in our own little world.
Getting to the island itself took us through dark, winding roads dense with forest. I could easily see how Stephen King conjured the sinister fate of Paul Sheldon, the character in his novel Misery who crashes his car in the forest and is rescued by a deranged fan. Finally we reached the car ferry, and after having our car secured behind a wooden block and a couple of bungee cords, the flat boat cruised out onto the moonlit lake and headed to the island.
There was a fire lit in the fireplace when we arrived at our friend’s house along the lake. Its cozy glow and the warmth of reconnecting with our friends soon banished the wooded darkness. In the morning, I arose to a spectacular view out the floor-to-ceiling windows in the main room. We were just steps from the lake, whose placid surface rolled gently across to the mainland. The clouds obscured mountains in the distance. Although there were houses nearby, I could almost imagine being alone in the world out here. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
The weekend was filled with good food and good company. We took hikes around the island with our friends and their two dogs, meeting neighbors and other canine company along the way. I took photos of the ferry and general store for a friend who remembered summering on the island when she was a child. There was a now-defunct boys’ camp with some structures still standing, and I could just picture young kids out in the woods getting dirty and learning survival skills like lighting fires. The husband of the couple we were visiting gave us a lesson in eating Maine’s specialty, lobster. The taste was truly worlds apart from anything I had ever had in a fancy restaurant.
The wife told me that she was never bored on the island, despite its remoteness. She had the numerous hiking trails and the vast lake itself for paddle-boarding and kayaking. She had her books, her husband, and her dogs for companionship. And with many of the island residents, she had taken up pickleball, a newfangled racquet sport that provides physical and social activity.
Prior to our visit, I would have thought a summer spent out on an island would be terribly isolating. Needing to drive my car onto a ferry just to go get groceries or other necessities seemed a burden. But after two days on the island, I began to see the attraction of being away from the hustle and bustle of living in a city. My friend, in fact, was dreading a return to their home in Chicago at the end of the season, which is rapidly approaching.
It’s nice to be back in familiar surroundings after a weekend away. But I have fond feelings about our visit to Maine, especially the time spent with good friends on a beautiful and rugged island with only each other’s company and the majesty of nature.