Thursday, June 19, 2008


On my Firefox toolbar I have some quick bookmarks. These are for sites that I visit everyday and click across one by one to check in. I have Christy, Amy, Yoga, and Monhegan. When I checked in on Monhegan today I saw this picture:

This is Fred Wiley and George Cabot, two of my most favorite Monhegan guys. Fred is in his 90's and still gets out to paint and go for walks. And George is so cute and tried to set me up with his son.

And then there was this picture:

You can barely make out Don Stone's white hair behind the couple. When Mark and I painted together on Monhegan it made me so happy. I can't tell you how jealous I am of these folks. Don't get me wrong, I am so happy, but I do miss my annual visit to my life on Monhegan.

The very first time I went to Monhegan, I endured this horrendous boat ride. A bitter wind, with a big swell and cold rain. I realized immediately for the first time in my life that the only thing worse than sea sickness is having someone drilling into your teeth while sitting in traffic with no air conditioning, and one of those stupid loud-car-stereo cars with the music vibrating your brain is next to you, and you are also stuck behind a overflowing garbage truck, and it's 100 degrees.

But then I landed on the most beautiful chunk of land and was immediately in a really good dream. And every year that I have gone there, the experience is always different. But each time I feel slightly off balance and deliriously distracted. When I am there I have so much energy. I have spectacular super real dreams. I paint tirelessly. Food tastes better. The air smells so sweet. The flowers are more beautiful. The people are real, fun, and hard working. I felt at home and simultaneously in humbled awe of the beauty around me.

It's amazing to think you can build a relationship with a place. Like a good old friend, she is always there, changed but still the same, year after year. Many people have visited Monhegan for 50 or 60 years. There are the lucky ones who spend the whole summer there. And then the residents who keep the place running and are the true fabric, always mending the worn spots and weaving new edges, keeping the integrity intact. She has peaceful little beaches where thousands of baby toes and easels' feet have touched. She has secret hideaways few know about. She has limitless power and fury whipping up sea foam and boldly defying hurricanes. She invites those who respect her and love her to stay, and the rest can keep away, thank you very much.

Many people have tried to express just how unique and magical Monhegan is. I can try too, but I think it always comes out trite or sappy. How could a lump of rock, one and a half miles long and not quite a mile wide, with no tourist attractions, keep so many people coming year after year? It could be the wild beauty, the great coffee and heavenly pecan bars, the unbelievable sunsets, or the people who are beyond classification. But it is so much more than that. She is an old friend now, and I miss her.


Lynn said...

You are so lucky to be able to go there every year. I have only been once. I remember how stunned I was by the majesty of the rock cliffs and all the birds whirling around. It was just rocks, sea, gray sky and birds, but it seemed surreal. I had never seen anything like it. It's been more than twenty years and I still remember that moment. It sounds like you've really made a connection with the real Monhegan people and it sounds really special. I wish I could live there, and haven't experienced one-hundrdth of what you have.

paintrly1 said...

Thank you, Lynn! Yes, I do feel so lucky! You definitely get the feeling. Monhegan will always be there for you!

ks1k said...

And it was the perfect place for your wedding.

You told your story of Monhegan in a wonderful way. I can tell that it is from your heart.


Kristin C. said...

not trite or sappy, so nicely worded.

I had never even heard of this place until I started reading your blog. It seems so homey & when I look at pictures, I know it must smell good. Weird? Maybe.

We might need to pay a visit to your favorite little island!

Pocklock said...

Wow. My husband and I LOVE Monhegan. We've only been once, but it's one of our most favorite places on earth. I loved reading your view on it. Know that I share many, if not all, of the same feelings.

Liz Swanson said...

Haven't been there, but need to look up Fred Wiley as he's a first-cousin to my dad. He painted me as a small child in a landscape and I haven't seen him since (I turn 50 this year!) And I have no idea how to contact him except thru the internet. Thanks for posting!

-Liz Swanson