Island Politics

We spent last weekend (our anniversary) on Monhegan Island.  A place my sweetheart had been many times and I (the Maine native) had never been.  It was beautiful and quiet and peaceful and isolated and all the other things that you think of when you picture a Maine island in the summer.  Oh, and over run by tourists like us, too, of course.  However, even there I could not get away from politics.   As the saying goes “All politics is local” and that is surely true on an island where the winter populations shrinks to about 50 souls.   There will be one student in the island school this year.

On the way out to the island on the Elizabeth Ann the captain, a very entertaining man, announced on the loudspeaker that he and his crew would answer any question we had, even if they needed to make up an answer, no topic was out-of-bounds, except politics.  He declared his boat a “politics free zone.”  I chuckled and watched the Atlantic Gannets dive-bombing the ocean in search of fish.

As we took our first stroll around the island after lunch we saw this sign posted, among all the other notices, on several bulletin boards:

Obviously the island was not a totally “politics free zone”, thank goodness.

Around the communal table the next morning the host of our Bed and Breakfast regaled us with tales of island politics.   Everything from the pressures of a dwindling winter population to the story of how the island came to the difficult decision to have sharp-shooters rid the island of the imported deer population.   The island had been a “research lab” for everything from the spread of Lyme Disease to the trapping of non-existent mice.  The problem is Norwegian Wharf Rats not mice.   Again and again it seems off-islanders have come to this small bump of land in the Atlantic with pre-conceived notions of what was wrong with the island and how best to cure it.   (Kind of like Washington deciding how best to help farmers through the current disastrous drought without consulting farmers.)

I was charmed by the islanders method of handling the “from aways” and their intrusions.  It seems that the usual attitude of the natives is to just sit back and let the know-it-alls bang their head against whatever particular wall they have chosen.  Only after they have exhausted themselves do the locals slide in and say “Well the reason your traps aren’t catching any mice is because the rats already ate ‘em all.”  Or something to that effect.

This is a perfect microcosm of the “just walk away” attitude that is becoming my new mantra.   The Zen approach of letting your opponents wear themselves out with futile activity while you go about your daily life.  Unruffled by their machinations.  But perhaps wryly amused at the faces they make as they strain to make their imposed solutions work.

So for a taste of island serenity, with a dash of politics as it should be, I recommend a night or two on Monhegan.   It will soothe your mind and refresh your point of view.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Looks beautiful. Glad you got away time.


  2. Thanks Tammy, it was great. And I’ve been very lucky with my “farm sitters” this summer.


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