There's a cabin that's been on the small island since 1949 but has had no children laughing or playing on the large stage-like porches that wrap around three sides of its wooden face in a very long time. A swing hangs from a tall tree and glides to and fro slightly when the breeze catches it just right. The ghosts of summer's past laugh and chat under a huge covered pavilion with a cozy fire pit surrounded by chairs whose vinyl seat cushions have long ago reached a lighter shade of pale. They match the weather worn picnic tables that could easily seat 12-20. No one has sat in these chairs for a very, very long time. Yet, under the dust, and between the cobwebs linking the arms of each chair, I hear singing, crackling fires, and can smell the distinct caramelized aroma of marshmallows roasting. I see fireflies dancing in the shadows while children lie under sleeping bags on the boat dock counting stars.
I see Family. I feel Love. I sense the Magic of childhood. I cradle Memories--someone's memories--perhaps they are just my own conjuring up of ghosts from imagined happy childhoods. But I am not alone in how I feel. People I've taken to the island can feel it too. They sense, like me, that it once was a magical island because it was loved. It's abandoned now--or nearly so. I've only seen one person, a young woman about 18-20, come to the island last summer to watch the fire works you can see so well from here on the 4th of July. I imagine she was one of the children of one of the children--of one of children that make the chain of generations that played there.
I love this little neglected island. I feel protective of it. I soak up the ghosts that live there like they were my own family. On some days, I stand in the swing and remember what it's like to be small, and yet so tall, when you grab the rope handles and push your feet to the sky. I've longed to feel and see the small island being loved again. My wish came true.
I was walking by the window the other afternoon and looked over to see the swath of a bright green "something" cutting through the water at a pretty fast clip. I did a double take. Then I saw his little head under the feathers of green. It was Mr. Muskrat. He was swimming as fast as he could, head held high above the water. I swear it reminded me of Dumbo, the elephant, carrying his magic feather--this parade of one small creature collecting greens. That's him below carrying a plume of hostas from my neighbor's garden back to his burrow. This activity went on for several days. Back and forth, and back and forth. He grabbed lilacs branches (the lower ones), a few sprigs of lavender or leaves from hosta plants; then he'd jump back into the water and swim to his fortress at the edge of the small island where the tree branch says it's 2:00 o'clock. That's him on the bottom left of the photo below nearing the entrance to his home.
It's here he dives under the water to the entry of his fort. This leads me to explain why there's such a commotion, such a steady parade of activity off the small island. The back and forth, the gathering frenzy... I am quite thrilled to introduce you to Mrs. Muskrat. I just spotted her a few days ago sitting at the garden's edge as if she were pointing to what she was hungry for so the Mr. could bring it home for her. I think she's having distinct cravings. Hence, the lilac, lavender and hostas... This is her below. She stays underwater mostly--popping up now and then to peek at what the Mr. is doing.
There's new life on the island. A story is unfolding. Magic is in the air. Babies will be swimming, diving and I suppose laughing as they frolic in the water. Laughter is back on the island. At least from up here in the Tree House it certainly is. From where I'm perched high in the trees, I can see a wonderland out my window. I'll be watching for the first baby so I can snap a shot of it. They can have 8-10 babies. Oh, I cannot wait!
What a perfect place to raise a family...