There is a quaint stone house on a secluded, private island just off the coast of Maine. Charles and Barbara first discovered the island thirty years ago and, after some serious detective work, found and convinced the owner, an elderly woman who was reluctant to sell her “little childhood treasure,” that their young family with three children would cherish and take good care of it.
The house is used as a summer residence. Living in it year-round is not an option. When storms threaten or the summer season comes to an end, winds and waves take over the island with a vengeance. From time-to-time, they also take a little something as a souvenir.
but its real lord and master is the sea.
Barbara remembers how, during one storm, their piano swayed back-and-forth on the waves, right in front of her eyes, before it was swept away. Previous waves tore two gas refrigerators from the house and took them out to the open sea. Anything in the house is at the mercy of the water.
This is the cost of living on an island off the coast of Maine.
Charles and Barbara learned early not to pay too much attention to furnishing the house. It was a “logistical inconvenience” to transport furniture by car, load the boat, and then move everything back home when summer ended.
Thus, the furnishings are simple and functional, showcasing the charm of the house’s architecture. Suitable and affordable items were found at flea markets; and rooms are decorated mostly with lamps, baskets, and fresh flowers.
If the sea comes in and takes a chair, Barbara says they can replace it without regret.
The biggest problem was securing fresh water. The previous owners had used a well, but it eventually turned into a brine. With careful planning, Charles and Barbara managed to connect to the water supply in the nearby town on the mainland. There is no electricity; the house is lit with oil lamps. Propane gas is used for refrigeration and heat.
[left to above] 1. Sitting on the deck in front of the house, Charles and Barbara can watch their “wet garden” ripple and roar as seals and dolphins frolic in the water; 2. The view stretches as far as the eye can see and disappears into the horizon. (Photos: Tria Giovan)
Admittedly, living on a secluded island isn’t for everyone. And, for some, living without electricity in such a dangerous “neighborhood” would be unbearable. Charles and Barbara, however, appreciate the nature and privacy.
in her own words
“Life by the sea teaches humility. It was supposed to be a quiet, peaceful place.” —Barbara