The Working Waterfront

Not the same, but also good


Courtney Naliboff
Posted 2020-08-12
Last Modified 2020-10-04

When it became clear this spring that we weren’t going to kick this pandemic with two weeks of shutdown, the big question for many on (and off) North Haven became “what about summer?” Would summer residents be able to spend time here? What would things look like for restaurants? What about Community Days, Fourth of July games, and other traditional large gatherings?

It’s just early July, and the summer is definitely different than what we may have hoped it to be. Community Days is canceled. Fourth of July games were canceled, though the Rec Council offered T-shirts to anyone documenting themselves doing one of the games with their “isopod.”

Lobstering is uncertain, with many large markets greatly diminished. Many of those who rent their properties for some or all of the summer have suffered from the quarantine requirements imposed on those coming from all but a few states, although the allowance for negative testing may have helped ease some of that challenge.

So it isn’t a summer like we typically have, and the economic implications of that can’t be denied. But on a personal level, there are a surprising number of things I’ve found this summer that are different, but good in their own way.

For example, I went through all of the stages of grief when I learned that Calderwood Hall would only be open for takeout this summer. Some of my chief joys since they opened six years ago has been lingering there in the morning with a baked good and a hot or iced chai, writing, or gathering with friends for lunch with all our kids tangled together in the play corner. Or dinner, with a glass of cold rosé or an inventive cocktail and a crowded table of pizzas and salads. I miss it!

But getting takeout through their extremely safe and efficient curbside system and bringing it home, often to eat outside on a picnic blanket, is also good. Just different. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another excellent takeout option, Sherry’s Kitchen on Vinalhaven. I hope that when things calm down, I can still get excellent Indian food delivered to me via boat!

My daughter fully mourned the lack of a Waterman’s camp this summer. She was going to move up to the Island Explorers group this year, and was looking forward to outdoor adventures with her friends. Instead, however, we’ve been able to deeply explore the woods around our house.

We discovered a patch of currants, growing near what we call the “persistent tree,” a birch that’s grown in a strange “S” curve; closely examined all manner of insects and spiders; sat on the porch and drew plants; and we spend countless hours in our gardens and new greenhouse, taking care of the green things growing so we can enjoy their leaves, fruits, and roots later this summer.

We’ve also been able to spend much more time together as a family, much of it at beaches and swimming holes, which have been uncrowded even during our June heat wave. I’m training for a 3-mile swim as part of the LifeFlight ix2020 fundraiser, an individual challenge rather than a group swim from Lincolnville to Islesboro, and Penrose got a kayak for her birthday.

Bill often uses my paddleboard and the three of us can enjoy the water together. Ordinarily we would both likely be working, or certainly busier with shows and summer jobs. This is different, but very good.

Seeing friends isn’t off the table, but playdates have largely shifted out of doors, which is just fine. I’m happy to sit on a blanket, six feet from my friends, while our kids roam the beach looking for the sand dollar shells left after a recent migration, or visit on a porch, or share a takeout picnic.

Performing arts is in a crisis, with many beloved venues in Boston and Portland closing or in danger of closing. Bait Bag, my band, has had shows canceled through September. Waterman’s Community Center closed its physical building, other than the ATM lobby and a coffee shop window.

But, working with director Tara Elliott, who had been hired to direct their summer show before things went cuckoo, they put together a reading of Do You Read Me?, a brand-new work by Kathryn Funkhouser, designed to be performed over video chat. I had the pleasure of participating, and it was genuinely fun. Very different, and very good.

We’re lucky, dare I say privileged, to have it this good. Millions are facing unemployment, housing and food uncertainty, and we have lost beloved local businesses in the Midcoast. But if I didn’t also pause for gratitude for what we do have, and instead complained about what we don’t, I’d be remiss. This summer is very different, and I still mourn what we don’t have. But there is still so much that is very good.

Courtney Naliboff teaches, writes, plays music, and raises her daughter on North Haven.