By Courtney Naliboff
I’m writing this from a point in time two weeks before the end of the school year, one day before the spring concert, and just over a week before my daughter’s preschool graduation. I’m doubled up on meetings more days than not, staring down the barrel of end of the year grades and a West Coast vacation.
Everyone around me has the same pinwheel-eyed expression. Boats are coming out of shrink wrap, gardens are going in, lawnmowers are buzzing away. Summer houses are being opened and scrubbed. The mother woodcock I spotted be-bopping across the road with three dappled, fuzzy babies trailing behind did not look relaxed.
I heard an adult recently make the statement that “there’s nothing to do here,” referring to activities for students, not to adults. But I beg to differ there as well. The last six weeks of school saw students running, throwing, and jumping; rowing and training in cold water survival; winning awards at the Eastern Maine Skippers presentation; traveling to Quebec and Prince Edward Island; performing and running a 12-show playwriting festival; and playing music.
Having “something to do” on North Haven, or in any small community, is a different game than having “something to do” in a large town or city. When I lived in Boston, my to-do list included going to see live music, eating at a restaurant, getting some work done for grad school, band practice, and “going out.” Here, while I definitely make it “out” whenever I can, my to-do list looks a lot different.
Here, the things I have to do have a direct impact on the community I live in. All my rushing around has a purpose. From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., I might be meeting with the school sustainability committee to strategize a schedule for a visiting parent interested in our magnet program. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., I might be found in the ambulance bay at a training or scheduling session. A meeting to plan a summer event might come next, a band practice, or attending a student presentation.
And those are the things I have to do out of a sense of duty. In the odd moments when I don’t have something on the schedule, there are plants to tend do, walks to go on, beaches to visit, kayaks to paddle, instruments to play, and columns to write (like this one, which is being turned in late because of the above list of things that got in the way!)
The glorious thing about island life is that there is, in fact, so much to do. Even for a kid or teen, whose mantra might be “I’m booooooored. There’s nothing to doooooo,” saying yes to the available options, taking a shift at the coffee shop, planning a club or activity, or just seizing the opportunity to bask in the sun and look at clouds are worthwhile pursuits.
We’re entering the busy time of year, so we think, but there really isn’t a time when we’re adrift without a to-do list.
And that’s the way I like it.
Courtney Naliboff teaches, plays music, and parents on North Haven.