#8 Missing

Thursday, May 6, 2010

“I don’t want to go,” Hugh told me this morning.

“That’s something I’d be saying,” I silently mused to myself as I thought about how sweet it was that he wanted to stay at home with me.

“But you’re not working tomorrow and we have half of Saturday together. Then I’ll be back in two weeks.”

Last night as lentil stew was simmering on wood cookstove I told him that I had been thinking about packing.

“You don’t need to pack anything” as he gave me a big squeeze.

“I need you to ask me to come back.” I was not going to assume anything even though my stay has been truly wonderful, our relationship has grown deeper and stronger and we had been talking that I’d be back in two weeks.

Before I got my complete sentence out he was pipping up, “Please, please come back, please come back, please???”

“Thank you, I will.” I kissed and squeezed him.

I have only two and a half days left of this stay. I’ve not done anymore yoga even though Hugh, upon reading one of my essays, told me about a furniture pad that I could use. It would probably work quite well, so maybe today. I’ve gotten a bit more done on my book, which is good. The section that I’m currently working on is the most crucial part. I’m finding it difficult to put into words (yes, even I have difficulty explaining something, thank you very much) some concepts that are fundamental to therapists, so I didn’t have to explain them in detail in the first book, but not to the layperson. In this second book I can’t make any assumptions with so it’s taking a bit more time finding the right word to write.

“It can’t get much better than this,” I mused to myself yesterday afternoon as words flowed from fingers to electronic paper. I was sitting on my bench next to the bay. The sun had decided to come out and dry everything after the morning’s cloudy drizzle. I had my “Life is Good” baseball cap and sunglasses on so I could see the computer screen better. The sun was so warm that I peeled off my coat and quickly soon after off came my sweater. The water is crystal clear, enough that you can see the bottom of the lake even at 20 feet deep. When the sun hits the waves just right, they act to magnify the image of the rocks you can also see “through” the waves to the rocks below. It’s pretty neat. As normal, gulls, American mergansers and cormorants are around.

With the sun shining down, I was quite warm even with the steady breeze. The clear water looked inviting.

“Maybe I should go in. Even briefly, at least to say that I did.”

“But it’s about 40 degrees cold in there regardless of how warm you are now.”

“But Nassau last Christmas was cold like this.”

“Even if the air temp was the same (high 50s), that water was warmer.”


“Yes, but. There’s no one around to pull you out when your entire body seizes up in frigid panic. Remember the story Hugh was telling you about when he went swimming in a lake and that was during the summer? It’s only the beginning of May. No young lady, you are not going in.”

“Oh alright, I guess you’re right. Better to be safe than sorry.”

“Good, that’s settled.”

“Well, maybe when Hugh’s home on Friday if it’s warm out.”

“It’s supposed to be colder. Remember we’re getting rain and or snow on Saturday?”

Well, arguing with oneself is sometimes pointless. The sun helped me shift out of the melancholy I had been experiencing the couple of days previous. Life certainly couldn’t get much better than it was. Well, maybe it could — having Hugh ask me to make this my Home with him in all ways, rather than just being a visitor and also having a way to support myself. In due time.


I was a little concerned, just a smidgen, that I might get lonely or bored, especially after the first week… or two… or two and a half of not interacting with anyone. Besides Hugh, the only people I’ve had interactions with is when I went to the Soo, the day I met Cal and Scott and the day we went into Drummond to get more propane and an old washtub from Scott. I’ve not been a smidgen bored or lonely. I’ve had so much to keep me busy and happy. There’s more I could do if the weather would cooperate and be nasty forcing me to stay inside. There’s been too much “it’s too nice of a day to be inside” to do inside computer work or read. I’ve taken over seven hundred photographs and still haven’t sorted through all of them. (I’m trying to figure out how to put them online where you can see them without having to have an account, like Facebook.)

The quietness of Shelter Island is refreshing. Even when we can hear the constant blustery wind or the pounding waves, the house and island are peaceful. Last night I told Hugh that he was going to laugh at the question I was about to ask. To this he laughed.

“Are we crazy for wanting to live like this?”

As expected he did laugh. When I was 18, I read Helen and Scott Nearing’s book Living the Good Life and wondered how I could do it too. They lived off the land, growing most everything themselves and for a long period of time they lived off the grid. Many consider them pioneers of the “back to the land” movement of the 1960s, even though they had been living that way since the early 30s.

“No, it’s other people who are crazy.” He responded after laughing.


In some ways it is amazing that I’ve been here two and a half weeks, eighteen days. It seems like I’ve been here longer than that. I’m learning how to tie knots (need to keep practicing) and drive the boat (need more practice). I can start a fire in both wood stoves very easily. And it’s reassuring that I can cook a complete meal including 3 dozen cookies on the wood cook stove in an hour and a half.

In other ways, especially when I look at how little on my book I’ve written, it seems like I got here just a few days ago.

I thought that I might miss things in or about Baltimore, but with a few exceptions I haven’t. The missing has come in when I’ve found myself being melancholic about leaving here. The missing of things has been that which I would soothe myself emotionally – my piano, my cat, my friends. I’ve missed being able to play the piano, it’s an emotional outlet and a creative expression for me. My photography has been an alternative creative expression. I wonder what Hugh would think about putting a baby grand in the house. That would be one heck of a boat ride. Thinking about it makes me think of the movie “The Piano.” I don’t exactly remember it, but I recall it was a sad and moving movie, in which he goes to lengths to get her a piano and then he later destroys it. Okay, perhaps it’s time to bring my flute out of retirement.

I also miss Agate, my cat. She’s turning 22 years old this August. I’m not sure how much longer she’ll live. The humid weather bothers her sinuses as she has a chronic sinus infection, chronic for 12 years now. Each year in May or June then again late August it gets worse. It’s been reassuring knowing that my housemate, Kelly, has been taking care of her. I’d seriously consider bringing her out here but can’t for two reasons. First and foremost, Hugh is allergic to cats. He was miserable in B’more with the cats (Agate and Kelly’s cat Duffy) and I’m not about to subject him to that again. And second, even though she’s been an indoor cat for years she has gone out and were she to get out she’d be quick prey to hawks or eagles. Or she’d be trying to catch mice and birds. Even though she’s old she still has her claws and all of her teeth. Hugh’s very careful about not upsetting the natural balance of nature. I want to respect that. So I’ll just have to enjoy my time with her when I visit Baltimore.

My friends, well… I hear what you are saying and we’ll just leave it at “it’s mutual.” I’m not willing to sacrifice my relationship with Hugh, for the sake of being able to do lots of things with friends. We all know that friendships can be maintained in many different ways. Thanks to technology we have electronic paper for letters and wireless signals for phone calls. Fortunately I now get both here, with the occasional dropping out of service even though I haven’t moved from my chair. It’s generally a weather or high user volume related situation. And there is something called an airplane that has been dramatically improved upon since the Wright brothers. It flies friends from where they live to other places that those friends want to visit.

The two other things that I miss are riding my mountain bike and contra dancing. Hugh has a bike here that I could ride on Drummond Island if I really wanted, but I have been so happily busy with other things that it is no big deal.

And contra dancing — well… there’s really no substitute, so you make the most of it when you have the chance. I’m definitely looking forward to Sundays at Glen Echo and Wednesdays at Lovely Lane. The week prior to coming out here I asked Hugh if there was anything I could bring him.

“Not really. Unless there is some good music to buy at the dance.” He was referring to contra dance or Irish music by whichever band happened to be playing at the contra dance that night. I bought him three new CDs. Two of them are very excellent. He’s put them one a couple of times while I’ve been making dinner. That got my toes tapping.

“Well look at you go,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, as he watched me. I spun and weaved a hay for four then did an allemande right and a do-see-do with my imaginary partners. He didn’t join in. He’s gimpy and toe tender. A few days ago he smashed his toe. He was carrying in firewood, dropped a log on his bare foot and didn’t react quick enough. As I gave it a TLC kiss I noticed that it had a cut that was soon to bleed. The cut turned into a swollen toe that quickly became deep purple. After five days of periodic icing, lymphatic drainage, and Rescue Remedy cream he’s back to walking fairly normal. Though no dancing yet.

Contra dancing really requires a line of people and isn’t something easily done with just yourself and another. So I just keep dancing with my imaginary partners between the stirring of the tapioca pudding.


No, I don’t want to go. It’s not that I don’t want to go back to Baltimore, it’s I don’t want to have be apart from Hugh or leave Shelter Island. I know I’ll enjoy my time in Baltimore, especially being with friends and helping clients. The two weeks there will go by, hopefully, quickly.

About juliemckaycovert

I am a therapist, teacher, photographer and published author. I am a lover of life and nature. My husband, Hugh, and I live off the grid on a remote 40 acre island, Shelter Island, just off of Drummond Island in the far eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This blog is about my life, a life I thought I'd never be able to live. This blog is about dreams and ideals being manifested. It is about daily events with a backwoods twist. It is about the simple pleasures and wonders being brought forth. I invite you to be inspired and even, as some friends have, live vicariously through my words.
This entry was posted in Baltimore, Birds, Contra dancing, Cooking, Off the Grid, Shelter Island, Water, Wood stove, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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