Early on a damp Sunday morning, 21 intrepid volunteers aged 8 to 80-something steamed across Penobscot Bay through dense fog and a running flood tide. Many had never set foot on Hurricane Island before, while several had a lifetime of memories of picnics, work, or student life on Hurricane.
Island staff greeted the enthusiastic gang with an overview of the island’s history and a safety briefing. Introductions were made all around, and the group convened in the mess hall for the first feed of the day—warm muffins, coffee, and tea. Jobs were divvied up shortly after in the Weiler-Lewis Boathouse, sending work teams to the South End to assemble wall tents, up the hill to strip shingles off cabins getting renovated, and to the gardens to plant seedlings. The newly sanded classroom floor got two coats of polyurethane, a kelp drying rack was crafted, and outhouses were freshly painted.
A fantastic lunch, served by our amazing kitchen team, included buttermilk fried chicken, roasted tomato soup, grilled smoked cheddar sandwiches, and an Israeli couscous salad full of fresh veggies. The volunteers then headed back to finish projects they had started, and a big group cleared brush together around our newly built, round yurt platforms. Several ravens paid an afternoon visit to the North End of Hurricane Island (one pictured here), and while the fog never lifted, volunteers stayed dry and kept warm with the exercise, snacking on freshly baked cookies. At the end of the day, a group of 33 high school students from the Paul Cuffee School in Providence, RI, arrived for a three-day program, and we boarded Equinox again to return to Rockland, where the rain began just as we got back to our vehicles. New friendships were kindled, and everyone was smiling.
Anyone remembering our gardens in the 2014-2015 seasons will recall the straw bale gardening technique we employed. Shown here is the garden today, enriched with those two years’ of organic matter and amendments, now suitable for direct planting.
We continue to be amazed by the sheer delight our volunteers take in becoming a part of our community and the generosity of spirit that is shared throughout the day. The work they do has an exponential impact on our progress—not just because many hands allow us to get done more than we can without them, but because the enthusiasm is contagious. The big smiles shared by our volunteers with the group of charter school students setting foot on Hurricane Island for the very first time, lugging suitcases up the ramp at low tide, lifted their spirits and told them they were welcome, that this is a place for everyone, that they too will be sorry to leave but will permanently be a part of the community that is Hurricane.