Sounds and Scents of a Maine Island

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Sounds and Scents of a Maine Island

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In February 2020, I moved to Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine, for a job that promised to advance my career and provide time for personal introspection and growth. The island community was vibrant, and as a newcomer, I was invited to dinner parties, game nights, and book club meetings – I hardly had time to miss the family and friends I left behind in Colorado. Three weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic required me to exchange my introduction to the community for long solitary hours. Handshakes and warm hugs from new acquaintances were replaced by cold winter days and a lack of human contact.

The seclusion drove me to explore the island’s shoreline and conservation trails and intermingle with nature that was unimpeded by humans who had retreated behind the walls of their homes. Without the distraction of a companion, I noticed the wind rushing through trees, saltwater crashing against the rocks at the ocean’s edge, bald eagles screeching, chickadees singing, and small animals scurrying through tall natural grasses near the basin. I sat so still one morning that a curious, gray mink approached me and stared for a few seconds.

One November evening, while I walked along the rocky shoreline at State Beach, an estrous scent from a whitetail doe in heat wafted from the nearby woods. While the pungent odor attracted bucks, the smell assaulted my nose and distracted me from the fresh scents of saltwater, pine, and balsam. The overpowering smell suggested that the doe was close; her presence comforted me in my isolation.

I expected to integrate into my new island home through people. Instead, I became grounded in the environment, surrounded by the sounds and scents that I may have otherwise missed.

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- Sensory Experience

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This item was submitted on October 14, 2021 by Amy M. Watson using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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