By Tom and Tricia Coleman, All Star 1 and Historic Star
The longer you are connected to Star, the more you come to realize that the island experience is so different for so many of us. For most, our window on Star Island is framed by the conference we attend, and indeed, it is routinely the same conference. Family conferences, theme conferences, subject conferences all have their unique vantage of the Island Experience. This informs how we see the island, its relevance, what it means to us, and what it needs from us. I have often been surprised by some old Shoalers of very long standing who have only attended the same conference for decades. Of course, there are a lot of reasons for this, good and excellent reasons. However, one can miss out on exquisite nuances of the different rhythms and pulses of the summer.
Our family are long term All Star One attendees, and we came to see the island through that view. Star Island meant the 4th of July, a very large collection of friends and family, amazing children’s programs, speakers, music, and working with a number of new Pels. It meant the relative beginning of the calendar, and the island’s adjustment to the larger family conferences. There was an ever repeated newness, a particular vibe, a certain ocean breeze. It is the Star we came to love, and the image we covet throughout the winter.
But to step forward eight weeks or so is to experience an enchanted change. As summer turns to autumn, our island changes. The sky is bluer, the breezes fresher, the water is warmer. The nights begin to bring a serene and beguiling air. Our old, familiar friend can surprise and delight us with different moods!
We love our family conference. But, the quieter, more languid pace of the end of the season brings its own compelling charms. We share the island with other conferences, offering new opportunities to meet, glimpse, share, and savor. It is a time of sometimes whimsical happenstance. Late this August, conferees stepped out of the dining hall to see the tall ship HMS Bounty tied up at the dock, and its crew perched on the porch roof of Cottage A and on the Chapel steeple, paintbrushes in hand. Later that afternoon, the same officers and crew were beside us at social hour, glasses in hand.
Over the last few years, more early season Shoalers are returning for a second bite. The pallet of experiences is full, with theme conferences, personal retreats, dancing, painting, meditation, yoga, and practice based conferences. Birders stalk migrating species, and photographers patiently wait for that certain slant of light.
Mealtimes are quixotically fun, sharing food and talk with friends you never knew you had. The smaller groups ebb and flow. You breathe, and smile, and breathe again. This is Star, unplugged. There are rich offerings of talks, lessons, experiences, or the salubrious ease to sit in the sun, or in a chair, and, rock.
Whether you have been a Shoaler for two or forty-two years, consider the other side of the calendar. Get to know a different view of Star. See the other side of summer.