On the Island

Celia’s Invitation: A Love note from the Mainland

By Linda Anderle, Former Island Registrar

Everyone that has ever stepped foot on one or the other of the Isles of Shoals has a list of descriptive adjectives of every element contained in this grouping of islands. One need not compare the lists for they all register many of the same. It is the adverb – the modifying or qualifying of an adjective that can expresses one’s relation of place, time and circumstance of experiences gathered at the Shoals. Having stepped ashore, my view changed….

It was a yellow scrap of paper with the scribbled name Celia Thaxter. No other words to recall the reason this name was written. Had I needed to phone her? Had she come into my shop? What was I to have done for her? As it was my nature, to use tiny scraps of paper for jotting notes, when this slip of paper ‘surfaced’ again on my desk, I was puzzled. Who is she? Why did I not write more details? Days and weeks followed and now years since Celia ‘invited’ me to her home.

At the end of my third visit and a 6 weeks stay on Star 1999, I was ‘given permission’ to make yet another life changing decision to seek new soil and I was standing on it. I was actually going to be able to return and live on island for longer periods of time. The ultimate adventure of living among the Isles of Shoals.

An escapade of daily discoveries for a flat-land Texan. From Gift Shop Manager to Island Registrar and as we islanders know – everything else that is required 24/7 when living on a rock in the powerful Atlantic.

Who could have predicted the connections and revelations, including and certainly not limited to: uncovering of a Joslin relative who resided on Star in 1633 and to the achievement of collaboration in shedding new light on the artistry of Celia Thaxter?

The view: of land and sea, of vast subjects of study, of people and places. My view took a fresh light while ‘on island’ and it carries forward. Each task undertaken, each person’s path crossed and involvement in all activities have given me gifts far beyond any wrapped with paper in a box. A gift of time few have had the opportunity to embrace that is now a treasure of a lifetime.

Modify – make change, typically as to improve…

Qualify – entitled to a particular benefit or privilege…

Before Star, New Mexico was home for my soul and now my spirit sails from here to there and back more times than one would think. Life was modified and qualified after a night on island. To have participated was a privilege. The spirit of the Shoals never fails us just as Celia’s sunrise never fails us.

Will I come back? It’s not a question for I have not left.