Posted by: tflana | July 12, 2018

Volunteer Day on Island


   Brian and I took two days to visit with family at the Flanagan family reunion on Prospect Lake, near Great Barrington, MA. We arrived back last night and knew by taking a few days off, we would be behind schedule getting the yardwork done before guests arrive on Thursday. I had a game plan for Wednesday when the volunteers were coming out to work for the day, Brian and I would work on the yard and trails, and the volunteers would start scraping the paint off the north side of the Keeper’s Cottage. This all seemed logical and was what we thought up until about 8:30 this morning. I received a call from Annie Harris, the Essex Heritage Director, letting us know the storm windows for the Assistant Keeper’s House were on the Naumkeag along with Heather and 3 volunteers. The Game Plan has now changed!


When the Naumkeag arrived, we quickly unloaded the 9 storm windows and used the ATV and cart to move them to the cottage, thank goodness we had extra hands to help. Today, the volunteers were Tom, Ingrid and Bill, whom have been out on each volunteer day and are always willing to help with anything needing to get done. And did we need them today! The new plan was to install the storm windows today while we had help, especially the 2nd floor windows. Brian is not a big fan of heights and I can’t even imagine how he and I would have gotten these windows done by ourselves, the upstairs windows took 5 of us to complete. Ingrid and I were responsible for ladder stabilization, Tom was inside making sure all was in line and functioning, and Bill & Brian carried, climbed and mounted the windows while on top of the ladders.


During the day, I did get the yard mowed and the trails cut for the overnight guests tomorrow night to enjoy. Ingrid helped by cutting the bittersweet from the trails before I went through with the lawn mower and she did all the dead heading in the gardens. Heather started the scraping of the north wall on the keeper’s cottage and, later Ingrid joined her. Between the 6 of us, we accomplished so much in only 7 hours, what a great group to work with and in the end, everyone was smiling. After the volunteers went back home, Brian and I finished the yard work, put away all our tools and finally sat down in the sun parlor absolutely exhausted.

Heather on scaffolding

Heather, the island coordinator, putting some time in on the scaffolding scraping the north wall of the cottage

Brian Tom and Bill finishing up with a smile

Tom, Bill, and Brian ended their day with a smile

     One of the fun things I enjoy is watching the nature of the island. Most people know I am obsessed with the beach baby seagulls, Larry, Moe & Curly. But when we came back from Great Barrington, the milkweed and thistle are in bloom and the bees and monarchs are everywhere. This is a sign of a healthy ecosystem on the island, and currently with all the chemicals used to keep lawns green, we have effectively destroyed whole ecosystems for these creatures to thrive, but on the island, there aren’t chemicals used to make things greener and I have my own personal butterfly garden to enjoy.


I also wanted to share a feature of the Keeper’s Cottage with you, the skylight. The skylight certainly adds light to the upstairs hallway, but it also looks directly at Pa Baker. I am not sure if this has been part of the cottage since the original building, but it allows us to see the light shining all night long. I would love to romanticize it a little, on a cold night, maybe the keeper would get out of bed to make sure his light was still shining during the assistant keeper’s shift, or maybe Mrs. Keeper would look out to make sure her husband was safe up in the tower. The unfortunate thing about this skylight, is it was damaged this winter and is leaking a lot during the rain we have been getting. Essex Heritage is working on having it replaced this month, which will only make me want to gaze through it even more!

KH Skylight
High tide: 10:11am
Low tide: 4:09pm
Sunrise: 5:16am
Sunset: 8:20pm
Man hours worked: 18
Total man hours worked: 372


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