Written by Lynn E. McElfresh
posted on October 13, 2014 12:32
One of the joys of living on an island is introducing new people to the River and island life. I’d been coming to the River for 30 years before I finally convinced my parents to come to the island. I was so happy to let them experience island life, first hand.
My father was flabbergasted. He grew up in Illinois. “A river,” he’d scoffed. “Why would anyone want to live on a river?” To my father, a river was muddy water between two high banks, which was notorious for flooding-out nearby residents. But this place, our little island, was nothing like his image of a river. “I had no idea,” he kept saying. I was astounded as his astonishment. I’d shown him pictures over the years, but it didn’t sink in. It wasn’t until he enjoyed his morning cup of coffee in our gazebo looking out at the tranquil water, that he finally understood our attraction for this place.
That was 9 years ago. Mom died in 2008. Dad hasn’t made it back to the island. He turned 96 this past July. Getting in and out of boats is impossible for him now. But I’m glad I insisted and now when I write him about our island paradise, he can think back and remember that week he spent with us.
This year we had the pleasure of introducing a new grandchild to island life. This is the best and my favorite. Seven-month-old granddaughter Brooklyn, came to the island for the first time. She sat in the same high chair her father and grandfather used and spent quality time chillin’ with the family.
Tradition on Rum Rock is to measure the height of each newcomer into the family and chart their progress through the years. Then there is the tradition a picking a seedling to be “their” tree. This white pine, like her sister’s and her older cousin’s trees, is growing up through a crack in the rocks. Doesn’t seem to slow them down much. The trees grow bigger and stronger each year.
Besides, my granddaughter, we had two other newbies to the island this year. Taylor was happy to cross over the watery border and while only in Canadian waters, it was her first trip outside the United States. My cousin’s friend, Linda, also came to the island and tried kayaking for the first time.
The whole island community organized an outing for families of Fort Drum. Five families came over on Miss Clayton. Clayton Island Tours was gracious to donate the transportation for our special day. Our island family had fun showing service families a slice of island life. The kids swam, bounced on a water trampoline, kayaked and enjoyed a picnic at our Grenell Island Community House. Some islanders hosted families at their cottages, while others pitched in by making food.
My contribution was to create a scavenger hunt that helped introduce the Fort Drum Families to island life on Grenell.
I titled it, Introduction to Island Life 101. The families had to find these island features as they walked around Grenell; each picture represented what I feel are Island Life tenets:
Introduction to Island Life 101 – Tenets:
- Forget About Work
- Sleep In
- Wake-up Smiling
- Relax on the Porch
- Go Fishing
- Feed the Ducks
- Enjoy the Seasons
- Sit on the Dock
- Hang up your Towel
- Go for a Walk
- Ride in the Boat
- Soak-Up the Sun
- Swing in the Shade
- Enjoy Wild Life
- Jump off the Dock
- Splash and Play
- Nap in a Hammock
- Gather around the fire
- Enjoy Family & Friends
- Read a Book
- Feel the Breezes
- Paddle a Kayak
- Listen to the Birds
- Watch the Sunset
- Wish On the Stars
Our guest from the farthest away, was our Japanese Foreign Exchange student. She stayed an extra month with us, so she could experience Grenell. She couldn’t wait to learn to water-ski. She was a natural. Some guests, like Yuko and my Dad, are one-time visitors only. Some fall in love with the place and plan to come back as often as they can. Can’t wait to get them booked on the calendar. Part of the joy of living on Grenell, is making island memories, one guest at a time.
By Lynn McElfresh, Grenell Island
Lynn McElfresh is a regular contributor to TI Life, writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. You can see Lynn’s 70+ articles here – as she helps us move pianos, fix the plumbing and walk with nature…
During summer 2014 Lynn researched a number of new topics that she will share throughout the winter… As Editor, I have the pleasure of seeing “what’s next,” first! I certainly join her many friends and fans in thanking her for her wonderful stories.