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Almost Heaven (11/02)

This island is so beautiful it really makes my heart ache! To awaken to the utter stillness...the soft sound of water, swishing trees, birds, and the savored loveliness of the quiet woods. Why, it seems to be God’s own heaven can hardly be more perfect.

Journal of Mabel Loomis Todd
Hog Island, August 1924

Are you one of those persons, like me, who collects tee shirts? Years ago I began picking up tees that would serve as reminders of places and events that have made an impact on my life. I’ve gone through two different “I hiked the canyon” shirts bought on the South Rim at Babbit’s. I’ve got a few others from favorite conferences, as well, and a couple of Emily Dickinsons picked up at different bookstores over the years.

Today I found myself pulling out a white Audubon Camp in Maine shirt, this one a Sue Schuebel design of a flock of terns descending over a sky blue background. Here it is a few hours later as I marshall my thoughts on the state of Friends of Hog Island for the newsletter, and there is still something energizing about having a remembrance of that beautiful and peaceful island near and in contact with me. It might seem a little strange, but wearing Audubon Camp tee shirts over the years has kept me grounded many a time as I make my way through the moments of my busy day. Being in touch with heaven, it seems, has a grounding effect.

My guess is that most of us who are in love with Hog Island have some picture, pine cone, or stone and shell collection that we hold in safekeeping that serves as talisman of the place. Being tangibly reminded of such beautiful habitat of spirit makes the gray of winter a little easier to endure. I’m sure Mrs. Todd, who loved her island home in Muscongus Bay intently, tucked plenty of island touchstones in her baggage for the winter to aid in her remembering the sense of wonder she found every summer on Hog Island.

Away from the island, the FOHI leadership team has been working on a few fronts since our last annual meeting in June. Ken Spirer is putting together a draft of FOHI organizational documents that will define the essence of FOHI and how it will run into upcoming decades. If all goes well, we should have a final draft to present at our annual meeting next June 11 for a member vote.

Betsy Cadbury has assembled a development committee that is working with Maine Audubon to create a long-term plan for FOHI’s role in fundraising that will provide the resources to both restore island infrastructure and build an endowment.

Jay Collier, webmaster of Nature Compass and volunteer extraordinaire, is continuing work on, an internet site that will be ready for member and public consumption some time this winter. So FOHI is alive and breathing all across the land this winter, eagerly anticipating summer 2003 when more island visitors, first time and returning, will get the chance to absorb something of the wonder of Hog Island.

As new FOHI president, I’d like to pass along a huge thank you to Art Borror and Betsy Cadbury, past president and secretary of FOHI, for their passion for the Audubon Camp and their energy in marshalling ideas that have matured into the Friends group we now enjoy. And rest assured they haven’t left the scene. Art now serves as nominations chair, while Betsy has taken on the daunting task of development chair. Again, thanks for everything, Art and Betsy.

Also, you might not have heard that Bart Cadbury, co-founder of FOHI and long-time Camp instructor and director, recently underwent heart surgery. As of this writing, daughter Betsy reports that he is doing well and is on the mend. Best of health, Bart and Ginny, from all of us. Hope to see you in June.

Finally, I would like to offer a big FOHI thank you to Maine Audubon for their commitment to the program on Hog Island. They have many responsibilities in this newly-organized Audubon world, but have invested heavily in Hog Island priorities from new roofs to upgrading electrical service to increased marketing. Many thanks to Kevin Carley, Bos Savage, Bill Hancock, and Ginger Jones for making a future for the Audubon Camp in Maine possible.

I hope to see you at the Work & Learn Week in June. In the meantime, if you have any concerns or great ideas, be in touch.