#1.  I’d begin with some disclaimer, some heartfelt admission by me that it is always dicey to write about something as if one boasts some insight, because any perspective is, no matter how well informed, limited by being highly individual.  And I would confess that, as someone “from away,” it is an honor but no small challenge for me to write about Vinalhaven.  At least for this article, I’d be on some solid ground writing about some subset of summer people, as I am considered one, although I do technically exceed the literal definition (and hopefully was a “summer jerk” only very briefly – it’s a necessary and unavoidable phase of acculturation, I’m told). On-and-off throughout the year, I’m home on Old Harbor, but I do reside more of the time elsewhere, where my school-year job is, and have never endured a whole winter here. I am not a year-rounder, a transplant, nor an honest-to-God islander. I cannot claim generations preceding me here no matter how much I wish I could. All of that, of course, colors my observations. I think I should emphasize that.

#2.  Something else I might mention, since the question of how much a parent influences a child could come up. I believe the passions of a parent will not necessarily be, or may actually be guaranteed to never be, the passions of one’s children. One can only share one’s interests, and then stand back and see what happens. It’s a humbling truism I embrace: you can lead your children to the water trough, but you can’t make them drink. Or even feel thirsty.

#3.  Enough psychological underpinnings! The real point I want to ponder is that a cohort of summer people, the twenty-somethings subset who grew up spending summers on the island en familia, have come to call Vinalhaven “home” for themselves. As if when they got to vote, they chose, of their own volition, Vinalhaven. Not that it means they all live here full-time, although some do, and others live here for the duration of lobstering season every year. It seems that Vinalhaven is the home that holds their loyalty, their affection. It might be their answer to the question, “Where did you grow up?” or the question, “Where, in the whole world, would you most want to be?”

#4.  I’m developing a rationale to explain that. Vinalhaven is a bustling year-round community. A lot of hard work goes into staying economically afloat here (Yes, bad pun). Especially in the summer, there are a lot of jobs needing doing and summer kids who are interested in working, can. For the twenty-somethings I’m thinking of who are still extraordinarily attached to this island, that was what they all did – they began working here summers, from adolescence on. And I think that opportunity, to be alongside adults and kids who are year-round residents, gave them a sense of membership in the larger community. They got to know, and respect, the people who make Vinalhaven Vinalhaven. They could experience them not only as bosses, captains and crews, but also as mentors, teachers, coworkers, and colleagues. I think I’d write something like: “Even as they were growing more independent of their own families, they were joining another, becoming islanders by association. More than that they simply spent time on the island, they got to establish their own relationship with this place, the people. By virtue of working together, each party gained from the other not only familiarity, but maybe, affection too.” (Is that too sappy?)

#5. My own kids, Chris and Liam, worked on Vinalhaven every summer. And after each had graduated from college, they each spent a full year living here, one sterning on a boat, the other doing house painting and carpentry. Now, work and grad school require residences elsewhere, but those addresses almost feel like an aberration; Vinalhaven is where they “ought” to be. I can also include testimony from others. Keely Grumbach Felton told me it wasn’t just working in restaurants and the grocery, but also her inclusion in the tribe of Vinalhaven young people that made her hope she could live here full-time as an adult. And she’s done that now; married to the school’s principal and raising a young daughter, she’s director of Partners in Education and a volunteer helping launch a new childcare center.  I could also mention Susan Day Philbrook, another twenty-something who spent summers here growing up, working in restaurants, as a babysitter and in Eric Hopkins’ gallery, and who now lives here full-time, married, teaching French in the school and working at Elaine Crossman’s gallery. For her, what was significant – and palpable in the workplace – was the experience of kindness and nurturance from adults in the community.