When September begins I am filled with converse emotions. I am relieved to have a break from being so very busy and I revel in the time alone, while at the same time I bump around my little island life feeling such poignance and thinking, “Now what do I do?”

Every year, just before Labor Day I think, “This year will be different.” But what do I really mean by that? This year I won’t watch for the quiet songbirds who show up again during their southern return just because their singing is over? This year I won’t remember all the fun I had, the time spent with friends, and the things I learned, to avoid feeling sad they are over?

As islanders start to reconnect with each other, it is not uncommon to ask, “How was your summer?” In an island community of 70 people it seems odd to think we wouldn’t already know the answer. But, in the summer months, we see each other briefly in the post office, or passing on the street, or at a local event, as though looking through a hazy curtain drawn across our connections by the quintupled summer population.

We have all been out and about and headed in a hundred different directions, all at the same time, figuring we’ll catch up in September.

So, how was your summer? Mine was fabulous, fantastic, amazing. The weather was perfect, the mosquitoes less pestering, and I had opportunities to fill a creative void that had troubled me since spring.

In August, my husband Bruce treated me to an all day bread-making workshop given by our sister-in-law, Allison Reid, from Scratch Bakery in South Portland. She came to the island to teach me and four family members the finer points of making bagels, multigrain sourdough bread and pita bread. To top it off, we baked everything in a wood-fired outdoor oven, built this summer by my brother-in-law Hugh Smallwood.

It was every bit as fun as it sounds, and my bread baking has improved because of it. I also was accepted in a class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle, where I spent the last week in August learning many new metal-clay techniques that I’ll be applying to my work in the studio this fall. A week later I took a one-day book arts class taught by Margot Klass at the Chapter Two Gallery in Corea. Now that fall is upon us, my artistic side is ready to put this new information to use.

I also fed my emotional/physical side with a twice-weekly yoga class taught by Emily Wright at the Islesford Neighborhood House. Class started in June at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and a 9 a.m. on Fridays. At first, only a few of us were willing to get going so early, but by July 25, over 30 people showed up to practice.

As we realized the space upstairs was too small, everyone carried mats and blocks to the large main hall of the Neighborhood House. Two friends said, “You should write about this in your next column!” Why not? Who knows what little aspect of island life will become fodder for a column? If I hadn’t bought my golf cart, my last column might have been all about yoga class. I could have mentioned that during “shavasana” (the last pose of the class), instead of “letting it all drop away” I noticed that the hunger rumblings of the person’s stomach on the mat next to mine sounded exactly like pigeons. Or, I could have mentioned that the hip opening poses, while helping with flexibility, also help the body to release withheld emotions and I quietly cried my way through some of those sessions.

More than anything else, Emily’s yoga class helped me find my balance during the uncontrollable free fall that is summer on Little Cranberry Island. I finally learned that yoga wasn’t about being able to do all of the poses; it was about trying, and paying attention to how my body and mind responded. It was about accepting any physical limitations and modifying my position. It was about being present in the moment, a practice that makes almost any aspect of life just a little more manageable.

At the end of every class, while our eyes were still closed, Emily would say in a quiet voice, “Take a moment to honor yourself for finding your way to your mat this morning, whatever your experience.” It was my very favorite part.

It has been a month since the last yoga class on the island because Emily has gone back to school to get her nursing degree. I have yet to look online to relearn “surya namaskar,” the “sun salutation” poses that I know will help me reconnect with some semblance of a home yoga practice. But, in remembering the highlights of summer, and in feeling the sadness of that season’s end, I can take a moment now to honor myself for finding my way through to autumn, whatever my experience.

It’s one of my favorite times of year and I am now ready for it. Namaste September, namaste. 

Barbara Fernald lives, writes and makes jewelry on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island).