As summer turns to fall, the tide of the island ebbs into a slower pace with each departing visitor. Shops are closing down for the off-season, last minute drivers can catch the ferry, and seasonal homes are being packed away and stored until the next summer solstice. The breeze begins, ever so slightly, cutting you with its hint of winter bitterness and the fear of the first frost looms in the air. Like it or not, chillier months are steadily approaching.

“Wasn’t it just June?” I overhear someone say as I pass through the aisles of the Island Market. “It’ll be snowing before we know it. Better break out the generator! You remember last year”¦”

The conversation goes on and on about the wicked cold winter of a year past and stories of survival. “I’ve never seen ice like that!” By the end, an outsider could only assume they were describing a week stranded on Mt. Everest’s highest peak. Nope, just a week on a powerlessly frozen Islesboro.

For many, the winter months are the black sheep of the year. But for me, I waited all summer for this time to arrive! Of course, I loved summer on an island—only a fool wouldn’t. The scenery is gorgeous and there’s always something to do. However, as an Island Fellow, I came in September and knew nothing of an island summer. I started off on a different foot with Islesboro, albeit a colder one than most.

Colder times bring the island back to what it always will be—a community. Visitors come and go with each ferry trip, but the true heart of the community never fades. In the hectic flux of summer this tends to be forgotten, but as the leaves turn and woodstoves come back to life it all gradually drifts back.

When I take the time to think of this community, I think of everyone gathered in a packed Kinnicutt Center cheering on the Islesboro Eagles basketball teams; the countless potluck invitations; the sound of someone plowing my driveway as I surrender my shovel; and the constant grapevine chatter of how many CMP trucks someone saw in the Lincolnville ferry line.

All these things, as odd as they may sound to some, unite this community in the most simple of ways. The coming together of people and the lending of hands will always be the mortar that holds any society together. It’s what makes them strong and unfailing. One can only hope we all take a moment to recognize and cherish it instead of giving it a passing glance.

I know that’s what I have been doing as I begin my second year as an Island Fellow. Along the way, I have slowly begun to see noticeable impacts of my work. Whether it’s in a meeting or with a family I’ve provided resources to, I know that my time here has meant something.

Through the next ten months I will finish sustaining and bettering the bridge of resources (i.e.: educational, behavioral, financial, etc.) between the mainland and the island families. Though not an easy task, I am sure my work will leave others with the tools to continue aiding those in the community who need it most.

My fellowship has given me many things: a chance to grow professionally through my work, a clearer outlook on what I would like my future to hold, and surprisingly, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet President George H.W. Bush at his home in Kennebunkport. 

Above all else (yes, even meeting a president), it’s given me a community I can return to after I leave my fellowship.  A community I am sure will never fade, even with the turn of the seasons.

Kendra Jo Marsh is an Island Fellow on Islesboro through AmeriCorps and the Island Institute.