Grindstone Island News - July 6, 1994
Across the middle channel the sail boats in the bay on Leek Island look like a birch forest A skitter of "mosquito" craft just raced by with a Starcraft bouncing close behind in full chase, and cruisers plow great wakes at independent angles this third of July on a sunny, noisy river.
Up the road toward the church, a group of Grindstone Island men lounge on running boards or tail gates, or on the roomy seats of four-wheelers, or on lawn chairs gathered to the edge of the gravel road in front of the Bazinets' house, talking about Bubby's brush-hog, about coons and foxes, or about uncle Pat Marshall's Independence -and kindness - and the wonderful boats he used to paint. Tom Marshall remembered the green one that was supposed to be for him, that was, however, bartered before Tom got it, for a glass of beer.
In the house, Carolyn shows the welcome sign Susie Marshall has just given her - an handsome loon carved in relief against a teal ground. It's a lovely, leisurely day, and friends gather in clumps on all the roads, in all the bays to enjoy each other on this Sunday, the real beginning of summer.
On Saturday night, Liquid Courage played to a good crowd at the dance in the Dodge Memorial Hall. August and Nonna Frazier brought their seven-week-old granddaughter (Robin's and Shane's child) for everyone to meet, and Bob Carnegie brought his daughter and son-in-law. The young teenagers, Shawn, Amanda, and Rachel, all danced - and agreed with their uncles and fathers, still talking out on the road, that it was a good evening. Buck was there, overseeing.
Brenda Slate, earlier, went with Nonna Frazier and August, Yuvonne and Phil Marra, Doreen and Donnie Meeks, and Ed Barlow to the high school reunion in Clayton for all those who graduated before 1972 when the new high school was built They saw a lot of people they hadn't seen for a long time, Jessie Brown, for one.
Last week's dance was the traditional graduation party on Grindstone, and we should have congratulated Jim Cupemall last week, so we do it now! He was the only Grindstone Islander to graduate this year. Since the island school closed, Grindstone families have become more integrally a part of Clayton. Most families now live on the mainland during the school year. But their ties to the island don't fray them apart from those who keep the homesteads warm on the island.
Buck and Brenda Slate were lucky. Their boys could go to school here until seventh grade. But Tom has now moved to Clayton Center with his family, joining a little knot of connected kin who live there. On Thursday night, however, Buck and Brenda celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary, all their years together spent on Grindstone Island. Carolyn and Bubby Bazinet had dinner for them, and ice cream and cake - and good talk.
It was at that party that "Sandy" Robinson, Carolyn's sister, and I remembered that we had met each other first at the Winged Bull Studio. I think it was that same day, about two years ago, that Karen told me she had been asked by the president of the board of Hawn Library to go on to get her master's degree in library science, and I overheard her tell my husband at a Saturday reception in the Winged Bull Studio that she did get her degree from Syracuse University this spring - even though this winter was the winter of all winters here in the North Country!
I was too busy this spring to read the Thousand Islands Sun as regularly as I usually do, but all of us on Grindstone, thinking of all the island youngsters we are so fond of, appreciate Karen's taking the needs of Clayton's small library seriously enough to prepare herself well for helping the library meet the needs of our children and young people.
It is exciting to watch the boat museum expand, to watch the craft school add more room for its textile museum and its classes in art and fine Grafting, and to watch the summer theater in the old opera house become a center of entertainment along the river. Hawn Library will be lucky to have Karen's knowledge to help meet the needs that so much activity will waken it to.
The Glenn Graver exhibit, now hanging at the Winged Bull, is an example of the experimentation that is going on in the art world along the river. And Greg Lago has also been working this winter. He has some water colors in the studio that picture manliness along the river. Water color often seems a bit flimsy to me, or feminine. But in this era of feminism, Greg, with plain water color reminds us of the warm strength of manliness, manliness in a sunset, as well as the outdoor manliness of bullhead fishing.
Greg is a computer-graphics expert, but he never lets the mechanism of the computer keep him away from the craftsmanship. He did a fine new woodcut this winter, in addition to his strong water color work. And he continues sculpting in wood. Whatever he does is authentic and appreciative of the "whole truth" of the life around him, the "whole truth" Mary Beers talked about last Sunday.
Which brings us to the Grindstone Island Church: Mary Beers' family arrived on Thursday -Phil, her husband, and Sara, Jessie, and their dog, Chip. For the first time in many years, the parsonage has a full family to spring it alive -- and us! And alive the church was this Sunday. The singing must have been heard all the way down to Potter's Beach! Mary showed the children a pottery cross which she had brought from Mexico. It reminds her, she told them, that in Mexico she had learned that God shows us things, sometimes, that upset us, that make us ask questions about what we thought we knew for sure.
Then she told the adults that often "God bothers us." The Old Testament story from the Bible was about David's being anointed king of Judah, but the New Testament lesson from the lectionary was the story of Jesus preaching in his hometown. His relatives and friends thought he read beautifully, until he reminded them that Elijah had been sent, not to heal the many widows in Israel, but was sent by God, off to a city of Sidon to heal a widow there. And, although there were many lepers in Israel, Elijah had been sent, again, by God, to cleanse Naaman the Syrian. Now, said Mary, what this lesson of Jesus caused in Nazareth was no minor upset! The townspeople drove him to a cliff to throw him off! Though we long for the good news and usually come to church in response to it, we have to hear the whole truth, the paradox, that God is at the same time, both a loving and an offensive God, a God who turns us to the stranger in our midst, who bothers us with the needs of those we'd like not to know.
And at the pot-luck lunch after the service where the loaves and fishes, sure enough, did go around, Robin Davison said she is leaving their island paradise Tuesday, to go to summer school where she will study the technology of genetic engineering because, "as one of only a very few science teachers in our agricultural area in Wisconsin, I'm going to influence a whole generation." And the children showed the "worry" dolls the girls had made and the "wanted" posters the boys created. Debby Donaldson can always be counted on!
Notes: Turkey dinner Saturday evening, July 9, at 5 p.m. Please, bring your usual pies or desserts!
Erma Slate will teach Sunday school July 10.
So it is.