Summer’s begun. A very different summer to be sure. Our old familiar tree-lines that so unfailingly guided us from shore to shore are frayed and tattered. Our grassy paths from the dock to the house are rutted and clay-packed. And Buck was not at the top of the hill when we went for the first mail, nor could he help us, as he always did, with the clearing of the paths. But Brenda’s note in February began simply, “Well, We’re all right…”, and so it is with all of the Grindstone Islanders, here, where our shade is thin, where the roads are lined with piles of brush, where the sun has been unremittingly hot for most of a week, “We’re all right.
The Markses arrived late this year, not finally arriving on the island until 9:00 PM on Thursday evening. I was busy in Princeton fighting my computer, which felt overstuffed with the 209 wonderful photographs Audrey has put together with many, many stories in her book, Going Home, that is coming to the North Country book stores in the not too distant future. Look for it. You’ll find it holds the singular, warm, joyous, courageous heart of Grindstone. It’s the book Audrey Lashomb has been writing in her imagination since she was a little girl in the red schoolhouse at the middle of the island. It’s a book The Grindstone Press is pleased to publish! It’s a book The Minute Press in Princeton is pleased to print. (Can you believe that there in Princeton there is such a hive of Grindstone Island relatives?! I left Mary Curtis busy getting the pictures and the text back together. Since her mother is a Turcott I trusted it to her with confidence. And I think I’m right that her grandmother was a Garnsey. More than that, John and Joan Emmerick, Mary’s in-laws, and the owners of the Minute Press, visit the Rossmasslers almost every summer. John E. told me that two people didn’t go to church one Sunday last August: Buck and John talked together, across the road… out by the Hall, through the whole service. )
Thanks to the ardent labor of Chris Williams and Richard Branch (who did go to church this Sunday) The Grindstone Island Methodist Church opened it doors to an eager congregation on June 21, 1998. Every one of us came with some trepidation because most of us had either peeked in ourselves about three weeks ago, or had heard a description of the state of the sanctuary from someone who had. But to our vast surprise, the pews were back in place, the window with Jesus praying in the garden was there in the front, lit by the sunlight, and the organ was playing just as usual. How glad we were to greet each other out under the poplar tree that, though bruised, still reaches out its shorn branches to make us welcome.
Next, we were delighted to meet our “singing” minister for the summer, Jane Wagner. Her eyes dance and her smile is infectious, and she often sings what she wants us to remember, as she did today: You will always be a child in my eyes. Her message that God is a prodigal father reassured all of us prodigal parents that we’d been right to be so extravagant in giving to our children. In these accusing days, when we’re urged to discipline and punish extravagantly, and on the other hand, never to strike our recalcitrant children, in these days when we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t, to be reminded, on Father’s Day that the father who brought up one wastrel son, and one meanly jealous son, who was extravagant in giving gifts to both, is just like God, was a gift indeed. I’ll let Jane Wagner speak for herself:
21821 Co. Rte. 47
Carthage NY, 13619
January 20, 1998
“The possibility of sharing in ministry on Grindstone Island this summer is very exciting for me. As a child I spent several years on Wellesley Island in the 1960’s –1970’s, as my mother was then pastor of the Fineview-Densmore Parish. The St. Lawrence is like home to me, its beauty and tranquility speak to my heart.
My daughter Joy, age 16, is looking forward to being there with me. She has volunteered for several years at Camp Aldersgate and had intended to apply for a job there this summer. She has decided to give up that possibility so that we can share this experience together. My college age son may be able to spend a little time with me as well. Jim, my husband, works for Champion International in Deferiet, NY, and would probably come over off and on throughout the summer, especially at vacation time.
When I was first approached about the possibility of the appointment, I was given Mary Beer’s phone number. She was very positive about her experience there as the summer pastor. It seems so right to me that my ministry in the United Methodist Church might begin in the Thousand Islands, just as my mother’s did….
God’s blessing to All,
After Church, the whole congregation retired to the carriage house for a much-needed drink of coffee or lemonade on that hot day, and sweets. Then many of us went back to the open board meeting to talk about the summer’s calendar, and about the procedure we would set up to make sure everyone is included in the final plan for the restoration of the sanctuary at the end of the summer. Doc Schwartz, president of the board, led his talkative congregants, so each had her or his say, and, as we said before, summer has begun…begun without vengeance. In Brenda’s words, “We’re all right”.
Here is the accepted schedule for the summer:
Grindstone Island United Methodist Church Calendar of Events, 1998
Sunday, June 21 opening service.
Sunday, June 28, Pot Luck
Saturday, July 11 Church Supper and Auction
Sunday, July 12 Communion
Sunday, July 19 Memorial Service
Sunday, July 26 Old Homes Day
Sunday, August 2 Aunt Jane’s Bay Service
Saturday, August 8 Barnyard Olympics
Sunday, August 9 Pancake Breakfast
Sunday, August 16 Sandwich Swap
Sunday, August 30 Charge Conference & Pot Luck
Sunday September 6 Last service 1998. Squatters’ Picnic at the Marras
A whole family was absent from the morning service: Jacie Marie Donaldson, daughter of Debbie and Steve, grandaughter of Yuvon and Phil Marra graduates on Wednesday, June 24th from Regiopoli- Notre Dame in Kingston, Ontario. Her family invited her friends to a reception in her honor at their new home at 50 Water Street in Gananoque. Jacie has brought us all a great deal of pleasure as she has grown up. Her dancing has enhanced almost every celebration. We can’t hold her here, but we hope she holds on to us, no matter how far she adventures, and comes often to Grindstone!
Marjorie Rusho wasn’t in her pew either. She is ill in the Alexander Bay hospital, and we miss her very much. Who else can tell us the points of history we have questions about. Who else always has a goodie ready and waiting when we, or anybody drops by her kitchen? May bright angels overhead keep watch round your bed, Marjorie….
So it is.