It wasn’t that Jeanne Hein hadn’t told her story of last year’s tightening of Canadian Customs, it wasn’t that Weezie Ford hadn’t told her story of last year’s tightening of
Canadian Customs, it wasn’t that we thought the rules had already been relaxed since last fall. It was, I think, that the visit with John’s former student from his very young teaching days, with his wife and two children, had been so pleasant, had been so much from another era, another slower, “gentlemanly-ladylike” era, never look-as-if-you’re-trying-too-hard era that we forgot the time we live in.  In any case, though I suggested to John that we should call and report, he answered casually, “Oh, not just to go to the parking lot.” And we did say a warm and unhurried “good-bye” when we had loaded their entire luggage into their car, and sent them on their way.  We had even pulled away from the dock a few feet when the officer came running, beckoning us back in certainly certain tones.


It was a pleasant Tuesday morning when I waited on the dock for John to come back to Grindstone for his wallet…to pay the fine. So now, Hear This:


DO NOT STEP ONTO CANADIAN SOIL WITHOUT IMMEDIATELY CALLING TO REPORT TO CUSTOMS. THE FINE IS 100 CANADIAN DOLLARS. EXPENSIVE EVEN WITH THE BEST OF EXCHANGE RATES! In fact, bringing guests who have checked into Canada back to U.S. Grindstone Island without checking out and checking them back in when they return to Canada makes them liable for a similar fine. So we were lucky that our friends were well on their way. Nor can you buy gas at a Canadian dock without checking in.


Naturally we’ve done a good bit of thinking about legalism and law and sovereignty this week.  Then this morning, the Bible story was about Jesus healing an ailing woman who was out and about on a street of northern Palestine, out and about, against strict Jewish law. And it made me think about how people on this island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River manage to live together without any policemen, almost living by consensus rather than law. It’s possible because the population is small and a majority of us have been on the island with each other long enough to know the consensus ( which is almost always unstated) and abide by it because it seems a part of our being. It’s not a perfect community, but it is a workable community.


One of its marks is simplicity.  Last week both the boat museum and the craft school celebrated the life of Betty Haxall. At a memorial service for her on August 4th at the Antique Boat Museum, the trait most people spoke of was her forthright simplicity and authenticity. Her children read a few of the many poems she wrote and left to give them pleasure in the pleasure she had in this island:


                        MORNING DEW


                        Get up early with the dawn

                        To find diamonds on the lawn:


                        Dew drops hung on spider webs

Shining beads on fragile threads

Spread out on the moss and grass—

                        Sparkling bits like shattered glass.


                        You must look quickly before the sun

                        Finds them first; then they are gone.


At the Thousand Islands Craft School, “Along the River’s Edge” is an exhibit of artwork in a variety of mediums, A Tribute to Elizabeth Dodge Haxall.  Here, six of Betty’s paintings are hung. They preserve her joy in the work done in her boathouse, and in the wooded paths that wander Club Island.


We missed Betty in the Committee Boat at the tenth annual Harold Herrick St. Lawrence Skiff Race.  She used to do the job Ted Overton did so graciously when Betty gave it up.  This year we missed Ted’s leadership, and Barbara and Bill Rueckert who were this year’s official “Race Committee,” send him the hearty appreciation of all of us enthusiasts for his many years of service to the skiff races.


The course for 1998 was around Wild Goose Island.  Timmy Purcell sailing with daughter Julia won the cup, but the other contestants made the three races fine competition. Quentin Rueckert, Bill’s and Barbara’a grandson, sailed with his cousin in one race and with his wife in another.  Peter Moore sailed with Eliza Moore in one race and with his wife, Louisa, in another.  Clee Dodge sailed with Lolita Pfeiffer. Morgan Rueckert sailed with Bill’s and Barbara’s granddaughter, Abbie Knight. And , last but not least, Camilla (Cookie) Kenner sailed with Alice Berkeley and finished second in the third race, following their own rather complex route  around the island! These little  crafts, wobble along like square-winged butterflies, and just as prettily.  They have no keels, so they are steered by the crew’s shifting their weight  and thus their positions in the boat as they need to. Harold Herrick loved to sail so much that the annual event is held in his honor.  Mary Herrick couldn’t attend this year because she is moving to Cape Cod where her son Harold Herrick III lives. We hate to have her leave the river, but surely she will be back, perhaps for next year’s race.


After the race everyone enjoyed chocolate chip cookies and iced tea at Wild Goose Island, and Bill Rueckert  presented Timmy Purcell with the fine silver Harold Herrick St. Lawrence skiff race cup.


Next Sunday is the appointed Sunday for music in 1998, but the festival began early.  Celina Moore sang  the prelude and Eliza, her daughter, sang the offertory in the church service on Sunday morning.  On Tuesday evening Celina will sing a concert at the “Squash Court”.  We feel fortunate to have her back among us to make even the plastic ceiling of the church waver and ring with her lovely soprano voice. And having Eliza join her  was a wonderful desert. Eliza also played her violin in company with her mother and her organ accompanist, Ms. Morse, for the prelude. Such a day! 


Such a day.  Our daughter Fleur Rueckert, and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Julia came to church with us in the morning, having bicycled from Midriver, and Cleve and Elizabeth came for a visit by little whaler in the afternoon. August is a great time for grandparents. There were lots of children in church.  Katie Carlisle and Meggin Boss were joined this Sunday, by Robert Smith and Kayla Williams in singing the children’s anthem.  Elaine Brooks led quite a long string of grand and happy children out to the carriage house for Sunday school after their anthem.


This August 16th, Carol Williams, Mary Lou Rusho reported, was the first boat person from Clayton to come on the boat to Grindstone to church.


Minister Jane announced a fun day at the parsonage a week from Thursday, August 27th. For anyone who will come help paint the woodwork and doors in the house, she will make all the fried bread dough they can eat!


NEXT SUNDAY, AUGUST 23rd THE WHOLE CHURCH BOARD WILL MEET AT 9:00 AM TO HEAR THE REPORT OF THE RENOVATION COMMITTEE.  The board will then report at the annual meeting to the whole congregation their recommendations for the renewal of the church building. We all await the reports with baited breath and much anticipation. We’ll be glad to have the sanctuary back in shape again.  This year has been a worthwhile time for the whole congregation to explore the new possibilities for the old structure. Now we’re ready to get to the next step.


After church on the 23rd we’ll all go down the road to the schoolhouse for a potluck lunch, and a river tale told by Reggie Carpenter, the first resident intern at the new museum.  Frannie wants to be sure old time islanders are part of this project.  It is not to be a tourist attraction.  It is to be a study museum, and can, if people want it, be a location for tutoring in summer,  or  perhaps, as Erma suggested, not a full time, but a part time day care-study center with programs for kids whose parents work. Wouldn’t Bobbie Bazinet enjoy a chance to do a small ecological study, maybe some studies of the habits of the creatures of the island woods? And wouldn’t sister Mary like to hear some island tales told by Reggie? We can make the old school serve us just as we want it too if we join in making the plans.


We eat often (!) on Grindstone, and this week we gathered in the carriage house to swap sandwiches and little extras like noodles and potato salad and dessert….and, of course, conversation. At our table, Clara Carnegie and Brenda Slate exchanged news of sons Jeremy, Tom and Jimmy, and daughters too!  And stories of boat engines that made me anxious to find out what story we’ll be telling about our “Toad’s” motor. It “froze up” just off the Hayes dock on Friday, and some guardian angel young people whose name I forgot to ask, stopped and towed us in to Darrel’s dock.  The kindness and skill of boaters on the river is always wonderful to me.  Thank you! rescuer, should you read this. They stopped right away when I waved… even on the day of the racing boat regatta!


The Saturday night dance was as friendly and relaxed as it always is.  People talking inside, young people talking outside, and everyone having a good time. The Kopy Kats played last week and Carolyn didn’t have her calendar to tell me which band will be there on the 23nd. But you can trust whichever one it is will give us a good time. Sis Matthews’ chair waited for her. We hope it doesn’t have to wait too much longer.  ( Sis, we tried to come see you on Friday.  We started out at 11oclock.  The boat battery was dead…so we borrowed Beverly Pope’s charger and finally got the boat away from the dock about two oclock.  We went to Remar, bought a new battery, and started off for Alex Bay Hospital.  But just off the Hayes dock, the motor froze.  So Toad lay there until Saturday evening when Duane Chalk towed it down to his dock.  We got a water taxi home.  And we didn’t get to see you.  But we’ll get there this week!  )


Audrey should have in hand the final proof of her book this very week! 


 So it is

Aminta Marks