August 4, 2011
The Door From Reality to Etheria
Years ago, a simple footpath encircled the island. I believe this without being certain. Perhaps I am remembering what I merely wished had been true, but I would like to think that I used to circumnavigate this island on foot without difficulty. The trail led clearly as it does now from the little beach on the northeast corner clockwise along the eastern length, meandering through spruce woods close enough to the shore to see the sparkle of the water through the trees, then around the southern tip, slightly inland up the western side, and finally to the sweeping flat rocks on the north. Surely I walked that route with ease.
You see, something quite unusual has happened here. This island is small and uninhabited, a jewel in an archipelago on the coast of Maine. In a gesture to that endangered concept known as the common good, the owners maintain the path to a certain degree, and visitors who come ashore in their own boats treat the island gently—no fires, no trash.
That in itself is not so uncommon in these parts. Many (not all) island owners are generous, and many (not all) people who take to boats love and care for the pristine coast. What is special about this island is that when no one is looking, fairies also come, it seems, and build little houses of bark and sticks on stumps and rocks, sometimes with moss or a sprig of spruce for a roof. These fairy houses come and go, appearing and disappearing throughout the summer. (By the way, children also come and go on their parents’ boats.)
Several years ago, a rather large fairy, evidently, or a whole troop of them (or flock or team or whatever fairy groups are called) made the pathway into a passage. If you land at that northeastern beach, which is just a pocket of sand tucked surprisingly into the rough granite coast, and take the trail southward along the eastern side of the island, you suddenly come to an old wooden door, once painted white on the side you first see. It is standing across the path, held erect by driftwood boards fashioned into a sturdy door frame and nailed to two trees that straddle the trail. There is no wall, of course, just the door. You could walk around it if you wished by just stepping off the path.
But you wouldn’t want to do that. You wouldn’t want to avoid the door, because the fairies—presumably the fairies--have painted on it in big letters, “Etheria.” Grab the knob, swing the door open, step through, and you plunge into dark thick woods as comforting and alluring as your imagination can imagine. Etheria.
Look back, and you see the other side the door, with the word “Reality” in dark letters against a weathered green, and an arrow pointing back the way you came.