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Tales from the old-timer

Island Dreams

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

daughter of the Old-Timer



**********

I read with interest news of a developer’s plan to build an outpost on Green Island, located in Green Bay between the Door peninsula and Marinette/Menominee.

I have always been fascinated by islands, and our favorite vacation escape is a tiny island not much bigger than Chamber’s Island, which is also located in Green Bay; but this favored outpost of mine is located in the Abacos, part of the Bahamas chain of 700+ islands.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have walked across both Chamber’s and Green islands after arriving by boats years ago. Green Island is an outcropping, without natural beaches of any size, and covered with hundreds of nesting birds and Poison Ivy. At present it has no sheltered natural harbor. All the same, I can picture it as a delightful three-season escape from the mainland, albeit with a lot of work. Chamber’s is bigger, with a natural lake on it and in the middle of that small lake, a tiny island of it’s own. Chambers is ringed with primitive roads and rustic cabins, and has a short landing strip suitable for small planes with pilots who have dirt-strip landing skills. Chambers has a lovely natural beach but no true sheltered harbor, so those anchored off in boats must carefully watch the weather. Everything you need you must bring with you, and generators power the lights and water pumps in the simple cabins. Some years things can be brought in the winter across the ice, if the snow isn’t too deep.

The draw of islands is the relief from traffic; the “too much to do, too little time” syndrome which makes some of us long for a beach chair and silence. It’s a “forced” retreat to simple times and pleasures. (No shopping malls, no movie theatres, no fast food.) The “art” of that ambiance is offering enough comfort for those who can’t, or won’t “rough it,” without totally commercializing the destination to the point that it is no longer recognizable as the island escape of dreams. Our favorite little island advertises itself as “not for sissies,” meaning that if you can’t tolerate limited water supplies; marginally stocked grocery shelves and self-entertainment options, you should go to a tourist island instead.

The drawbacks of small islands, though, are obvious: Not much to do for those not fond of bird-watching, fishing, and reading; the expense (since EVERYTHING must be shipped in via boat or plane everything costs at least 20% and on some islands as much as 50% more.) The inconvenience - want Advil? Trip to the mainland. Hungry for apples? Trip to the mainland. Need sunblock or a birthday cake? Trip to the mainland - IF the weather cooperates. If you are the kind of person who goes stir crazy being snowed in for 24 hours, small island living would not be for you. And if crossing the bay in a tossing boat or small ferry on a rough day gives you pause, look for a cottage along the mainland shore.

I wish the developers the best of luck. My bet is that Green Island will look much the same in five years as it does now. But I have dreams of owning one of those simple cabins on Chamber’s Island, all the same. And I am sure there are others like me.


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