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  • Carly’s favorite book for a time when she was small was Go Dog, Go. The dogs go around a tree and they say, “Go around, again.”

    Today is my last day on the island. Tomorrow when I walk past the lilac I won’t look back. I can’t. I’ll walk on straight down the hill to The Pool get aboard the boat at the float to go to the harbor. To return to my other life. When we pass the meadow above Phil’s Ledge, I’ll look back then. The spruce raise up a dark curtain then and I’ll see the shape of the island but not the yellow house at the top of the hill. I won’t be looking back at the home I am leaving.

    A day or two ago, I went to check on my parents’ house. Climbed the steep narrow stairs to my old room in the attic. Looked out at the field behind the house. Jaime’s been up to mow. Either he or Roxanne whip up once a week and ride around keeping the tough grass golf course short except around the old stone piles and hummocks. The grass is full and wild there. My mother’s garden is patch of tallest grass. The trees she planted, patiently casting pools of shade on this hot day. The rhubarb gone to towering seed. The house is silent.

    On the way down I stopped in the tiny alcove by the stairs where my father has a drift of things. The nested cook-set from the camping we did back when I was 8. Kites made from nautical charts. A faded, fly specked design for an island flag tacked to the slope of the cracked plaster ceiling. A worn chair and a tiny desk set against the wall. A pile of folders.

    I opened one. An end of the summer list from 1980. Spray the trees in the orchard. Paint the window trim. Roof the shed. Till the garden space for potatoes and raspberries. The list fills a page of his yellow legal pad. The writing is angular, quick, sure, decisive.

    Yesterday Carly and I finished the new garden beds, piled the sod into great bunkers to fill with seaweed and hay and forest duff to plant potatoes and squash next season. We fenced the older garden and set out the fence-posts around the orchard site where she’ll put in the first trees next spring. I’ve been four years digging the holes and preparing the ground for the apples and cherry trees and I am good and god damned if the deer are going to get them this time. Today I’ll go through the shed with a cloth and a can of linseed oil and go over all the tools. I love the glow when I am done. I love touching each one and setting it back in its place.

    Go around, again.
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