Sunday Morning~ East Boothbay
September 10, 2017
Ok, this setting is hard to beat. I am sitting on the bank of the Damarascotta river in a sweet boathouse remade into a private space for Nell alone. I’m guessing they once stored boats in here, but now it is an open space with a desk, drafting table, loom, wood stove, double bed and dresser. There are big single paned windows on all sides. I see some life jackets hanging from a nail on the wooden walls, so it’s still used for some storage of boating activity, but mostly, it’s a woman’s dream space. It helps that the September sun is coming through the windows and makes this spot a warm place to write. I’m not sure I ever want to leave it. Nell is teaching a suturing workshop and offered it to me when I said I need a place to sit and write. Doesn’t get much better than this.
My timing has been laced with luck. This midwifery retreat weekend was situated directly on my path from Washington to Bar Harbor. I spent a few days this week in D.C. participating in the orientation for the new volunteers about to head off to five different countries. Their departure had been delayed, waiting for the funding to come through congress and a couple of months behind the schedule we had last year, they are eager to go. It was exciting to be part of it. I remember last year drinking up every word the returned volunteers shared in that anxious what-do-I-do? state of the newly initiated. It was fun to be the old pro and reassure the newcomers that, as hard as it can be sometime, we are living proof that it’s doable and I’m even going back for a second year! I felt so grateful and proud to be part of this organization. The orientation process which is in-depth, sensitive, and realistic, includes lectures on tropical medicine and education by experts in their fields. That part alone is worth it. But to be in the midst of like-minded people with similar goals and the desire to give back, is a very good feeling. And it’s fun!
On Friday I presented, to a group at the Peace Corps headquarters, a comparison of the experiences of being a traditional Peace Corps volunteer, a team member of Doctor’s Without Borders, a woman’s advocate here in rural Maine, and the current role of GHSP volunteer. It was a lot to put into one hour, but it was heady to be the speaker for this audience. I believe in this organization so completely, believe it is the only foreign policy that actually works, and believe the next generation of health care providers is the only hope for improving women’s lives. I want to tell this story wherever I can.
Directly after my talk, I left to catch the metro to the airport and fly back to Portland Maine. My flight to D.C. on Tuesday had been cancelled which required taking a bus to Boston and a flight from there the next day. It took me a mere 24 hours to get there (I could have gotten to Malawi in that time) but the flight back was smooth and simple. From Portland I picked up my car and drove to Boothbay where the fall Maine midwifery retreat was being held at the summer place of one of the formidable women in our organization. Nell impresses all of us with her ability to understand legislation and regulation and decipher what it means for our practice. We have great discussions about how we’ll go about either enacting change or surviving in the current climate. For those of us who have been practicing midwifery for several decades, the constant fight to be allowed do what we are trained and legally allowed to do, gets exhausting. I, myself, run to the developing world to get perspective. But I love being in the midst of these women who don’t give up, who have developed creative and inspiring methods of enduring, and are fun and funny to boot. I soak all this in while being nurtured and fed from their own gardens as we sit on a deck overlooking the water, sleep under cozy comforters, then sip tea and gossip as the sun comes up. I’ll say it again, I love my life.
We, of course, spent time talking about the hurricane as we drank wine and ate lobster in the candlelight last night. We all knew someone in it’s wake. I can’t help thinking about the contrast between what seems to be an impending apocalypse and how happy I am about life. It doesn’t seem right. I admit to being a little blasé about the weather events. I get that there is loss of property and sometimes life, but it always gives me pause when I think of why this should be surprising? We humans try to bend the earth to our advantage and are shocked when it doesn’t cooperate. So if housing is situated on a flood plain, it floods. This is shocking? It seems callous and uncaring of me and I find that a little disturbing. It’s a little like, “Oh, you burned your hand? I told you not to touch the hot stove.” People who voted in a manner that would eliminate services for those who did not build a house in a flood plain because they will never have a house, are now needing assistance? Hmm. I told you not to touch the stove.
Now I will try to post this on the newly renovated website (she even has wifi here!) then take my privileged legs on a walk in this beautiful setting before heading back to Bar Harbor. The next week is relatively unscheduled as my plan to canoe the Allagash River during this time is going to be postponed. I’m chicken to do it alone and couldn’t get anyone to go with me! This is a new feeling…no work and a free week. Hmm. It’ll be interesting to see how that gets filled.
Love to all,