El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

lunes, 7 de enero de 2013

La vida de Art and Nan Kellam en su isla de Maine



If you've ever been in love, you've probably turned to your sweetheart and said something like, "Darling, you're my everything." Perhaps you've daydreamed with your significant other about "getting away from it all"—buying a boat, moving to Sweden, moving to Galesnjaksomewhere you could live in harmony, just you two and the big blue sky. But Eve can't unbite the apple: it's civilization and other people and "I've got to work late again tonight, honey," and that's life forevermore. And would you really move to nowhere with your someone if you could?

Here's a tale of two people who did: Art and Nan Kellam, who married in 1935 and moved to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine in 1949, where they remained together until 1985. The story has been told before: in a wonderful 2003 Times article and in a series of photographs of the Kellam's homestead, taken by David Graham. But neither of these was complete. In "We Were an Island," Peter P. Blanchard III uses Nan's journals, the manuscript of the unfinished book she and Art were writing about their adventure, and their letters and family photos to weave a narrative that is at times touching, at times daunting, at time strangely relatable. Art and Nan led a relatively austere existence, chopping wood, cutting paths through the forest, growing vegetables, rowing to the mainland if they needed special supplies—but what comes through in "We Were an Island" is how inconsequential all this is. The substance of the story is their relationship, which is instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever been in one. Art and Nan had nicknames for each other and made-up words only the two of them knew; they left notes on the door when they stepped out so that the other wouldn't worry; they bickered; Art read aloud to Nan each night. The Times article recalls how, late in life, when Nan was living in a nursing home on the mainland (Art died in 1985; Nan died in 2001), a friend asked her about the books:

"What did he read to you,'' Mrs. Kellam was asked by Ms. Fox, who visited her in 1997. 
''It was always the right thing,'' she answered.

It's the answer of someone for whom another person was everything, but I think she'd have given it if they'd lived in Manhattan in an apartment with three screaming children. I love the title of this book for that reason: it points up where, precisely, the solitude and intimacy of a loving relationship lies.

Art and Nan rowing. Photograph by Nancy Rigdon.

The potbellied stove. Photograph by David Graham

(...) My favorite love story played out on a beautiful Maine island called Placentia. Arthur and Nan Kellam, an aviation engineer (who worked in Wisconsin http://www.allbusiness.com/environment-natural-resources/ecology/14528751-1.html) and his wife, moved from California in 1949 and settled on the 500 acre island. They built a house in a little clearing and left love notes for one another every time they separated for the day—to explore different parts of their beloved island. Placentia Island has a number of ephemeral streams, seeps and forested wetlands, mainly Spruce fir and sphagnum moss, with wild chanterelle mushrooms and cherry trees.

Art built a great bandstand overlooking the sea, for his wife, a romantic spot. He also had another little building he called his “retreat,” which had ingenious Murphy-style furniture, when folded out one way, became a table; when adjusted, became a bookshelf or storage. The Kellams had two wells, one near the house and one near the bandstand. They didn’t have running water, electricity or any convenience that the mainlanders enjoyed. They grew vegetables in their garden. They rowed their dory to the nearby Great Gott Island for supplies like kerosene. Sometimes friends, including the Rockefellers, brought fresh milk and oranges, but the Kellams sustained their private life together on very little from the outside world. Fog encircled the island on most days, preventing casual visits from neighboring islanders. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/13/garden/living-to-the-power-of-two.html?pagewanted=all

This past spring author Peter Blanchard III published a book about the Kellams entitled, We Were an Island partly based on Nan’s writings and unfinished book that she started with her husband. She described in her journal that they had searched for a place, an island that would fulfill their “dream of peace.”

I visited the house in 1999, just a few years before Nan passed away. Inside the house, it is easy to picture how everything had its place; they each had their spot for sitting, a single desk, stacks of TIME magazine (so they kept up on current events!) It inspired the poem, “If I Were an Island,” posted here: http://aswm.org/wordpress/110/320/446/ The Nature Conservancy manages the uninhabited Placentia Island. The only way to visit the island is to sign up to volunteer to work in one of TNC’s nature preserves—with Placentia Island, a nesting site for bald eagles, being on the list for September 2010: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/maine/volunteer/art24384.html


Kellam house

Everything in the Kellam’s house is completely necessary, and beautifully worn:


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