Impressions of Thompson Island

The City from the Island

It has been five days since I arrived on this island, and already I have begun to discover its secrets. The sun shines here like everywhere else, the leaves fall from trees, the moon waxes and wanes in the night sky. But there is something here I’ve never known, something hidden deeper beneath the apparent exterior.

In the morning, the sun rises over the Atlantic, passing through the thick, rusted beams of the brown bridge to the east, rising over it, illuminating the island. The sea birds sweep in circles around the shore, following fish out with the tide. The water is lower than usual, and we could walk very far out into the sea before the water would rise above our knees. Sea grass sweeps the gritty beach, kelp covers the sand, moon jellies dot the shore, large as dinner plates, thick and bulbous and pulsing like lava, clear as rain drops. Colonies of small periwinkle shells populate the sea rocks. If you pick one up and whistle softly, the creature inside will slowly pull itself out, rising to meet your song.

Turn away from the sea and yet more mysteries lie in waiting. The buildings of brick, their marbled cornerstones emblazoned with the year of their fruition, years I know only from history books, from stories I’ve heard of my grandmother’s childhood. The buildings rest like chess pieces on the grass between the trees, all in all unassuming, yet projecting their own majesty. The copper plates with dedications to headmasters past, the wall with four windows and no doors, the home with three stories and one widowed window jutting out near the chimney, protruding out over the roof, beckoning all, inviting none.

Island Wildlife
Island Wildlife

It becomes windy in the evening as the wind blows in from the west, the smells of the city sweeping in, finally penetrating the passages of this peaceful island palace. The city looms across the water, at bay for the moment, hulking, angular, at odds with everything around it. The waves lap onto this shore and broken things wash up on the beach, tokens of a world in sight but magically out of mind. Even the airplanes that pass overhead here become friends, flying memories of an empire that once lived – lives – and will eventually pass on like the rest.

The sun sets, but the magic does not end at midnight. If you know the ways of the water, the ways of this island, you know there is a bridge that appears twice a day for only an hour, a bridge of land revealed by the sea, a bridge for the brave who wish to venture from island life for only a heart second. Cross the bridge with the right group of people and under the stars, in the glow of the city – the city now looking like crystal reflected on glass, lights on lights and lit by the stars – and you transcend time, cross boundaries physical and otherwise, form circles, pass pulses, let the universe flow into your mouth, into your heart, cross the water, cross paths, understand something deeper, come across a secret truth, truth hidden in any land, any ocean, but buried deep within this island and carried by every soul who steps upon it, carried away to the city, away to the mountains, away to the sea, the river, the north, the south, the east, the rest. This island’s secret is the heart beat of the world.

And we keep it. I keep it. I have only arrived, but I am now tied to this place. Come here and you feel it. Leave here and you believe it. Live here, love, learn the world.

I tell you this place is like no where else. I tell you I’ve just arrived, and already the adventure is deep, already the tide is high, I will tell you the story. I will show you the way it unfolds.

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