The vacant house on Harbor Island is a resolute witness to the winter’s work in Naskeag Harbor. Here, we see it watching an 18-mile-per-hour wind gust perform a contradictory feat – while whipping part of the Harbor into white caps, it propels a flow of ice slush that calms its part of the turmoil as it slides through.
The house is one of many summer residences built on privately-owned Maine islands. The Gulf of Maine reportedly contains 4,600 islands, which is more than all the islands of the other east coast states combined. There are at least 15 unbridged Maine islands with year-round human populations; on some islands, sheep are the only full-time residents, and – fortunately – Maine islands increasingly are being put in trust as nature preserves.
All these islands were public, open-access lands before Maine was lopped off Massachusetts as the 23rd state by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. As part of Maine’s scramble to become a self-sufficient state, it auctioned many of its islands to interested persons.
Here’s another look at the Harbor Island house, this time in summer: