If it’s true that islands have souls

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion of islands being warm romantic lazy places composed mostly of tanned vacationers slathered slick with coconut oil sprawled out on tropical-colored beach chairs and blankets while barely still able to hold sweet umbrella drinks.

To me, there are other islands just as captivating: cold and perhaps even barren ones where generations have risen in the dark early hours over cups of thick black coffee before heading out to work.

And by that I mean hard work: mending nets, crabbing, raking up oysters or seeding new beds, battling rust and barnacles with a wire brush, reaching elbow deep into a dirty and defiant diesel engine, gutting fish and tossing bits of it to screeching sea birds as the sun is just now coming up.

If it’s true that islands have souls, surely it is places like this where the older souls are to be found.

Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I too easily take the path of least resistance—toward Hawaiian shirts and sandals versus flannel and heavy boots.

It’s a weakness I’ve battled most of my life.

But then something comes along to remind me of the San Juans or Newfoundland or other places where island life remains isolated and hard and so deeply quiet that even the waves are mute.

When I find such a spot, even if it is only in a picture or a story or a song, it takes me further into the depths of my bones than I am used to going these last many years. It reminds me not to become too comfortable with white sanded landscapes dotted with brightly colored swimwear.


Because there will come a day when I no longer seek tranquil turquoise coves under a big fat yellow sun but instead desire gray mad skies over foaming seas flashing their teeth, making me feel so very much alive again as only such things can.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill