We took the mailboat run out to Isle au Haut yesterday. After we started the trip a dense fogbank rolled in, moving toward us like a living creature and then finally enveloping our small craft in its damp, blank embrace on our return journey. It was like being in a dream, with small islands silently sliding in and out of the thick mist and bobbing lobster buoys adding the only dabs of color to the monochromatic scenes.
In one of the pretty neighborhoods around Blue Hill, Maine, this derelict structure stands, cheek by jowl with some lovely, well-kept, carefully manicured New England homes. Its roof and front porch have been partially caved in by the fall of an enormous branch that has never been removed, its windows are boarded over, and its yard is choked with huge weeds.
Why? Our host said that no one in the neighborhood knows for sure — but something happened to make the house’s owner hate this house, and maybe the neighborhood, too. For 20 years, he said, she has let the house slowly decay, rejecting offers to buy it, paying the property tax bill in the nick of time, so that the decay could continue until the house looks like . . . this.
What could cause someone to let this once tidy wooden home slide into ruin, and maintain such strong feelings for decades? It’s a fascinating topic for conversation, of course, and maybe a Dickens novel or two. Whatever it was, this poor house is paying the price.