"You just know you can count on these people out here."
I'm Kim Ranlett. I'm 36 years old. I was born in Massachusetts, moved to North Haven in 1987. I was about 5 years old. Started Kindergarten here, went all through school here. I’ve lived on North Haven on and off for about 30 years, I’m guessing, more or less.
Leta And so you feel, obviously, like you’re from North Haven.
Kim I do. I do, yeah.
Leta Do you ever feel like other people don’t see it that way?
Kim I’ve never got that feeling, to be honest with you, never. I mean, when I first moved here I really fit right in with the island kids and was with them growing up my whole life. And so, I never felt that way. Maybe my parents, I think, probably did at times. My dad even named his boat “From Away,” you know, because he was a transplant. I think they got more of that end of it, maybe my older sister did as well. But I’ve never gotten that feeling and still to this day I’ve never–just don’t get that feeling.
When I was graduated high school, I decided to leave. And my parents moved off the island, due to my father’s health, and they lived in Harpswell, Maine and so I stayed down there for a few years. I was working for my mom. She was a manager at a hotel in Brunswick. I was kind of cleaning there and so I stayed down there for a few years and I met the father my children.
And so, after I had one kid I thought I wanted to move back and get back into that and then found out I was having another one, so we waited a little bit longer. And then I found out I was having another one. So, he was about–when my youngest was six months old I finally said, we're doing this. I want to be home. I didn't have the bonds that I had on the mainland. I was a stay at home mom. I didn't have many people I could go and socialize with and felt close to. So, I was like, I need to come home.
My ex, now, present ex, came back with me and we bought a house and separated but he's still here and my boys are here. They don't know anything other, you know? They're island boys, they fit in pretty well.
We all still have the same friends that we've been with forever. That's the beauty of it out here, you know? You have these relationships that you've had forever. And now, me and Noah Davisson who had been friends since I moved here, now our kids our best friends. It’s so beautiful to have. There are so many people off-island that I meet that never have never spoken to kids they went to school with again and we still are neighbors.
Well, trust-wise, I think that we have this bond, and trusting people. And you just know you can count on these people out here that have known you forever. They've seen every wrong side of you. They've seen your worst and your best and they're still your friends. And meeting new people on the mainland you're like, oh god who really is this person? You know, like, I haven’t known them forever. I'm not very comfortable with them. And then you come out here and it's like, OK, I'm home.
I feel grateful and lucky that I got a job as a housekeeper with my summer people. I started working for my summer people 20 hours a week as the little housekeeper and now after 10 years I'm the head caretaker. And they're great people. I've been with them for 10 years and they’ve seen me in all my moods and I get to see them in all their moods, you know? I feel like I'm closer to them a lot more than I’m even close to the people out here, that are here year-round, that I've known forever. I really, really enjoy spending time with them and I feel like not everyone can say that. You know what I mean? They don't treat me like I’m their worker bee, you know? And I do a lot for them and they're so appreciative and I've worked for some that aren't so appreciative. And so, it really took me a long time to decide on one family to stick with, you know? And I just lucked out.
I am from one extreme to the other seasonally. I [am] around summer residents constantly from April, my season usually starts April, and goes through November. And so, it’s kind of like completely different conversations, completely [different structure], you know, just everything about it is different.
In the winter, it’s like the same exact conversations, you know? About lobstering and I feel like the energy of people has gone down. People are grumpy and definitely winter cabin fever on North Haven. You, kind of, see the same people every single day, so it gets a little frustrating and so I get really excited when spring comes and all the summer residents come back and the energy is good. People start getting busy, traps go in the water, you know? It's such a big difference, I think. Even though I'm so busy and swamped every day I love the energy. I love everybody out here just loving North Haven and seeing the beauty of it, showing it off.
Yeah, I don't get to really enjoy the summer that's what I miss about not working for summer people because I might get a week that's slow in there but then I'm just doing other things to make up for the week that I'm slow there. But yeah that is something I miss out on. Sundays I’ll try to take for my kids to go on a picnic and things. But it's kind of sad when I spend most of my time planning other people's vacation and I'm there to make them happy and then I'm like, oh, yeah, we could do something. But then we just do something in the winter and make up for it.
The satisfaction of it all is just making people happy. They're just out here to enjoy their summer. And to see them enjoy their summer and to know that you are a big part of helping that make that happen is rewarding for me. I love at the end of the day seeing all the smiles on their faces from having a great day and good dinners and company and it's just, I think it's rewarding.
Leta When you get into a conversation with someone who’s like, I don’t like summer people–
Leta What are some of the things they might say and how do you respond?
Kim Well things like, you know, just about when they're going to leave and all that. When they come and take up the roads, you can't drive through town. You can’t, you know, do anything. Things like how the store out here has so many different things in the summer, but then the summer crew leaves and we get left with not much, you know? Which is hard.
Definitely a lack of awareness, you know? I think that's what frustrates a lot of the island people the most is the lack of awareness. Just kind of when you go to the store and you're on your lunch break and you have twenty minutes to get something but there's thirty different people having conversations about, how's your winter? Oh, when's tennis? When can we play tennis? And it's like, OK, go do that someplace else, please. We're–us people that have to work are in a rush.
People that come out here and just kind of forget that we live here and that’s the kind of thing. People coming and just kind of taking over. And they forget that we’re a community.
That’s basically what they say. It's like why, I mean, we probably wouldn't have much out here if we didn't have them. A lot of us on rely on them. I mean, the community centers, the schools, the churches, everything that they help fund and donate for. It's like, we probably wouldn't have a lot of what we do now if it wasn't for the summer people. And I have that conversation a lot with people, mostly the ones that just don’t– they don't rely on them for much. But if you really think about it, they buy lobsters too. They give money to the town for us to have the things that we have. They just need to open those eyes a little bit more, I think.
Photos courtesy of the Ranlett family