Alexandra de Steiguer Photography

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Chapter 17
alex de steiguer

During the cold months of winter when lush summer foliage has fallen away, the Isles of Shoals have a stark, windswept appearance that gives emphasis to the rocky ledges and old buildings as they weather each storm. This place has a haunting quality; surrounded by the eternal sea, it wraps itself in time equally vast.

Absent the summer residents, the islands in winter are a cleaner canvas on which are cast the shadows of many generations come and gone. The stones tell of ancient volcanos worn away over millenia, but even the wind-worn buildings have a history that has outlasted their occupants. With quiet stoicism, they’ve witnessed time on a scale that can never be known to us.

As I walk through the buildings in the present, history steps out from every room; a man in a work-worn coat, the blur of a woman in white. Is it merely a faded photograph or a painting on the wall that makes me imagine the hallways echoing with faint laughter, and fainter sobbing? I become haunted by how briefly we flash through this place, yet I sense how eternal the story.

It’s here that lives have been lived, the same basic dramas played out and the same emotions felt – over and over again. Though they may take place generations apart, the stories are essentially the same. As long as the buildings stand, there will always be somebody at a window looking out into another century, somebody wandering the rocks, somebody sailing away. Somebody returning.