Fiona Reappears

Recently, “06880” mentioned — again — Fiona’s Disappearing Island.

That’s the bit of land you can see (or, depending on the tide, not see) near the Soundview Drive jetty, at the Hillspoint Road/South Compo bend (aka Schlaet’s Point).

Just like Fiona’s Island, her story has popped up regularly here.

Fiona’s Disappearing Island sign returned recently to the corner of Soundview Drive and Hillspoint Road. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

But who is Fiona? Betsy P. Kahn explains:

I rescued Fiona from a shelter in North Carolina. Sadly, she had been very abused.

She was destined for euthanasia, but I fell in love with her pretty face.

She got a second chance in life. She moved with me to Westport, where we settled in our first little beach cottage on Danbury Avenue.

Life was a dream for her …

Except that with all the beautiful beach to run and play on, she was a “runner” who wouldn’t come back. That meant she had to basically live her life outdoors — always on a leash.

Fiona with her leash, on Soundview Drive.

Until one day on a beach walk, I discovered a wee island, accessible only when the tide was super low.

That island became her salvation.

We began to live our lives by the tides. I’d take Fiona to “her island.” It controlled her desire to run and play to the space and time of the disappearing land.

She began to trust me. Her spirit calmed. As time passed, she became a piece of my heart. She stopped running away.

Fiona and friend, near her island.

Through the years we covertly hung funky signs, painted by our family and often bejeweled.

They became prize items to steal. One vanished the day after a wedding was held on the island.

That was totally OK. We made more, and hung them even higher.

I am so pleased to see that people remember the name: Fiona’s Disappearing Island.

One day I’d like to write a book about her journey of second chances, and the life of discovery and renewal found when one lives by the water here (and only at very low tide).

Fiona lived to a ripe age of 14. We sprinkled her ashes (of course) on her favorite spot.

At very low tide.

High sign.

If anyone has not yet discovered “Fiona’s Disappearing Island.” I highly recommend it.

Come to Compo at very low tide. Walk out past the Schlaet’s Point jetty.

It’s magical, with green marsh grasses, tidal pools, horseshoe crabs, mussels and sometimes conch shells.

And always plenty of space to run and run and run.

Viva Fiona!

PS: I found the disappearing island once on an old town map. It was labeled  “Dumb Island.”

(If you’ve ever wondered about Fiona’s Disappearing Island — or other Westport arcana — “06880” is your place. Please click here to support stories like this. Thank you!)

15 responses to “Fiona Reappears

  1. Diane Silfen

    I love the story …. From now on I will always think of Fiona when I see her Island !

  2. Wonderful story at wake up time….thanks.

  3. Wonderful to read over the first cup of coffee of the week Dan. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Chris Corgel

    Kudos to Betsy for her kindness, joy and her sense of wonderment!

  5. Richard Fogel

    Happy to paws and think. Great story Kindness wins

  6. Rindy Higgins

    Betsy! What a sweet story. I never knew about Fiona! That island is special! It is also where I brought my New Canaan first graders about 1980. We were so engrossed with the tide pools that I forgot to watch the tide which came in and trapped us. We made a “chain” of parents to carry the kids off! And then back to my Danbury Ave house! Many of those kids, now about 50 yrs old recall this unique field trip!

    • What a Fabulous Teacher!!!! i bet they all do remember being caught by the tide and I love the line of parents—that is a GOOD LESSON!! I’ve been caught out there too

  7. Sunil Hirani

    What a beautiful story Betsy – Fiona’s wonderful spirit and your positive energy lives on in Westport!!!

  8. Robin Singer

    Love this story ❤️

  9. Jack Whittle

    Great heartwarming story, beautifully told. Much better and more meaningful name than “dumb island”!

    There’s another Westport island shown on old maps, although no longer discoverable by anything but props and keels – Wright’s Island. Don’t know the history of that name, but I do know it’s location.

  10. Patricia McMahon

    That Fiona was quite a gal, as her mom is, and a creative force of nature. What a fabulous, heartwarming story, one of my faves.
    Betz, i look forward to reading your book in the near future.

  11. John Petterson

    Fantastic story….

  12. Betsy I LOVE this story. I have walked that island during low tide and appreciated the beauty there. I appreciate it all the more, knowing the the connection to you and your Fiona, and of course that you made those signs.

  13. Andrew Colabella

    I remember seeing Fiona’s Disappearing Island a long time ago. Maybe when I was working for parks sometime between 2008-2014. Always so colorful and very creative. Would love to see this made permanent

    • Me too! Fiona’s Disappearing island! — seems way more interesting than “dumb island” which is the only name i ever found for it- (on a very old map)
      it’s normally not marked- sits off of Schlaets Point

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