The ground rules, as established by me, are as follows: if you are going to write about us then we get to write about you back. It’s only fair. For that reason I don’t think they like me at The New York Times anymore.

We had a message at the town office a few weeks ago from a photojournalist working on a story for The Guardian about voting in rural areas. She immediately realized, “Matinicus Island would be a great example!” With some hesitation I called the eager writer’s number (with its Idaho area code). My fear and trepidation had nothing to do with actually talking about rural voting. As town clerk and registrar in this town of well-under-100-mostly, I take pride in our squeaky-clean and voter-friendly elections.

I was worried about the usual stereotyping because we (like all the other islands) have been through this nonsense before. Shrill harridan that I am, I blurted out to the poor journalist my particulars: “If you promise not to use the words “quaint fishing village” or “hearty souls” I’ll be happy to answer your questions. If you’re going down that road, I’m outta here.”

Understood, she promised. I thought, silently, “Fine for you to say that. Let’s hope your editors don’t get their oar in somewhere.” It happens all the time.

Did I mention The Guardian? I asked, to be sure: “The MANCHESTER Guardian? Like, England?” Yeah.

In any case, one telephone interview turned into two, followed by a third interview in person in the passenger cabin of the ferry, not to mention that photo session aboard the Everett Libby while I was on garbage detail. I was asked way-to-the-outfield questions like, “Why did I want to participate in the democratic process?” My buddies on that same ferry squinted at me from inside their pickup trucks, and rolled their eyes as I posed and twirled and fluffed like a hair-dye model (oh, sure) on the vehicle deck. They were doubtless all praying nobody wanted to take pictures of them. Before long I was chattering away like a regular idiot with Greta, the photojournalist, lulled into a (hopefully not false) sense of security by her Montana roots and her Portland address and the fact that she’d been to Matinicus before and was renting a camp from my next-door neighbors to stay a couple of days, which is about 47 hours longer than most journalists give it.

People who try to write about Matinicus, including our Greta, invariably ask, “How many people live on the island?” That is not a simple question with a quick, arithmetic answer. I’m not being coy and obtuse; it really isn’t. You get into all sorts of complexity with feelings, from the sentimental to the snobbish, the territorial to the bitter to the patently grateful. There are issues of ancestry (like Maine native-ness, only on steroids) and fishing rights, and entitlement, and a retired lobsterman’s right to go south in the winter without being called a summer person because that’s just insulting.

When they ask “how many people” they might mean, “How many people will show up to vote here, and can’t you just do it quickly and go home?” (as they imagine Dixville Notch, N.H., at midnight). This is different than “How many people are registered to vote?,” itself not the same as the census numbers, or any random physical nose-count, which also differ from “How many people pay property taxes here?” which doesn’t, by the way, equate to owning a home or even a piece of ground because we have this arrangement called “Harbor Point, common undivided,” which mortgage lenders hate but is, as they say, “a thing.” This differs entirely from, “How many people call this home because they were born here?”

I don’t know; maybe people should have to check off more than one item from that list before they are issued their membership card. It sure ain’t up to me. I’m new here.

I might recommend that other people not try to write about Matinicus, but, oh well. The temptation seems irresistible. Eat some cookies and move on, I say.

Anyway, I explained to Greta — and to Katy, another writer working for the Guardian who got in touch a week later — that we hold elections the same way as any other small Maine town. We have a polling place set up at our municipal office, a ballot box (albeit an antique one) and poll workers dutifully sanitizing the ball-point pens. Since we are a tiny community, it is rare that a voter is not known to a ballot clerk, so announcing one’s name as one steps up to the table isn’t that big a deal. Still, it is proper to do so. Also, we usually have free doughnuts. Maybe that’ll make it into the Guardian article.