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Winter elegy


I took a detour and slowly drove through the local boatyard yesterday. The sky was low and gray, the trees were bare, and boats were everywhere: Shrink-wrapped, on jackstands, flank-to-flank they stood, their normally submerged regions exposed to the winds and weather.

I spotted a beautiful Dyer I had considered buying a few years ago, tucked in a back lot of boats that stood like a field of windswept wildflowers. A catboat waited to be wrapped at the entrance to the shed — mast stepped, sails stowed, its barn door rudder now an unwilling winter wind vane.

Bare docks stretched out into the white-capped river like fingers reaching, too late, for something just dropped, the hand of a loved one who’s already left.

Winter has never been my season, but I try each year to accept it with a little more grace. In this part of the country its boundaries are severe and unmistakable, the high price we pay for the annual miracles of a flamboyant spring, summer and fall.

In this time that tastes of mourning to those of us yearning to be our better selves — breathing freedom from the salt air, in the sound of water lapping against a hull and the cries of the seabirds as they circle and dive — I dwell on nature. There are purposes to hibernation and dormancy, and I see the beauty there, too. A bare winter field secretly nurtures the tendrils of a thousand summer sunflowers.

Let’s be patient together as we count down the days to the first snow-capped crocus, the pale sun of longer days, the hungry birds in the budding forsythia. They will come. And we’ll go back to the sea again.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue.

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