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Get ready

Writing a monthly column has its challenges, though they’re not what you might think. It’s true that a good topic can be temporarily elusive, but a very early wake-up call summons a patch of quiet time and space to think. Deadline pressure and strong coffee usually does the rest. (If I don’t have more than a dozen good ideas buried somewhere in my subconscious after four decades of living, I haven’t been living right.) No, the hard part is timing.

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Many years ago I had a friend who was an interior decorator on Nantucket. His home was being photographed for the December issue of a glamorous shelter magazine, and he needed models. So on a scorching August day, we all donned thick-knit sweaters and carried pies or arms of firewood, pretending to shiver and stamping our feet for the benefit of a photographer as we entered the festively decorated living room. (Our cheeks were rosy, but readers never suspected the cause was impending heat stroke.) The seasonal counterfeit felt absurd, and although our deadlines at Soundings are not as extreme, we do produce each issue about eight weeks in advance of our publication month.

As I write this, we have just had our office Christmas party, and it might be instinctive to reflect, for example, on the end of the year or resolutions for the new one. A lot of what might naturally well up in the heart or psyche as a perfect subject right now must be relegated to the topical dust heap. Current events are also out, for obvious reasons. It takes some getting used to, but as an optimist, I like that in the darkest months of winter I have license to think of spring. (Of course, you can imagine my sense of panic when I sit down in July to write the September column!)

The last few months, in real time, have been ones from which we all are probably eager to avert our gaze. No matter where you stand politically, it’s heart-breaking to witness the refugee crisis, it’s scary to contemplate increased terrorism at home and abroad, and election season brings its own heightened hopes and fears for our future. If you like sidestepping potentially explosive conversations, even How ’bout this crazy weather we’re having? is no longer safe.

However, there are some things about February 2016 of which we can be reasonably sure. In the Northeast, where many of our readers live, the winds may howl, the snows may drift, the mercury may plunge (or maybe not!), but spring is coming. The New England Boat Show offers a nearby opportunity to see what’s new if you’re considering a purchase or planning new electronics or system enhancements to your current vessel. For those in the Southeast, there are the Miami and West Palm Beach boat shows, which promise new boats or boating upgrades and a chance to feel extra-smart as you watch pale New Englanders thaw on the docks.

Wherever you live, find a boat show and go — because when summer is here, all we want to do is cut the engines, throw out the hook and soak up those perfect moments that carry us through the year. Now is the time to look ahead. Tackle small projects, schedule big ones with your yard, pull up some charts and think about where you want to point the bow in April or May. It’s not just a nice way to while away the colder, darker months — it’s a smart way to maximize your enjoyment of a season that will always be way too fleeting.

Yes, little is promised to us, but the sea will still be there. Get ready.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue.