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Winter elegy

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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.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue.