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On frozen pond.

Embracing the Bleak

January in Nantucket: a phrase that strikes terror in the hearts of some (unhardy, in my reborn-New England mind) island residents, who fled months ago, at the first fallen leaf. For me, it truly signals new beginnings, as the month I met the then future father of my children, the month I walked empty docks with a tiny infant strapped under my leather jacket, the month my younger son was released from a Boston hospital after a life-threatening accident, and the month when daylight begins to increase, albeit imperceptibly, until the slant of the sun changes the look of everything around here in February. And snow … the anticipation of this place blanketed in white, so quiet and insulated, even with the wind shrieking through (and shaking) the eaves of my house.

I find myself breathing a giant sigh of relief, with the intensity of summer’s work and play, and the long shanty hours of fall scallops, behind me at last. What for some is unbearable dullness is comfort for me, and I know, certainly, that I am aging. I’m blessed in my quiet bungalow, tucked away in the pines and scrub oak, enjoying the companionship of my large dogs. They love the empty spaces where we walk, happy to chase bits of seaweed, blowing down the sand at Nobadeer, along a furious ocean. While others plan their escapes to warmer climes, I plan my retreat to a crackling fire in the living room (who has the best, cheapest wood this time of year, by the way?).

There’s time to write again, and think, and knit, and dream. There’s time to linger for hours over coffee with friends, invent new soup recipes, plan the spring gardens, and read books in alarmingly short periods of time … this doesn’t happen in summer; I can barely read the email. Mainly it’s the month when many of us can do what we want, and if that’s travel, so be it. We used to run screaming for the warmth of my mother’s home in south Florida each winter, lingering as long as possible. We’d drag school work along with the kids to extend our days living in vivid, tropical color, while we watched the storms on television, blasting across the east to our bleak and empty island abode, and shuddering at the thought of going back to “that.”

But “that” is exactly what I now embrace. As many times as I’ve fallen in love with this place over and over again, the ways it happens never cease to amaze me. Adoring the stark simplicity of January here is just the latest in a series of miracles I could never imagine to be possible. So here I remain, in anticipation of more to come…