Waves are locked in ice on a silver day while dreams of summer stroll the shore. The gulls still sing but the tourists are gone. It’s just me who’s crazy enough to comb the beach today, searching for shells and glass hidden beneath the snow. I bend down. My ungloved hand closes on something clear, smooth and cold like a glacier. The heat of my skin melts it at first contact and I let go – its ice, not glass. I keep walking, hoping I’ll see red glint in the dim winter sun – the gold, the holy grail of sea glass.
The sky blooms with streaks of pink and purple, possibilities of endless nights sitting on the porch serenaded by peepers and crickets. The sky ignites my dreams of rowing and swimming under the blazing the sun. The sky promises romance and inspiration; ice cream and love. I hold his hand on the dock as the colors fade, yielding their territory to the stars.
The leaves change color and chills master the night. I’m planning a lesson while he scrambles to button up the house. He doesn’t want the pipes to freeze.
I’m back at work, teaching through the sunset, driving home in the dark.
The smell of bacon and low tide permeate the air. I breathe deep, savoring the warm, salty aroma. The early spring air still has a bite to it, but the sun soothes the sting as it warms my skin.
Its quiet still – only a few cars out polluting the illusion of pristine air. The music of songbirds and gulls is still the dominant sound. Afternoon winds have yet to stir the ocean, so sparkling sunlight dances across the silky, aquamarine liquid.
I sip my tea, letting the bitterness of over brewed leaves distract me from the displacement I feel. Years ago, I could have called this place home. But home is two hours to the north now, on a lake, in a house that was someone else’s childhood get away. They sold it just like my parents sold the cottage.
The people who bought the cottage tore it down and replaced it with a monstrous McMansion. It certainly isn’t the worst one on the street, but it is nothing like the little shacks that used to populate Monomoscoy Island.
In some ways, my grandfather was unknowing ahead of his time, building with salvaged windows and floors. None of that aesthetic is preserved in the house that stands in its place. Brand new windows, cementitious siding, shiny rocks and pvc trim have replaced the weathered brown shingles, mismatched windows and church floors.
I was kinder to my stolen oasis. Rot forced us to rip out old floors, but the ones we replaced them with were rustic with the same width boards. My husband spent weeks reconstructing the interior of cabinets and walls so we could preserve the old paneling and faces. Sure, we ripped down the white vinyl siding, but we replaced it shingles more like what would have covered the house when it was built in the early 1900’s. Some claim that it would have been easier to tear it down than fix it, but I wanted to preserve the house’s spirit, not break it.
Later in the afternoon, I’m “home” at the house my husband and I have lived in for two and a half years. I’m on the porch. The only thing we changed in this space is the furniture. It has the same indoor-outdoor mini-golf carpet, the same green and white paint and the same screens.
Small waves lap at the sandy beach out front of the house. Voices and the hum of a few boat engines float across the water, competing with birdsongs for my attention. My cat is perched above a speaker, trying to hunt the black birds, occasionally talking back to them with trills and chirps.
There is no cold bite in the air, just the afternoon sun warming my face. It’s getting lower, bathing the sand and water in gold. I have dirt under my fingernails and sand on my feet. There is no salt in the air, but the grilling meat makes my stomach growl.
It’s not the cape, but its mine. My roots are finally starting to break through the soil, drinking up the soul food only the earth can feed me.