, Gloucester, MA


February 8, 2013

Journal Pages: Chilling beauty of a winter's morn

When temperatures plummeted and held their place last week, the wind cut into my cheeks as I passed a bundled-up, unrecognizable soul walking on Stacy Boulevard.

He shouted out to me through a wool scarf wrapped tightly round much of his face, “It’s about half over now, Feb. 1. We’ll get through it!”

Over my shoulder, I called into the wind, “I guess we will – we always do.”

A few seagulls rode the waves at the shore, unconcerned with the frigid water temperature. Across the harbor a single boat punctuated the expanse of dark gray water, its captain surely colder than we two folk passing each other, at least on land, a half-hour before the sun was up. “I guess we will – we always do!”

I’d forgotten to glance at the thermometer before leaving home. Even through my thick gloves, I had to pump my fingers as they began to numb. I could have used another layer of shirt and some wrist warmers, but the cold pushed me to walk even faster, and I was determined to finish my hour’s walk.

In the garden at the Fishermen’s Wives monument, the skeletal rose bushes still had loose cuffs of hay set thoughtfully around their lower brown branches, and lined across the railing in front of them, a dozen seagulls tried to maintain balance against the harsh wind.

None of these conditions served to temper my love of the early-morning dark and the sweet solitude that accompanies it, though, and I couldn’t suppress a smile when, closer to Stage Fort Park where the pavement reaches the dirt road, there were imprints of boots, shoes, and dog paws set deep in frozen solid mud.

A chattering squirrel shook a pinecone hoping for a loose seed or two. Both he and I were disappointed that I had no peanuts in my pocket this time.

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