There is a saying here in New England where I live that if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change. My cousin, who travels a great deal and is quite knowledgeable about things like this tells me this applies to many places and not only to New England. Just today, there has been a fluctuation from cold and crisp to rain and sleet, then for a short while it snowed and now it has warmed again. I have learned to expect the unexpected and dress in layers. Spending Thanksgiving with my cousins on Martha’s Vineyard I brought heavy sweaters and hiking boots to walk the beach but I was not prepared psychologically to greet the wintry landscape and changing shoreline. Normally I visit this island in the summer. My feet are bare and I reluctantly leave at day’s end. On this visit I walked briskly and was glad to have a car and heated home to return to. The beach was still beautiful but in a stark way. In the summer there is green alongside the entry to the beach and it is warm and populated with people, too many, we often feel. Now the landscape was primarily gray and brown. The trees stood bare of leaves and only ducks could be seen swimming in the sea. Most remarkable was the changing shoreline. Where there once had been a pond, we now stood on sand seeing tree roots and eroded cliffs. My cousin, who was hosting us and spends time here informed us that the sand was drifting back and this is part of a natural cycle produced by wind and currents. Sand is taken from one spot and deposited elsewhere. There is gain and loss depending on location and perspective. Everything changes, we know this conceptually but seeing it with fresh eyes is both wondrous and challenging. The house where my husband and I, cousins, and friends are staying for this Thanksgiving holiday will be on the market in the spring and most likely sold by the summer to be inhabited by other families. We too are changing. I now stop to appreciate the beauty of nature but I currently need help to climb the embankment by the beach. The children of the family have become young adults and our parents, aunts and uncles are no longer with us. We are the older generation. I am the oldest of the cousins, a big gap when we were growing up but now it is hardly noticed except when we look at old photos.
In this house by the harbor I have risen early and am gazing out the window watching the reflection of light on the water in the bay. It is a wintry gray day but the clouds are layered and sliced by light. There is a sensation of stillness and balance even as the wind ripples the water and clouds change shape and colors from shades of gray to silvery white. There is one lone boat in the harbor and it bobs up and down surrounded only by water. The boats normally crowding the harbor are in dry dock or warmer ports. Being still, I can see movement and there is a freshness to the day. Sometimes it takes a change of scene and season to help me remember that nothing ever stays the same be it the weather, the sand, the sky or us human beings. There is continuity and harmony in the cycles of nature and a continuity of generations as we come together to give thanks and appreciate this dynamic world of which we are a part.