Settin’ (yee-haw)

Settin’ (yee-haw)

The air was mild when these photos were taken. A recent ice storm had encased each blade of dune grass in ice which sparkled in the sun. Whenever a breeze swept through, they knocked together and sounded like wind chimes. The snow was crunchy on top from the recent freeze, but it stopped abruptly at the high tide line, revealing a smooth expanse of damp sand underneath. The ocean waves, crashing noisily a few days prior, were lazy on this day. Not so much in a careless way, but more like they were in no hurry to slap onto the shore and roll away. They commanded the scene, making the beach walk feel relaxing rather than hectic. Thick lines of sea foam bubbled up on the sand. The shoreline was a gorgeous composition of sand of muted brown, gold ribbons of sunlight gleaming under the water, white wave heads, dark rocks, and a brilliant blue sky.

Several seagulls dotted the beach. It’s often difficult to remember that they don’t cease to exist in the winter; the rumble of waves, the hissing of sand being tossed aside by a shoe, and the call of gulls are associated mostly with summertime, so to hear them now, bundled in a jacket and hat, feels almost sacrilegious. Some seagulls flew low to the ground. Some bobbed up and down in the water, impervious to the temperature and to their sinusoidal movements in the waves. They behaved just like they do in the summer, which also seemed strange because everything else felt different.

It was the warmest day of the whole month. Other beach walkers passed each other with a wave and a clipped greeting to which only New Englanders are accustomed. There were no children, nobody tossed a ball or a frisbee, nobody touched the water. Everyone walked slowly up and down the shore, as if this were their only chance to stretch their legs but too early to lift that oppressive winter veil. No, definitely too early.