New Year’s Day

Grey and chilly today. Ranged across the Sound, duck blinds stand bovine against the horizon. The wind howled in door frames and past windows all night. We began the week with a/c, moved to open windows, and have now turned on the heat. Where yesterday the Sound and sky merged, horizon dissolving into shimmering whiteness, today the grey, choppy water keeps to itself below the clouds, chocking against the stones of the breakwater.

Kat saw a ghost on the first night, in her upstairs bedroom, and we’ve been blaming things on it ever since – cranky children, lost books, draughts. Poor phantasm, such a convenient scapegoat. I joke, but I have stopped taking showers in the upstairs bathroom.

Yesterday, Kat and I walked the tiny nature preserve at Springer’s Point, a path through damp, tentacled live oaks festooned with lichen. Stillness and cloud-light, and we emerge on the shores of the Sound, by a marsh behind oyster beds. A dog barks insistently at a man standing in the deep sand. Two women on a bench greet us as we pass and turn back into the wood. A tiny, fenced enclosure marks a few ivy-covered graves, one marked also by a small, moss-colored rearing horse.

On this New Year’s Day we have been quiet, a little bemused by a week of leisure and the prospect of heading home tomorrow. I will be sad to leave the open sky, though glad also to return home to draw strength from the familiar. Here’s to more love than can be contained in a single year, great rolling waves of it forward and forward onto your shores.

Wednesday morning, Ocracoke

A glorious, full morning before 10 am. Woke to clouds, silver-white air which re-shuffled itself and produced patches of blue, morning sun on water, and a fragment of rainbow over the Sound which faded slowly. Then a higher section of it returned, faded. This game continued until the entire rainbow emerged faintly, driving us from our porch frolic of ponies and trucks and attempted yoga out onto the dock to catch it, to sit in still, gentle air in the blue-grey world lit by a morning rainbow, a few drops of rain, the sun’s washed gold.

We sang “Favorite Things” at Rowan’s direction, over and over. We heard distant shots from duck hunters on the water, cheered on the ducks winging quickly past. Sun salutations on the slimy dock with dizzying sky overhead.

By mid-week we have been fortunate to take in fog, mist, sunlight, moonlight on water, the Milky Way arcing overhead, wind and whitecaps, and now rainbow, always with birds, fish, the other day a jellyfish umbrella-ing past the dock. We are fortunate to be here and yet this place is not a gift to us or to anyone, it is itself only. It doesn’t care about us, or even what we do to it – it simply persists in all the ways that it can.

Now the clouds are settling in.

Afternoon in clouds


Didn’t blogs used to look like this?


Today brings wind and chop, clouds grey-white. Wind makes it hard to settle, to pull my thoughts together, and it calls my gaze ever to the riding water. A quick walk wakes my limbs and freshens the bones of my face.

Ducks ride out the wind tucked down low among the waves beneath the dock. The ladder rattles against wood.

As a temporary dweller here, I am conscious of how much weather this house has seen, how it sings to itself, its particular creaks, thumps, whistling window frames, regardless of who is here to listen, if anyone. With the wind coming at the house head-on, the rushing Sound beyond the windows on three sides, it’s as if we sail toward the horizon beneath the cloud-white sky.


Ocracoke Morning


Today, grey and white. Yesterday morning, sun and breeze. Sounds – always the sea at a distance. Heat pump compressor, on and off. I feel annoyed by it but try to remember that all the sounds are part of this place. Without the heat pump, we would be much less comfortable. Other sounds – tiny water splashes against pilings or stones. Hammering, nail guns, drill. Bird cries, sometimes a bold gull, sometimes a duck’s mutter. Rooster crow.

Five pelicans in their elegant flight, wingbeats in canon down the line. The current of the Sound causes the illusion of the dock always slowly tipping as you sit on it. This flat, scrub, shred of an island holds sky and water together.

Ocracoke Island, December 26

Drove through rain and fog all afternoon. After the Chesapeake Bay tunnel, thick fog on the bay obscured the land as we crossed the last couple of miles of bridge. Rowan said, ‘I can only see the water.’ Later she said, ‘Don’t tell, but I – I’m in love with Star Wars. I want to marry it.’ I said I understood how she feels.

From the ferry line on Hatteras, we watched the moon rise thick and gold. We missed the 6 pm ferry and the 7 pm was cancelled, so the trip ran longer than expected. But moonlight on the water and gulls, ghostly, following the boat softened travel-fatigue.

The house sits right on the Pamlico Sound, facing out. We unloaded and explored, and I kept drifting toward the water side, where the moon was. Stepping down off the porch and walking toward the dock, the world expanded before me. The water drifted mirror-smooth, reflecting the sky’s cloud filigree, the moon two pearls above and below. Remnant fog veiled the horizon, so no line divided sky and reflection. The dock made a bridge through clouds real and reflected and they glided along with my steps, disorienting, extraordinary.

I stood at the end of the dock, heard the ocean’s distant roar across the island, only once or twice a night bird. The night felt at once a held breath and a long exhale.