Smoke in the chimney. Lights in the window. Laundry on the line. Battery on the charger. Long johns a week and change before May 1. Having spent the last 3 winters off the island, returning is abrupt- a portal instead of the halting, lurching, gradual coming of spring on the island.
The last two years, the abrupt personal climate change of returning to Matinicus was tough. The first time, the place showed my family's hasty departure of the prior fall; furniture and stuff ripped out of place leaving dreary sockets along floor and walls, emotional scar tissue fresh and painfully visible. I didn't want to know it at the time, but it was the end of a life and the start of another.
The second time, Aunt Belle's house reflected chaos and uncertainty, two to three foot mounds of "what do I do with this if I ever have the time to figure it out?" A takeover by rats, their stenchy opportunism filling the vacuum created by me not having a plan. A week of cleaning and hauling to help the place show well to real estate shoppers. Clothes the kids outgrew a year ago still in their drawers.
This year I washed a few dishes and got the stove going. And stopped by the piano.