Saturday, January 24, 2015


The day is a few minutes longer on each end and what a difference. Aside from accidentally working a little longer, it is a great thing.

It is still January, but a couple of days ago, I was swept by the vision of being home, with gear work happening in my yard. I heard the boats of those more diligent and quicker into the water than myself,  the crows, pheasants, gulls, fourwheelers and songbirds, felt the wind and smelled the woodsmoke, salt air, and smoldery trash fires. It is only a couple of months off.

I live in the real estate law world during the off-island season. My time is occupied with deeds and mortgages, easements, surveys, puzzles and problem solving, getting the deal done, but hopefully not in a way that will bring regrets and litigation later. 

I still run into deeds with descriptions telling me to look for an old spruce stump with barbed wire in it. As I look at the predecessor deeds, the title records often suggest that the spruce stump has sat unchanged since the Taft administration.

Land conveyances have changed and remain the same. As much as we have precision in land surveys with distances down to the hundredth of a foot, and courses expressed in magnetic year specific directions in degrees, minutes and seconds, achieving clarity and permanence on the face of the earth- an earth inhabited by humans- is still a challenge.

It is endlessly fascinating until such time as there is some light at the treeline after 4:45 p.m. when thoughts drift to spring.

As well as things have gone since the boat came out of the water, and as trying as it was having the boat in the water but not moving much on account of many previously documented malfunctions, I just can’t wait to get back at it. I’m choosing of course to ignore the first couple of days of flat tires, dead batteries, mouse droppings, reluctant oil burners and trying to remember where that thing might be that I need in order to deal with those other things. One neighbor described it as looking for shit you need to fix shit to fix the other shit.


I was coming across to North Haven on the ferry for office work and realizing again with some amusement that I find myself during winter in places which are very inviting and lively with people in the summer. It’s a a left-handed, square peg Offseason thing. I wintered over on North Haven one very eventful year, but have only tagged up briefly any time when the weather was hot and there were leaves in the trees.

I spent a number of winters on Matinicus, and never pined for Applebees or pavement. I never struggled to find something to do. It was the opposite problem- a sense of panic that I would run out of winter way before I felt caught up on tasks I couldn’t do in the summer.  The queue would form in my mind shortly after January 1.

Spring is always a miracle in our latitude, but is particularly moving on Matinicus. I’ve been on the mainland the last few winters and missed out.

It’s not the same to show up with the grass already green. I like watching the straw-sepia tone of the land melt into green, yellow and blossom shades, and the slate gray water with the crinkled horizon inhale all that soft blue out of the sky and back to the sea.

The magic starts in March, although it is not the Glinda pink sequined kind of magic. It is the sort of magic that makes people say something like ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with everyone else, I’m just fine.’ March is well suited to irritability, paranoia, Netflix-athons, misinterpreting-or choosing to ignore- that look from or tone of voice of your family members, very early “happy hour,” and would be the perfect time for Salem-style hallucinatory justice proceedings.

The wind only leaves any gravel on the road because the road is frozen down tight;  until it isn’t at which time ground clearance is important. It’s Fargo-by-the-sea.

Then there are cracks in the windbeaten fa├žade. Some time in mid to late March, a day arrives when the wind lets go and the sun takes hold. A few such days will follow before the panic sets in over the coming season of early mornings and short rest, grass that grows an inch an hour, visiting friends and relatives, lobstering, outside fixup projects and trips off island for events that just couldn’t be scheduled in February such as weddings and graduation ceremonies or court appearances.

Those few days are a sweet spot between one crush and another.