There are days when you can’t see the horizon out here. Days when the fog is so dense, sea and sky are stitched together as one fabric, but you can’t find the seam. The ocean stretches on from here to Portugal, people like to say. The ocean is virtually endless.
And on long summer days, stuck in traffic or in line at the post office, the season can seem endless. Dawn breaks here on Nantucket early--somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning in these high summer months. Children are sent to bed before the sky is completely dark. Tangles of rosa rugosa bloom and die and bloom again, pinpricks of hot pink dotting the beach. In the morning, reminders of last night’s bonfires litter the coastline. Doesn’t it feel like summer will last forever?
Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine that this day, or this year, or this lifetime, will one day be as far away from our memories as it is from Nantucket to Portugal.
I visited an old friend in Cape Cod Hospital recently, in a room that overlooked a vibrant green field of conservation land. There were hardly any houses, no strip malls, nothing to block the view of the scrubby trees. A railroad or something must have run through there, a path that followed the craggy edge of the Cape. A ribbon of mist encircled the treetops. If only you could have opened the windows, could have smelled the salty air, my friend might have known he was not that far from home. But in the nothing space of a hospital room, we were nowhere.
I asked questions about his childhood--each of my words depth sounding his memories, looking for the sand bar, for moments of recognition. He recalled a canoe he had as a child. I had one, too, an Old Town. I think of it often, on summer days when the wind rustles the reeds of Miacomet Pond. I wish I knew where it went.
It’s strange, what memories stick with you and which ones drift away. There are moments I want to tuck in my pockets, sew into the lining of my clothes and carry with me always. The other day at Miacomet Beach, I watched friends dive into the waves, the water a little warmer in the late afternoon light. The sea and sky were the same grey/green color of fog as it begins to roll in. They rode wave after wave on their boogie boards and bellies, riding the crest all the way to the shore. They looked like mermaids, sirens, sundrenched and salty. I wanted to hold this scene a little longer, a few moments of pure joy, of the whole world falling away except for us. There was no horizon, nothing ahead of us or behind us. Just the here and now.