Dragons Passing

Fri, 04/08/2016 - 10:30am

The first Sunday in April began a wild, beautiful, broken day.

There was a snow squall in the morning, a cloud of white disbelief roiling beyond my window, the not-uncommon flurry but nonetheless evoking a but-it's-after-Easter! protest. These flurries are always a wonder, no matter how many ways they have been listed in every forecast, from mere showers to real snow.

It did not last long, by mid-morning the precipitation had changed over to short-lived rain. The wind, though, that blasting wind reducing the previous day's gentle calm to a fanciful dream, did not abate.

It was a hard blow out of the north and west, one I noticed only as the ever-present wind of a stormy morning, watching the flags of the pavilion on the hill above the harbor to help determine the best way to park behind the church. It was only when I stopped, pulled in heading north, overlooking the water, that I realized how choppy it was out there, all white-capped ocean spreading from Clay Head to the ragged horizon.

There had been high wind advisories posted so it should not have been a surprise that the sea was so high but the status of the boat schedule was not on my mind. It was only after church, talking to a high school teacher hoping to get back to Connecticut for Monday morning classes, that I realized there were no boats or planes and we could have been living in another long ago century. The device he held in his hand offered about as much help as my “but the information should be there...” statement. A comment — if ever there was one — on our expectation of technology.

The sun had started shining steadily sometime during worship, even as the wind, coming from a slightly different direction, whistled through a door generally silent, and the very sound of air rushing around the building made it feel even colder than it was.

“Dragons” I had seen in a forecast spoof of the crazy weather upcoming, slated for Tuesday, but given that the weather invariably moves faster than initially predicted, I had declared they would arrive Monday. They were here Sunday, banging their big tails against old buildings as they moved through town, knocking the occasional shingle out of place. Surely they come under some “act of God” exclusion in the small print of insurance policies. 

At noon the big blow was pushing a low tide even lower, a great wind taking on the mighty North Atlantic, trying to force encroaching waves back into sea. The ocean was green and white and gray, the beach on the move, wraiths of pale sand, racing to meet the water, all beneath a raging sky of competing blues and grays. I stopped to watch the spectacle, the convergence of energies, and felt my car shake. It should not have come as a surprise but it did, it always does. 

My camera was safely on my desk, at home.

I had meant to go to the water, later, to walk down and wonder at the weather at Mansion Beach, but there was something about the day, even with the afternoon sunshine and drying wind that felt as broken as the array of twigs, snapped from the trees, in the yard. This year there are more, the weather has come in a damaging direction; there was even a small branch I realized when Autumn pranced off awkwardly with her “find” — which she soon dropped in favor of chasing a pheasant into the brush.

It was a day of disconnectedness, made worse by my finally finishing a book. It was a novel, “just” a novel I always feel the need to add, as though I could better my mind by reading more serious stuff, Cod, and Isaac's Storm, both at hand, or at least one of a stack of historical novels so well researched they might as well be non-fiction.

That novel had in it two lines that kept me awake on two different nights, simple words put in a particular order, thoughts easy to push aside until they are there in print, powerful enough to keep me from sleep but not so memorable that the first were not erased by the second. Overall, I realize with some relief, it will not be a movie, it simply would not work. I will never be tempted to see it as it has been “adapted” — as virtually all books must be to “fit” the screen. Nuance will not be lost, I will not be disappointed.

Now, for the stacks of books around me, I am without an anchor, a bedtime story, something to ease me toward sleep and I have absolutely no interest in delving back into a Stephen King tome bought a few years ago, when I was seeking distraction. The certainty that the evil in the souls of the certain townspeople would prevail was too off-putting.

Perhaps were it not over 1,000 pages it would have been suitable for the day, but it is very, very long and back in the stack it went.

Tuesday morning, and it is cold and sunny. The dragons must have passed in the early morning, leaving yet another dusting of snow in their wake, a blob of ivy blue on the radar hovering over the Cape and the islands. They have not left the region; even deeper cold is forecast. I think of a plumber in the market telling me he will not turn on the water in an empty house on the optimistic wish of the owners and I hope they appreciate his decades of knowledge that keep their pipes empty and unbroken by the cold.

Autumn is upstairs, barking, and I look out the kitchen window to see winter dull deer in the winter dull field, visible when the sun hits their back, solid among the leafless, lacy brush. There are geese on the hill as well, honking, and I remember it is just April on Block Island.