by J J Cohen
Just back from a brief trip to Ogunquit, our annual sojourn to the Maine coast to spend some time with my family. My parents and three sisters live in three different states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts) but within thirty minutes of this little village on the shore. Since Alex was very young we have ended the summer with a rendezvous here.
Abrupt transitions began today. Alex was up at 5:45 to catch the bus to his high school orientation. He's nervous and happy at once about the year ahead. I told him that the aftershock we experienced at 1 am (we awoke to the windows rattling) was an omen from the earth that this year will rock. Katherine meanwhile enters second grade this year; her orientation is Friday. We'll spend today together doing chores. At some point I'll answer my 70 accumulated email messages.
As for me, I have a year's reprieve from teaching -- and I know this sounds strange but I am missing the classroom already. Twelve months with a daunting number and variety of commitments loom. Besides directing MEMSI, I have essays due on giants, race, and animals; three edited
collections in progress; talks to compose and present on speculative realism/object oriented ontology, various lithic topics,
environmental ethics, monsters, deformity, and objectal animism. A crazy amount of travel, too, especially in the spring. I am worried about not having time to write the book to which this year was supposed to be dedicated.
Though it felt indulgent to go to Maine so quickly after Australia, I'm glad we made the trip. We were able to celebrate my parents' 53rd wedding anniversary with them. They are both in good health, but at a little past 80 years old I don't know how long that will hold true. When I say good-bye to them I wonder about the circumstances of seeing them next. I know the year ahead will be busy, so I'm grateful for the time together this small trip gave us. We accomplished our various family traditions (sandcastles and wave jumping, lunch at the Maine Diner, a breakfast of fresh pastries on the rocky beach near the Marginal Way) and added some new activities (a beautiful hike to the top of Mount Agamenticus; a dusk cruise along the southern Maine shore, where I shot the picture I've used to illustrate this post with nothing more than my iPhone, and with no enhancement to the image).
So, I'm back, refreshed but not exactly eager for the changing of the season. Nonetheless, here it comes.
Living on the Maine coast myself, I can attest that this place is absolutely incredible. The new semester abruptly reminds me, however, of the looming winter. And in this non-New Englander this reminder always produces anxiety.
The sun so low in the sky is what would get to me Cord -- even though I love winter. Someghing about those short days and weak sunlight would even as a child make me feel too mortal....
*Too* mortal--I like that. For me, it's the loss of color. Some days, when the sun is just right and the snow sparkles, I admit it's actually brilliantly colorful. It's the days when the snow reflects only a very pale gray that get to me. It's as if the earth seeks to dull the sharper edges of my soul.
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