It is going to dive down toward negative territory tonight in the Litchfield Hills. I remember cold like that on a Christmas morning when it got so bad we seriously thought about bringing my sister's pony up from the empty barn and into the back wood room of our house. 32 degrees below zero is downright unfriendly weather and one tends to have uncharitable thoughts about the season.
Back in 1990 I spent New Years week on Monhegan Island out in the Gulf of Maine, and got to see that familiar island in winter. The little summer cottages on Dead Man's Cove were dark and empty, and the rising tide sucked the snow from the rocky shore. We stayed in a heated apartment and pitched in with the Islanders as they prepared for Trap Day, the traditional launch of Monhegan's lobster season, now established by law but then enforced by custom. I rode out that morning with Doug Boynton and my friend Chris Koerber who was Dougie's stern-man and the swells and the stench of the bait were beyond description and I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
Monhegan still had deer back then, before they got too numerous and were removed to protect the island ecology. The parasitic dwarf mistletoe infestation was starting to spread in the spruce forest but had not yet had the impact that it would in the coming decade. I skated with my Mom on the Ice Pond which I had never seen in its frozen form before. As always in winter, the human population shrinks to a few dozen year-rounders and a handful of others like ourselves with warm homes to return to elsewhere.
When the sun came out, the low angle light on the long grass of the cemetery was breathtaking with the whitecaps and blue water beyond. I loved the days that were leached of color, all gray skies and steely water and white frosting on the dark shore. To endure a winter out here takes more than most would hazard, but to sojourn for a time was to see with fresh eyes. I will try to see with them again on this cold winter night in Connecticut when the marrow in my very bones wants to curse the cold and dark.