By Larry Schrader
News, Views and Comments from a South Bass Cottager…
Here I sit, gazing out the window from our mainland home. It has been a month since I left the cottage, locked, cold, alone, waiting for the next season; my trusted Summer friend, wondering, like me, what the new year will bring.
Usually, December is quickly consumed with Holiday plans; festive lunches and dinners with friends and family; Happy Hours with frosty Christmas Ales; trips to the store like that one from Save A Lot franchise for gifts, groceries and goodies for the Holiday table; and always time for the precious grandchildren.
But sorry, not this year. No. Nothing. We wait, cautious, afraid. Afraid for ourselves; in fear of what we might bring; unsure of what we might carry back home. We are buoyed by hope for a safe and accessible vaccine; sobered by the daily news, reporting new hot-spots, growing victims of the pandemic, over-crowded hospitals, the daily death count.
We seem to have grown accustomed to face-masks, social distancing, Zoom meetings, conference calls, FaceTime, and drive-by “celebrations”. But in the end, nothing feels right. I want normal. My mind plays a constant tug-of-war – at once, on guard, safe secluded; on the other side, wondering what I’m missing, time that can never be recovered, moments, lost forever.
In past Decembers, I’ve often written about the spirit of Christmas, the real Santa Clause, the hope, the joy, for all who open their hearts. It is harder this year, more difficult to find the magic. I see the colorful lights, hear the carols, I want to believe, I want to embrace the optimism, hope, the celebration. But like our tiny cottage, alone, waiting on that cold shoreline, I wait as well. We watch the icy Winter move in, confident that better times will return, that Spring will arrive with an end to this endless uncertainty. But this year, now, the wait seems longer, colder, the darkness darker, the unknown, the fears, impossible to ignore.
We have been lucky; cautiously avoiding the pain and suffering that so many others have endured. Our pantry is stocked, we’re comfortable, warm, seemingly safe. So, I guess I should be thankful, thankful for what we have, for what is left. But still, I ….
I plop down on the couch, confused, disgusted … looking out the window to the West, the late afternoon sun peeks through the cracks in the dark, gray clouds hanging over the horizon. A passing squall drifts in over the trees, snowflakes float gracefully, no wind to alter their course, they collect quickly on the branches, the lawn, and the grassy field beyond – they seem to sparkle, reflecting the light of the now-setting sun.
I walk into the kitchen to check on dinner, the whole room reflects the twilight glow; steam swirls over the stove; a bottle of wine waits patiently on the counter. The Christmas lights I strung on the shed out in the backyard twinkle as the snow continues to fall. It can’t help but to be reminded of Christmas: The traditional calamari with Emma; a few games of basement-floor-hockey with Owen, a few bruises; wrestling Oysters open with Nolan; and countless hours with Bennett, building a giant Lego tower, always reaching high to add just one more block, then beginning again as it tumbles to the floor.
It is dark now. Looking out over the fresh snow, I feel the cold through the window. Above, a single, bright star shimmers in the now-clear sky. I am reminded that life has never been perfect, but I have most certainly been blessed, that there is so much for which to be thankful. Like that little cottage on the rocky shore of South Bass, we will endure the cold, the darkness, the storms and high water, the fright and unknown; and meet again in Spring, bathed in the warmth of the setting Sun, optimistic, excited, forever grateful for the new season upon us, a new beginning.
The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please click here.
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