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Up For Air

True winter temps (below freezing, but not below 0º) coincided with a lingering respiratory infection over the past week. Thankfully, both seem to have subsided for now, making me feel as if my head has breached the surface of a very deep pond. I can breathe again, and I have the energy to attack things that I haven’t gotten to in several days.

Today that means a series of phone calls I have been putting off for too long; pursuing car repairs, medication, and a misplaced peacoat at the dry cleaner’s. The medication call takes a half an hour, while I start to make my request, they take my details, and then I get transferred to the “correct department” where I repeat my information EVERY SINGLE MONTH. No one can give me a direct line so I can save time and not have to repeat myself. For this foolishness, I am charged $250 a month for the generic version of my medication. No wonder I put it off for as long as possible.

I would like to see some study done of the toll on patients of having to deal with insurance companies, and its effect on patient outcomes. It has to be significant.

Both boys are back at school, so my days are once again full of driving. T is scheduled to get his license next month, so some of this may fall to him once he’s legal. We’ve discovered that the car he takes he test in must have a hand brake accessible from the passenger seat. Neither of our cars do, which means we’ll be renting a car for this purpose. More money out the window.

As I write this, there is a pack of coyotes howling and yipping nearby. It is their mating season and they are out early, the sun having set not long ago. The proceedings have all the feel of a Beltane fire, and it would not surprise me to look out the window to see canine figures dancing against flames in the woods.

Coyote: Photo by Alan Emery on Unsplash

The coyotes are frequent enough visitors to the area that the dog doesn’t bother barking back at them anymore when he is in the house. His body language is alert, but he only listens now. If he sees them, it’s a different story. He encountered one a week or so ago in broad daylight. Both creatures stood their ground several yards away from each other, the dog barking in warning (to us, or the coyote? Hard to tell). I couldn’t see the coyote, but I knew something was up when the dog refused to be distracted by the shaking of the snack bag. I sent my son out with the leash. He secured the dog and chased the coyote away.

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Sere

One of the nicer things about the cooler weather is that it gets me in the mood to cook. There’s currently a chicken and barley soup simmering on the stove. It started with a roast chicken over the weekend, from which I also made chicken broth, pot pie, and this soup.

Very high tide in the marsh behind Long Beach.

There is a half-bushel bag of apples on the counter waiting to be made into apple pies and applesauce to go with the pork roast I am planning for next weekend.

I’m still trying to see as much of the sun as possible. The light is currently filtered through the yellows and reds of the autumn leaves; those still on the trees and those spilled on the ground. It gives the deceptive impression of warmth, but requires a sweater to enjoy. A passing deer blends into the landscape and can barely be seen save for the waving of his white tail. The dog, barking for blood, alerts us to her presence. The deer looks toward the noise, but remains unbothered.

It rained and stormed this week and the wind was quite serious. For all the downed limbs and local power outages, I’m surprised there aren’t fewer bare branches. We’re into November now and with so few evergreens in the yard, it will be quite bleak by the end of the month.

My days are divided between chauffeuring the boys to their various schools, jobs, and friends and trying to write. When I can, I travel via the beach roads on the southern side of the island where the marshes meet the pavement, and there’s a good chance to spot wildlife from the car. In the summer there are often stark, white egrets or an occasional heron fishing among the grasses. In the winters you are more likely to see hawks perched on bare limbs closer to the road. This area is a winter harbor for many birds. There have been snowy owl sightings; sadly, never by me.

Even in the tight grip of winter, the marsh is a place I love. More than the sandy beach or the rocky point, it reminds me of the hardy New Englander that I always imagined myself to be. In the warmer months, it sings with the constant song of frogs, insects, and the chippering of red winged blackbirds. Colder months bring forbidding wind and frozen pools among the waving brown grasses. There is a lonely romanticism to it, as if you might expect to see the figure of a man in a pea coat and bog boots tramping through with his collar turned up and a spaniel at his side. The word that comes to mind as I pass through is “sere.” I looked it up the other day and was surprised to find that it was not a color, but a state of wither. Maybe it’s not an accident that the old Aerosmith tune begins with the sound of the winds.

Placid ducks unfazed by the wind