It says a lot about these past few months that I have not posted here since the end of July. We have been in the most lovely blur of beach and sunsets, osprey and seals, egrets and swallow murmuration, even as the pandemic continues on relentlessly and our beautiful country grows ever more divisive and frightening. On August 1, we decamped to my favorite sleepy beach town in Massachusetts where I rented houses for several summers when my kids were younger. They have such fond memories of those summers here, many of them centered around the local ice cream stand. As each of my teaching and speaking commitments got cancelled, the idea of a month at the beach became more and more obvious. That month has turned in to three, as we could not leave this sliver of happiness by the sea. Happily, Michael fell in love with the town as hard as I did all those years ago, and our days--with Sam and Annabelle--melted one into the next, full of good food (local corn and tomatoes and pole beans, now new potatoes and broccoli and Brussels sprouts), evening cocktails (here's a link to one of Michael's Friday Cocktail Hours, but watch them all! https://ruhlman.com/2020/08/14/friday-cocktail-hour-the-mai-tai/), bocce games on the lawn (with stray balls falling into the river and Sam having to find them), games of Code Names and Hearts and Pitch and the Name Game on the screened in porch, reading on the aforementioned porch or in the hammock (my top recommendations: HAMNET, THREE HOURS, SHUGGIE BAIN), long walks to the beach, cocktails and picnics on the beach, reading on the beach (you get the idea--we spent a lot of time on the beach), late nights sipping whiskey and talking. And writing, writing, writing.
Sam and Katherine went back to Brooklyn in mid-September, but we have stayed on, happily watching summer fade into autumn. How the light on the ocean changes with the seasons! The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, we need sweaters now when we sit on the deck for our evening cocktails and Cribbage. The truth is, we don't want to leave. But Annabelle's school has started up in person half time (much to my consternation) and Providence beckons. So we are treasuring these last days here--today a walk to the beach with our books in hand. Tomorrow apple picking again. Our dinners of burgers or hot dogs on the grill have become pot roast and baked pasta. The sweaters I knit all summer are coming in handy.
We will return to Providence, and with colder weather and the coronavirus, retreat inside again. I fear for our country and our democracy; I fear for our planet; I fear for all of our health in the coming months. As I know many of you do. But these magical days we've had here will help get us through the coming ones. Remember your own magical times and hold them tight. Keep knitting and reading and loving. Hold your family and friends close, even if only figuratively for the time being. Stay hopeful. That's what listening to the geese fly south, watching swallows swoop overhead, breathing salt air and feeling the waves break on your ankles remind us to do. Stay hopeful.