Last week, Chewonki Neck enjoyed a lengthy power outage, as a result of rather a lot of rain. I found the driving rain and strong wind soothing, as they pounded the Neck for a solid day. Tramping out to Hoyt’s Point multiple times that day was well worth the muck and stinging rain. The view was stunning—and not only because the wind was so strong it forced my eyes shut. I am unused to being in such close proximity to the water, and find it fascinating to walk down there whenever I have time so as to appreciate it in as many states as possible. I don’t trust it the way I trust the woods though. Woods and fields are familiar to me. Although I know that I do not know even close to everything about them, I trust trees and shrubs and grasses and vines. I don’t trust the water. Its beauty is not lost on me, but I do not feel at home in or on it, the way I feel comfortable on the land. Water is always changing, moving, altering itself and the life within it. The constant motion makes it difficult to familiarize oneself with it. In the sunlight, it glitters, sparkles concealing its contents like a decorator crab finds things on the ocean floor to conceal its ungainly body. The water makes me uneasy in the sunshine. In stormy weather, I can be comfortable in my mistrust of it. I no longer feel like it’s trying to make me trust it. The grey uneven surface invites me to distrust it, and so I feel entitled to do so. Standing out on Hoyt’s Point, turning my face to the wind, I felt the rain stinging my cheeks as the wind drove it into me. I felt exhilarated and acutely alive. The shore is always beautiful, but I find it most appealing in the storm.
I walked out to Hoyt’s Point again today, to see what it would be like after the constant rain and battering winds that took down the 11 trees that fell on our power lines last night. The forest that I walked through on my way felt muted, as though it were in an exhausted recovery from the violence of yesterday. Stepping through the break in the trees, down over the rocks to stand on the sea grass exposed by low tide, I beheld a view so serene it could have been a still photograph. The water, too, had been changed by yesterday’s weather. It was not serene in its usual fashion, when I feel as though it’s secretly mocking me. Rather, it was still, as though someone had hit a pause button. A few small ripples moved over it. Canadian geese and American black ducks flapped and soared through the living still photo. It was nearly silent, save for the calls of the birds. As photographs go, it was a meditative one.
While I stood there in the sea grass, I was seized with a moment of acute appreciation for my experiences thus far at Chewonki Semester School and for those I know are yet to come. The way I am bonded to the other participants of Semester 44 is different from the way I am bonded to any other classmates I have had. Sharing our lives here, together, knowing that we only have 4 months, has made us open up to each other more quickly than we might under different circumstances. That openness has enabled us to forge friendships of a different sort. Every morning I wake up excited to see what the new day will bring, and every evening I fall asleep feeling as though I accomplished something with my day.
-Deirdre Shea, Litchfield, CT