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The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson

Artwork by JoDee SamuelsonIt was a Thanksgiving to remember: The Blue Jays swept their series against Texas; Hilary Clinton kept her cool in the second presidential debate; and Hurricane Matthew brushed by the Island, baring his teeth and reminding us of the power of nature. On Thanksgiving Day the power went out a couple hours before dinner, but everyone pooled resources, and somehow our relief that the storm wasn’t worse—here at least—made the cranberry sauce more piquant and the wine more potent.

Matthew’s winds knocked down the last of the nuts from our chestnut trees. What a commotion as chestnut cluster bombs hurled themselves to the ground, their sharp spikes impaling unwary creatures below. A butternut tree blew down in the storm. It was a mature forty-year old tree that should be missed, but we are secretly glad to see it gone, for its hundreds of nuts were all talk and no substance. Happily it blew over on top of the woodpile and not on top of the car. Our trusty neighbor Gordon came over with his chainsaw, and now sunlight is pouring into a new corner of the yard.

Now on this calm clear morning it’s business as usual here in the Cove. The tide clock says there are still two hours till high tide, so we head to the shore with heavy plastic fertilizer bags to see if the storm has washed in some seaweed. (We need it for mulching the garlic.) Surprisingly, the beach is bare.

We walk along picking up rocks and shells, then sit on a sandstone ledge watching the water silently inch its way into the Cove. In the shrinking tidal pools, gulls, terns and sandpipers busily snatch up the tiny fish being washed in with the tide. Overhead, a flock of geese heading south noisily bids farewell to the Island for another year. At our feet, mussels and barnacles and periwinkles feed and breathe and grow. Everything is so…normal.

Here at the water’s edge I am in awe of these self-sufficient life forms. Hurricane? Bah. Mussel shells point into the waves, barnacles absolutely can’t be dislodged, and periwinkles love a good shower. If only we humans were so resilient and unconcerned…although what do I know? Maybe every creature has worries we know nothing about.

The water rises and the forked wrack (rockweed) at the base of the capes begins to sway. We move to higher ground where an orange leaf blows past my ear and lands on my shoe. I look up to see colorful sumac bushes leaning over the edge of the cape. It’s autumn, they say. The days are getting shorter. You’re not one of us, you’re a human. Don’t you want to survive? Go home! Rake those chestnuts! Stack that wood!

Okay, okay. I just wanted to take a little time to think about things, but you’re right. There’ll be plenty of time to think about things—once the snow falls.

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