This time of year it's too early for seasmoke to appear, but this morning we woke to a steaming ocean, frost flowers on the window panes and clouds rising from the kettle on the woodstove. We are enveloped in clouds - inside and out.
Across the water, the islands of Mt. Desert appear blue and hazy as summer but the intervening water is a shield of white and ice glazes the granite blocks along the causeway. After weeks of mild weather, we are plunged into an arctic world of blowing snow, blue shadows in the horse pasture, chimneys enveloped in cottony vapor and the ankle-twisting skim of frost on doorsteps.
On the buffet in the kitchen are two small paper houses frosted with glitter; painted icicles dangle from their frilled roofs. One sits on a doily of snowflake, the other is enclosed in a paper picket fence. From the outside, our house looks like a paper cutout in such a winter scene; inside, it's tropical with rosemary trees, amaryllis and Christmas cactus.
This will be a pared-down Christmas for many. Separation from loved ones will make ours melancholy, but an enduring image remains: wintry outside, warm inside. Tonight, yellow light, as rich and warm as melted butter, will stream from the windows of each house along our road. Inside we'll nestle and thank our lucky stars. So much to be grateful for, even in times of trouble.