Winter in a Summer Town

Winter’s isolation is nothing new to me, but this winter has been one for the books. 

Weeks of bitter cold and endless snow have made it difficult to see the reasons one would stay here at this time of year. Until today’s warmth and sunlight, that is. A short walk around town took care of all that nonsense and brought me to my senses.

I’m a great fan of the musical, Grey Gardens. Little Edie’s musical soliloquy “Another Winter in a Summer Town” has always put me in mind of my childhood, when winter seemed eternal and my loneliness was tortured by the kind of drama only a teenage psyche can orchestrate. This winter’s isolation has fostered neither Edie’s frustrated longing nor my teenage angst. It’s given birth to a sort of stoic resignation–a slow grind—tempered by moments of appreciation and the occasional surprise, like the fox that carved a den out of snow on my neighbor’s deck during the height of last night’s storm, or the hawk that has just landed on a nearby rooftop.

The weather has forced a retreat from the day-to-day into another world, a place of subtlety, where gifts appear when least expected.  The HomePort Journals chronicles this same turning inward in the depths of winter, as Dan Nugent tries to overcome thoughts continually diverted by memory and the plight of those around him. Snowbound for weeks, I’ve come to understand more of Dan’s experience, even though the book will be released in less than a month. Go figure.

In P’Town, even a winter such as this provides a time to recharge, reassess, and consider your course, but it also presents opportunities for demons to rear their heads. Living here in winter is a delicate balance between introspection and depression. You think twice about the second cocktail before dinner or the day-long movie marathon while the house remains a mess, at least I do. I’ve learned it’s important keep in mind these circumstances don’t really last all that long. It may seem you have all the time in the world to devolve into depression and despair, but in reality, there are only a few short weeks before preparations for summer and returning friends bring the town back to life.  Even as you slog through slush and shovel the same path every day, the momentum will soon begin to build. I keep telling myself this, and it seems to be working.

When the sun appeared today (for the first time in an age,) I walked my ten-week-old pup to the West End Boat Ramp. She valiantly climbed a barnacle-encrusted rock and stared down the beach in fascination as if she saw herself racing across the flats in the summer sun. She certainly saw something I did not. And then, somehow I could. Slowly, the first anticipation of summer… the first spark arrived. I saw all the reasons to be here all the time. In a strange way, this moment where all possibilities lay ahead of us in their full potential made everything about this hellish winter worth it.


Click here for some photographs of Provincetown in winter and Dori, a super-cute puppy.


A. C. Burch
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