To the Lighthouse

words by Catherine Ritchie

to the lighthouse

“So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea.” 

― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


Years ago, when I was a young teenager, I traveled to southern Maine for my grandfather’s eightieth birthday; it was the first time I caught sight of the sea in November. 

As someone whose ocean experience had, until then, been limited to the months of June, July and August, the November coast in New England took my breath away (both literally and figuratively).  The air was sharp and the wind strong. But as I made my way down to the water, I was overwhelmed by how utterly enchanting the winter beach can be. The waves still crest and foam, but the sun sparkles off the sand in a sudden new way. 

Some may imagine that the beach is nothing more than a sunny expanse of silver white sand. Yet for those who are native to winters on the coast, the ocean deserves a more wild profile: seaweed tangled between stones at high tide, sea glass found buried in caves during low tide. As winter approaches, walks along the shore will be more brisk, and we may need to layer our knitwear, donning hats and gloves for the trek. 

But it’s worth bundling up to see the seaside in this new light. The bright beauty of browned dune grass and cold cliffs reveals to us landscape far different from the warm walks of summer. 

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poemKaren CoveyComment