||Flotsam and Jetsam:
Thoughts on the March Wind
By Kathleen Murphy
Odd lines of three roof peaks edged by waning light lure my gaze as I walk against winter's late winds. The large old house sits on the point overlooking Herring Bay. Alone it rests in this end-of-winter blast, presenting peaks of different pitch, each with individual shape. My structured mind, so attuned to patterns and parallels, is jostled, whipped by a wind of design. This solitary house with asymmetrical lines contrasts against the darkening day.
The simple geometry of rooftops prompts questions of community past. All about me sit homes with history in Southern Anne Arundel County-time. Cottages nestled along a shoreline in their varying shapes and sizes, in changeable states of repair and disrepair, speak to me in visuals of their beginnings, their additions and, for some, their ends. Recently remodeled homes - with sizes and shapes displaying renewal or replacement - sit as newcomers among the old. An incredible quiet cloaks my isolated thoughts.
Quite suddenly, a sharp gust returns my attention to the Bay. The quick wind chafes cheeks and flaps the ears of my dog. The slapping of water on this rocky shoreline draws my attention to the waves, the ongoing movement of life. I exclaim aloud on the beauty of this moment, this place. Then glancing back toward the house, the unordered-roof-pitch house, I see the sky swiftly filled with sea gulls. Everywhere I look are birds, flying high, strong of wing, undeterred by wind. They appear in huge flocks, hundreds at a time, steady to their course.
I watch in awe as they make their journey from west to east. There is little noise save the hurried flap of their long wings. As far as I glimpse in each direction, these seafarers soar. They mix with the gray of the sky in shaded patches. Soon I am unsure of what I can see and do not. Spots remain in my gaze long after they should have disappeared as aquatic birds blend into a muted horizon. Still they fly above, in larger flocks: There seems no end. In a half-hearted attempt to find number, I lose track in the hundreds, laughing at the insignificance of my endeavor.
The quiet is eerie. A settling sun colors the sky. To the southwest, the pink and lavender of winter with clouds strung like cotton, pastel-lined, arranged by wind. To the northeast, over the Bay, dusk sky has gone from azure to gray. The gulls wing on, playing upon the limits of my knowing as I wonder what brings them, where do they go, where will they settle tomorrow, what natural tug takes them on this journey?
A chill catches me as the dog stirs at my feet. Giving her collar a shake, she pokes a wet muzzle into my mittened hand; she is cold, asking to go home. As darkness approaches, we make our way. The wayfaring gulls are gone from my sight, creating happily in my mind's eye a vision of their settling in some quiet nook on this stormy evening. I wish them well against these March winds. May I, too, ever continue to wonder. May I always find time to see. There is much here to behold, many fragments within easy view.
Kathleen Murphy reflects from Southern Anne Arundel County, where she has lived for 16 years. This is her second reflection in Bay Weekly.