He stands at the water’s edge. Small stones tumble from his hands in arrhythmic patterns, catching slender shards of late afternoon sunlight – absorbing and treasuring that single breath of prized warmth and glow – before surrendering to the inevitability of water, salt, and the slow brush of tide across stony shore. The water is cold. Stunningly cold, really, even for this last week of August. Summertime along the northern edge of the Maine coast is a blessing of blindingly clear blue skies and thick morning fogs, cricketsong and exposed granite. The air grows warm and full in time with the ripening of wild blueberries among the brambles, but the waters never relinquish the heritage of the many hard months that ring these bright moments like halos of dark light. This is where we were engaged, atop one of the island’s mountains. This is where we came to be married, at the edge of a harbor, in the aftermath of a hurricane. And this is where we’ve returned, five years later, with our son.
The water is ankle-deep; a thin course of bracing swirls cascading over chubby toes and around chubby ankles. He appears none the worse for wear — his smile broad, his fine hair whipping free and wild with the breeze, tiny black sandals protecting the tender soles of his feet from the hidden edges of this new and unfamiliar world. Behind him, boats bob gently in the harbor, standing guard between his joy and the open sea.