The winter solstice feels pure and eternal. The beach is so quiet, not another soul around. No voices, just the sound of the waves, the wind in the reeds. There are buffleheads and mergansers in the pond and off the point, and a lone osprey circles the bay. Is he a juvenile as one birder friend of mine suggests? Was she left behind when the others left on their migration months earlier?
Last week snow blanketed the beach, and a thin film of ice covered the boat basin, cracked and moving with the tide. The ice melts most days, reforming in late afternoon, when the temperature drops. On very cold days a layer of sea smoke forms past the big rock and breakwater. The cold, white mist is mesmerizing, and I watch it move in and out, closer to shore and out toward the middle of the Sound.
There will be a snowy owl, or maybe there won't. But owls are my favorite birds, and snowies are my favorite owls. They inhabit the arctic, and during years when prey is scarce, they fly south and grace these parts with their presence, seeking flat, tundra-like habitat--beaches, fields, airport runways. If you see one, protect its locaton. They are vulnerable, and too many people will disturb them. Owls are the most secret of birds.
The snow has melted for now, but I'm hoping for more.