I left work the other day in my sweats and sneakers to discover a friend similarly clad, on her way for her afternoon constitutional. My plan was to walk off a major chunk of the ten thousand steps a day suggested by the heart-healthy class I’m taking, so we joined forces. I tend to switch my route up to forestall boredom, and as I described my planned course, which would end up on a path behind a “private property” sign, she responded, “I’ve never been there.” The property in question is a retreat home for Jesuits overlooking the channel leading out from our harbor. When I get there, I sneak under the chain hanging from two stone pillars marking the entrance to the driveway, and hike the edges of the property far away from the main house, convinced God created this overlook for everyone. This time I enlisted my friend. “Just don’t get me arrested,” she said.
It was hard to believe it was November. By the time we arrived, the afternoon sun highlighted the estate across the water (owned by descendants of the John Quincy Adams, where I no longer dare to trespass although I have, but that’s another story).
Walking with my friend that day, I saw the view from her eyes, new eyes, the kind I had when I started exploring around town five years ago. The sky was wide and clear, the tide low, the flats filled with seagulls and terns pecking in the mud. Across from us, the marsh grass on the barrier beach has whitened to straw. I think of November as dull and drab, but on this day, it was anything but, the muted colors, grey, taupe and rust reminding me that every season has beauty as long as we allow it to seep in.
The harbor is mostly empty now, except for the working fleet, a handful of lobstermen who keep their boats in all year. And as we stood on the steps of an empty stone boathouse, they motored in--a sight I would have missed if sometimes I didn't disobey "No Trespassing" signs.