The northern gale blew cold, the temperature in the 30’s. Layered up I headed out in the brisk wind, and when turning into the gusty breeze some icy precipitation bounced off my glasses. The Lowcountry was spared the snow accumulation of the upstate, yet the wintry sting attempted to bite through my clothing. I felt wonderfully alive in the conditions, and the thought of sailing crossed my mind.
The bicycle ride proceeded as always to the boat landing, and the view of the conditions out on the water. The mainland provided some wind shadow disguising the stronger winds beyond in the Refuge. On the other side of the Waterway a shoal was covered with shorebirds, and further north a white blotch along the marsh came into focus as white pelicans.The group took flight, and circled south to my location, majestically turning and managing the wind blasts.
After biking home I returned to the landing with my camera, not Kingfisher. In my younger days the cold gale force winds would have been a sailing challenge to meet; I recalled my days of sailing in gale force winds, particularly in a winter northeaster in North Carolina in the ’70’s (see Sailing). But not on this day – I never seriously entertained that thought. Riding the bike and walking around was plenty of exposure.
The group of white pelicans was no longer in the vicinity, but one from the group remained on the bank where the large collection of shorebirds had been. A cormorant swam in the frigid waters, periodically diving for fish. As I was ready to end my venture into the outdoors, I was impressed by the ability of these birds to survive and thrive in these conditions. The thought of going for a sail was merely a passing idea, and I was reminded of a mantra I had repeated many times in my years of working with people with mental illness and addiction – it is OK to have all kinds of thoughts, but you don’t have to act on them.