The point is coated in a hard white crust again. I've come to resent the snow, as it covers the seaglass treasures I should be finding on the beach and it mutes my heartbeat down into a distant thump from somewhere far inside.
Lochlan's early, brusque refusal to take me down anyway sent it even deeper inside as he shook the snow off his hair and brushed off the shoulders of his thick fisherman knit sweater. He was outside splitting wood all morning. His hands are rough and fatigued, his arms are aching and he just wants to sit down and have a hot cup of coffee. He hasn't shaved in a couple of weeks and is starting to look like a mountain man. He's putting them all to shame, never stopping or even slowing down. Hardly sleeping sometimes and then catching up all at once. And still with one eye on and one ear out for me as I balance on the icy slopes too close to the cliff or spend too long out in the cold fascinated by the way the snow piles up on the deadened grapevines or the tree swing. I seek shelter in the studio or underneath the big hemlocks sometimes when it's too far to go back to the house for just one minute.
Curious girl, he scolds.
I shrug. When has that ever changed?
Finally he relents and I jump up to run to get my boots, waiting impatiently by the patio doors for him to finish his coffee as slowly as humanly possible and then pull on his big boots again. He never laces them. He grabs our red mittens from the shelf above the coats and tells me not to run ahead (in his mind I've never not been ten years old) and says he's coming.
When we get to the bottom of the steps he laughs and asks what treasures I'm going to find here today. I ignore him and step to the hard white edge of the earth where the solid ground ends and the glorious sea begins.
They're all still here, they just have a blanket today. I bend down and splash water up on the shore. The white crust melts away, revealing shells and two tiny pieces of bright blue glass. See?
Give me your mitts. Jesus, Peanut. He pulls my saltwater soaked mittens from my hands and replaces them with his own. Why do you do these things?
I look at the dark teal frigid Pacific as I answer. I don't know. I can't help it.