For about a month and a half leading up to the winter solstice, I start reassuring myself that it isn't long until the days start getting longer again. We try to take our afternoon walk (usually an evening walk) earlier and earlier, but we still end up walking home in the dark. Today, the shortest day of the year, we got out for a paddle just after lunch.
Even in the middle of the day the sun barely seemed to penetrate. The forecast had called for freezing rain and sleet, so we hadn't planned on paddling, but when the storm passed to the north we made a quick choice to head out. It felt good: air temps in the high 30s and not much wind. The weather has been wintery lately, but I've seen a few good paddling days come and go while I stayed inside, writing about paddling. Ironic perhaps, but there are worse things to do with your time. Still, it was too easy to get into the habit of not paddling, and I was itching to get out.
We followed a route we often embark on by tacit agreement, hardly talking about where we might go: head for Steves and take it from there.
We'd had about two feet of snow a few days earlier, but the warmer temperatures were melting it away. It lay thick and moist upon the granite ledges. Clouds hung around the hills on Isle au Haut.
We took a break on the south-facing beach on McGlathery. By then it was three o'clock, the daylight quickly draining away.
We saw plenty of tracks in the snow just above the beach, and when we paddled through the gap between McGlathery and Little McGlathery, a small deer watched us for a moment before bounding away.
Lobster boats motored back from deeper waters offshore, lights on. Soon we were doing the same as a faint pink glow in the west suggested sunset. We made our way around the east side of Russ Island to make the shorter, lower traffic crossing over to Dow Ledge. Our winter walks often take us to Dow Ledge, where, at low tide, we can get about as close to the archipelago as possible without a boat. Today we got as close to Deer Isle as we could without walking.
Lobster boats were still coming back in the dark, and we made our way carefully through the mooring field east of town. Tomorrow, the days start getting longer.