by Ari Snider
You are summer to my winter heart.
-- Gemma Troy
Time in Town
It’s been a while since we’ve sailed into a town from out there. Could be we’re a little ‘bushy’.
We sailed into Tenakee Springs - our home port - in mid-December after three years sailing the wide waters between the communities of SE Alaska. Or not sailing, but hunkered down in the early pandemic. Or not hunkered but building a micro-cruiser. Or none of the above, but just enjoying the shelter and bounty of a beloved estuary.
This is an ever more distinct pattern for us… ever longer stretches out punctuated by a relatively short while in.
Town time is time to reconnect with friends we may not have seen for a decade or more. Most folks are pretty local. If we don’t see them in their town, we mostly don’t see them. While we’re out and about, they and their communities interact and continue forward together.
Our view is something like a series of snap-shots… string ‘em together and it can be a rather jerky, (non)stop-action story of entropy and renewal.
Children leap into adulthood; many moved away. Some have newish children for us to meet; from babes-in-arms to fully formed little individuals with strong opinions of their own. Young adults are now pillars of community. The middle aged are gone gray. Elders become old or have crossed the bar.
It’s a like a chronic case of Rip Van Winkle syndrome, who slept a hundred years and woke to an unfamiliar world, but in smaller bites.
Our town has grown smaller. It’s winter population is down to about 50 souls (a third from when we first arrived, a quarter century back). The handful who share the chores of community are that much more attenuated. The vacation homes of those who live elsewhere are shuttered and dark, affording no entry for the new blood of young immigrants.
We pitch in as we can.
In the coming decades the trend will reverse, and our range will contract. This inlet and town will slowly become our extent, with fewer forays into the wider world. We’ll localize. A process we accept as natural, and hope to keep joyous.
This winter’s time in this town is for the pleasure of friends, old and new. To knit our various lives a stitch closer. A time for music and good cheer among more than ourselves. A chance for re-supply. For maintenance. For communication. For rest.
An investment in both our present and our future.