It’s a wild weather day here on the Weekapaug coast. The northeast wind is whistling down the pond, driving sheets of heavy rain against the windows and doors. Yesterday it was 27-degrees and overcast, though quite still. Tiny snowflakes drifted by, from time to time, and had the temperature held below freezing they would have increased one thousand fold today with the storm and we would be in the midst of a blizzard. As is so often the case, however, the shoreline is on the liquid side of the rain/snow line.
Meanwhile it’s a lovely day to be inside. Upstairs in the Searoom, a small group is holding a business meeting; below, in the dining room, a group of ladies are having a book club meeting and lunch by the fireplace. One end of their table feels the warmth of the fire, while those at the other end have an unobstructed window view – rain running down the pane, tall dry grasses bending to the gale and whitecaps marching down the bay. If I were they, I would be in no hurry to leave today. The fire and the holiday decorations make the Inn a warm and cozy place on a nasty afternoon such as this.
On the way in earlier, I pulled into a driveway along the beach to have a look out to sea. Wintertime northeast storms will often hollow the beach out and such was the case today. Waves were running up to the dunes, and the broad sandy expanse that bathers enjoyed all summer was mostly awash.. and the tide wasn’t even high! The north-northeast angle of the wind was holding the crushing waves off shore, but at the same time it ripped the curl off wave tops and flung the spray seaward – frothy white foam against the green of a winter sea. Such is the winter beach. Come spring the weather patterns will shift and sand will be pushed back ashore making abundant room for beach towels and chairs.
For some reason, stormy late fall days like today often bring gannets close to shore. Gannets are large birds of the open sea (the largest sea bird in the north Atlantic) and are closely related to boobies. They soar on long black-tipped wings and follow schools of herring. When shoaling schools come close to the surface, the big birds fold their wings and drop like bolts from the sky, plunging headfirst into the water and throwing up a 6-foot plume in the process. Standing atop the seawall I watched a hard-working flock pounding the waves not far offshore.
Gannets weren’t the only ones hard at work on the waves. Around the corner, in the more sheltered cove under the overlook, two surfers were suited up and making the most of the big ocean swell. They were fun to watch, and appeared to be having a fine time, but for most of us the Inn is just the place to be on such a stormy Rhode Island day. A cup of coffee, a bowl of chowda, and a crackling fire by which to warm your bones.