What I have will do

I have never lived by the sea. I have loved it, always. I’ve imagined myself living near it for most of my life. I’ve found places where, if there is such a thing as multiple timelines, I am sure there’s another version of me, living in a cottage by the sea. I’ve found several likely candidates.

There was the white gingerbread cottage on a small Caribbean island with a view through tropical plants to the sparkling, impossibly blue ocean. There’s a yellow Victorian house with a sea view in a town full of much grander places in Rhode Island, and a Tudor mansion a few miles down the road with its own private beach. There’s a faded Victorian house overlooking the stormy Atlantic in Massachusetts. And there’s a dark, stone cottage on a bluff above the Scottish town where the film Local Hero was shot. Its view of the North Sea is unforgettable. In my mind, I’ve lived in them all.

But I live in the Catskills, hours away from the ocean. And I suspect it’s where I’ll be staying.


This year, I found a way to satisfy that long-imagined desire.

It’s windy here. A day without a breeze is a rare thing, and a day of gusting winds is not unusual. I’ve remarked more than once that it feels like living by the ocean.

We have a large meadow beside our house. For the first two summers here, I mowed it, as the people before us did. But this year I decided to let it grow. I wanted to create a friendlier habitat for birds, for wildlife. I cut wide paths through it, and let the grasses and wildflowers take over the rest. I got an unexpected reward.

Those grasses bend and ripple with each breeze, creating a constant motion that I recognize. During storms, I can sit by a large window on the second floor and watching the wind blow through a turbulent ocean of grass. They’re waves.

I may not have the bracing scent of the sea, but I’ve got my ocean of grass. It’ll do.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.