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Article Published February 13, 2020

Ray of Hope

By Juliana Gribbins/

My phone buzzes as I’m on the couch with a scary novel clutched in my hands. I jump a little at the sound. My heavy quilt falls to the floor as I reach for the phone. While I’m thinking that a couch session with a blanket and a book is the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon, the text I receive stops me short, mentally. It’s from Island Girl. She’s sent a photo from her new home. I pull up a beach pic bright with sun and sparkly water. I turn my eyes to the nearest window and see that in my vicinity an icy rain is coming down. The sun has retreated like a vampire to its coffin and a harsh wind is jostling bare branches.

Ah, winter on the New England shoreline.

I’m not the biggest fan of this season. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m a summer person. Still, I try to make the best of what I’ve got at the moment and right now that means books, blankets, and comfort food.

I look at the beach pic again and involuntarily shiver. It’s usually nice and warm in my apartment, but when it gets unreasonably cold outside, nothing can fight the draft. So there I am sitting in the chill with a blanket on my lap like Uncle from my childhood.

Uncle was a man who lived in a friend’s attic. It sounds like the horror novel I’ve been reading, but it’s true. Uncle wasn’t scary, though. He was just perpetually cold. And old. I don’t know how old he actually was, but to me he seemed Methuselah old. Yoda old. His mobility wasn’t the greatest, so he spent all of his time in the attic. Maybe I’m wrong, but I never saw him anywhere else. My friend and I would bring him a soup lunch and he’d be sitting with a crochet quilt in place even in the middle of August.

As a small child who was afraid of everything, I was terrified of Uncle. He’d smile at us and I’d start to shake. He’d say thank you for the soup with a wet sandpaper voice and hold out bony hands. Now I feel silly for being so scared. Uncle wasn’t going to leap out of his chair, lap blanket plunging to the ground, to chomp into my jugular or anything. He just wanted to eat his soup and stay warm. That’s all I want to do when I’m cold, too.

My apartment is rather like Uncle’s attic abode. There’s a comfy spot that I settle into as I wrap myself in snuggly throws. I look again at my friend’s text. I write her that I’m both thrilled with and jealous of her beach pic. Then I set my horror novel aside and heat up some soup.

Later I decide I don’t want to be like Uncle, tucked away from the world. I take a walk and although that breaks up the mental cobwebs, when I return I don’t feel too much better. In fact, I feel the same, only colder. More hot soup? Maybe some chili?

The next day I receive a text of a different sort. Therein lies an all-important ray of hope. Reservations are confirmed for a long Block Island weekend with friends. It’s official. I’m going. The place we’ve rented has a deck, perfect for outside barbeques. It’s close to the beach, perfect for sunning and swimming. There’s even air conditioning in case we get too hot. Imagine that. We might get too hot. Right now, I can’t even grasp the thought.

So, as winter really gets into gear with icy snow and abusive winds, you’ll find me sipping hot soup like old Uncle. But in the back of my mind I’ll know that a Block Island vacation is ahead. Unlike Uncle, come summer I’ll toss my lap blanket aside and take to the sand. That’s the thought that will get me through the cold months ahead. The best cure for my winter blues is thinking of summer blue sky.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at