Suddenly cold, windy, and the beach is wild with change. Low tide has pulled the surf back from the shore, exposing shells and sand dollars. The birds are staying away, out of the wind. Most of the shell pickers have stayed home. I walk north into a hearty blow and I don’t mind. I let my feet get wet because I want to walk at the edge and see what’s washed up. The surfers are out, but the waves aren’t very high. It’s dramatic, exciting, where it’s usually placid, calm. Walking in New England, the weather is so variable, the landscape seasonal and surprising every day with change. Today, I’m happy to see the shoreline altered and the whitecaps foaming and the breakwater breaking the waves into spray. I learn the youngest has had her first graduate school acceptance. The one who struggled to read. The one who had such anxiety she hated going to school. The one who struggled to write a sentence that made sense to someone else. Bless those special educators who care so much. On the way back, heading south, the wind is now pushing me along and I meet a shell picker, though she’s just a visitor, I can tell. Wearing a black raincoat, the hood pulled over her head, she shows me her bag of shells and tells me where, by the breakwater, I can find so many sand dollars this morning, and she gives me one of her nice ones, and I take it. I don’t want to leave the beach today but I must. My feet are as cold as they are on the ice in the woods in wet boots and I have my Wednesday morning writers to meet. At the entrance/exit to the beach I see a toddler, a boy with a bright round face and runny nose holding his father’s hand and covered all up in a jacket and hood. I say, would you like a sand dollar? and he takes it from my hand, and his father says, what do you say, Jimmy? and Jimmy says the word in his language that means thank you, and this is a lovely feeling, paying it forward with a sand dollar.