To the Point
5 p.m. at Sachuest Point is when the trails empty and the wildlife emerges. I have followed the road that hugs the beach, and just when it seems like I’ve gone too far, the dunes break to reveal an endless ocean. The sanctuary sits on the strip of land ahead, where its welcome center glows like a castle on the hill, engulfed in sea mist. Cars flick on their headlights and crawl out of the parking lot as I approach the trailhead. It is the time of day when the weight of my dreams overwhelms me, and so I walk, sidestepping mud along the thicketed path, hoping inspiration resides at the edge of the earth.
Before, I had never thought of Rhode Island. Does anyone think of Rhode Island? And yet, here it has appeared, like my own Room of Requirement, a quiet little respite where I can trust myself for the first time in months. Where the waves crash loudly enough into the rocky shoreline to drown the voices in my head. The ones that tell me I was foolish to leave my job, to follow my heart, to put myself first…
Gravel crunches under my feet and I try to step softly so I don’t spook the rabbits nibbling grass in the brush, or the bright red cardinal perched on a nearby branch. The mystical corners of the internet say that the deer symbolizes one’s intuition. Fitting, then, that once I stop to notice one, the whole herd suddenly appears. Their brown coats blend in with the tall marsh grasses, but they have been there all along. Sometimes, I encounter one at the very edge of the path, close enough to touch, trusting enough to coexist.
Icy wind whips off the waves and burrows deep into my bones. It is harsh and unforgiving and it is a reminder: if I can fight through this discomfort stinging my eyes and stealing my breath, I will be rewarded.
An hour into the trail loop, the hedges thin, signaling that the point is close. I tramp through the bramble along the narrow path down the cliff face to stand on the highest rock. It is big and flat like an oyster shell, and it balances atop two others – hovering almost – beckoning wanderers to claim it. It is the bow of a ship overlooking the faint coastline and the miles of gray-green ocean beyond. Below, the waves churn and bubble and spit, a cauldron fomenting possibilities. Above, sunset blushes pale pink against the clouded winter sky, suggesting something beautiful awaits just beyond the horizon.
Thirty years ago, this small stretch of coast was a landfill, the dumping ground for the town’s waste. Now, sparrows flit across the path, hawks float on the breeze, and white-tailed deer graze unafraid in the open fields. Even in winter, it is bursting with life and full of promise – nature’s evidence that we can always change our minds. We can always become something better.