A few days ago, if you happen to remember these things, it was cold. Hard to say what the weather might be like as you read these words, as we’ve definitely been seeing the boingy-boingy sort of coastal winter where a forty-degree variation is situation-normal. This leads to fun wintertime activities like mud wrestling with large UPS boxes, sophisticated figure-skating as we unload the airplane, and too many cases of the Galloping Mahockus — the only known remedy, I am informed, a medicinal gargle of Sailor Jerry’s. There is rum which is delicious, and there is rum best used to winterize a sink trap in an emergency, and there is rum that is recommended by experts to kill a virus. There you have it; I do not make up the rules.

Ah, we all say, “but when I was a kid, it was never like this.” That is true to some extent but I submit that coastlines always bring uncertainty and irregularity and instability, particularly during the darker months. You may make of that observation what you like.

I am no lover of the January thaw. When you live on dirt roads, winter rain is not your friend. Few things make me argue back at the television set quite like a meteorologist engaging in merry banter with a local anchor about how much nicer it’ll be in a couple of days when the temperature is forecast to get up to, say, oh, 38 degrees.

You can keep 38 degrees. That is a pointless state of nature this early in the year. Inevitable, to be sure, but pointless. It is not a harbinger of spring; it is only a mess.

But back a few days, we greeted the day on this island with a thermometer reading nine degrees — perhaps we were the warm spot of Maine, at that — but nine is almost 10, and the howling, thumping, incessant out-to-sea wind was “letting up some,” so the morning weather seemed to be what you would have to call improving.

That morning was starkly beautiful in the way that I imagine the Great White North, the pristine world at very high latitudes beyond the slovenliness of civilization, twinkling, blissfully still when not absolutely stormy, and making no effort whatsoever toward the comfort of human beings. Look upon it, admire it, live and breathe in that icy world only when ready. Ready means “you better get all rigged up.”

I got all rigged up. It was Saturday, and every Saturday a couple of us open up the recycling facility so people can bring their beer bottles and cardboard boxes and random junk, or go home with different cardboard boxes or random junk. We open at 10 a.m. and because islanders are that sort of folks, for much of the regular clientele that means ten-minutes-of. Matinicus recycling claims to be open every Saturday “except in very bad weather,” but the weather is hardly ever bad enough. I sometimes suppose, if it’s really bad, nobody will show up. Going outdoors into the weather is a point of pride around here, though, at least among those few of us addled enough to brag about staying year-round.

Nobody, in fact, did show up, except for that most reliable of wintertime stalwarts, our postmaster, who wouldn’t be deterred if it were forty below. I do believe she’d prefer things that way. She is, all winter, the other Saturday recycling volunteer, and she delights in the cold weather. She is also the ringleader, team captain, and exemplar for we who do not get so all-fired sentimental about the return of summertime. In the summertime it is never quiet. In the summer, people are behind every bush and boulder, and people need things, and want to chat about insurmountable obstacles, and fret about church suppers and freight rates and kids on four-wheelers. “I just wanted to get outdoors,” my cold-hardy friend laughed, as we stood in the road for half an hour and had a little visit, a couple of “Michelin men,” or women, in adequate cold-weather gear, hand-knitted mittens of the inch-thick variety and no doubt homemade socks, Rocky the Flying Squirrel hat, and a happy appreciation for how few are the people in the neighborhood. The wind was subsiding, and we noticed. Truly, I wouldn’t have Florida for anything on these arctic days. In the mud, on the ice, in the murk of 38 degrees, when sleet rattles the windows and the damp cold makes your knees ache, then, I suppose, the equator has its appeal.

I’ll speak up for those bright mornings when you can count the degrees on your fingers. On that rarest of offshore days when the wind stands down, we can practically taste the quiet, and that is a treat, indeed.