A baby boomer sees the world around her changing

As one of the oldest generations alive today, some say we’re too old to learn, too old to find new ways to live our lives. Well, don’t let them talk to baby boomer Erin O’Brien of Warwick, Rhode Island, who just last year moved from her lifelong home in Southern California to her husband’s native territory in New England. She watched the Northeast’s recent “bomb cyclone” storm with a new set of eyes.

Together, each window pane makes up a gallery of black and white winter images. In one, snowdrifts climb up the side of the house like suspended ocean waves. In the next, empty brittle branches shake in the wind. Somewhere there is a pond, beyond the foggy curtain of snowfall.

In the days after Christmas, I listen to carols by the Christmas tree as the wind whistles and roars in the background, reminding me I’m not in California any more. Sinatra sings of “frosted window panes” as I look through them, and Johnny Mathis sings the “snow is glistening,” and I realize it really is, just like pieces of glass.

Ahead of the storm, I walked along the bay, fascinated by snow on the sand, unlike any beach I remember in Southern California. A flock of Canada geese in their V-formation swooped down and skidded on the ice as they landed. Camera in hand, I asked my husband to remain at a distance, as I didn’t want to give them a complex with his goose down parka.

More geese occupied a nearby sunny field, resting on the remains of the cornstalks, slowly rising as four deer strode through the middle of the flock. Under the trees, a squirrel leapt over snowy mounds of tree trunks in search of buried acorns in the usual hiding places.

The geese have spent many winters here, beginning each fall flying directly over what is now our house towards the pond, just as their ancestors likely did. If they can weather the storm, so can I. Evidently it’s not cold enough to fly south yet. They wear goose down, after all.


  1. Beautiful writing and visuals, Erin. Felt like I was there, instead of our cabin, where it’s 65 during the day and mid-40’s at night. By R.I. standards, also referred to as a heatwave. Miss you neighbor!

  2. I loved this posting, it reminds me of growing up in the snow. It definitely was an awesome visual to walk through it in your words. You are braver than I, as I am not sure I could survive the cold again as a much older adult than when I was a child. Debra K.

  3. I love your appreciation of nature, and your descriptive writing makes me want to be by your side enjoying it, in spite of the zero degrees. Your photos are not necessary because I can picture it all with your words, but I’m glad you took them because they are beautiful. I feel like I received a double treat with the essay AND the photography. Thank you, Erin!

  4. Beautiful imagery, Erin! The whistling wind was the soundtrack of our 5 years in Montana….made me shudder to remember! Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

  5. Beautifully written, Erin. Your essays always move me, this one especially. Your photos are beautiful. Thanks for transporting me back if only for a minute.

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