The other night a friend from New York city called to see how I was doing. About a year and a half ago, my wife and I and our two small children moved from New York to the Island. It had been a tough transition for me. At a party last winter I spoke to a woman about my difficulties. She nodded gravely, then said almost off-handedly, “I know how you feel. It took me 15 years to settle in.” She walked off to get another drink. I headed to the bathroom and wept.

“So how’s it going this winter?” my friend asked. “What did you do this week?”

“Well, yesterday I tied a rope around my waist,” I said.

“I don’t like where this is going,” my friend interrupted.

“Hold on,” I said. “I tied the other end to one of those circular plastic sleds. Then I hauled Hardy, my five-year-old son, a couple of loops around the one-mile dirt road in front of our house. It’s been a cold winter and the road is real icy. I got him going pretty fast.”

“So you’re training for the Iditarod. But for one of the dog positions?”

“It was fun,” I countered. “Plus, it beats going to a gym.”

“Okay,” my friend said, not sounding convinced. “What else have you been up to?”

“The other day our new friends, Brenda and Chuck, came over,” I said.

“A little wine and cheese thing,” my friend said.

“Chuck brought a chain saw.”

“Yeah, that cave-aged Gruyère can be a little tough.”

“No,” I said. “We had a dead tree in the front yard and Chuck came over to help cut it down. After he was through he created a little chair for Hardy to sit on. Carved it right out of the stump with his chain saw. You should see this thing. It even has a back and footrest.”

My friend didn’t seem to share in my excitement over the tree chair, and so after a few more minutes we said goodbye. Later, after the kids had finally fallen asleep, I looked out the window. It was very dark outside. No moon or stars to light up the yard. But I knew the tree chair was out there. I put on my jacket and gloves and walked out into the night. My footsteps crunched on the cold ground as I made my way to the tree line.

The tree chair was surprisingly comfortable. I leaned back and looked at our house. A few lights still glowed from within and tendrils of smoke floated up and out of the chimney. The night sky remained hidden to me, no forecast of the future beaming down from far away galaxies. But as I continued to sit outside, I felt something shift in me. I was sure of it.

Bill Eville lives in West Tisbury.