On the North Sea, the River Esk through it, enwreathed in the North York Moors, Whitby be, shivery and twee. It is the world capital of my sehnsucht, being now too summer-laden for anything but fantasies of cold cloudy coasts, broodier the better. Ah, I could write my Walden in Whitby (or rather, Thoreau’s darker sequel, Cape Cod). Give me Greenfingers, the old fisherman’s cottage, or any of those Whitby beach huts (blue preferred) with a window on the shanty-mothering sea, a briny lookout for Tom Bowling.
Cure my heat, cold whipping Whitby winds, for the love of jolly Britannia and her trident (and her chippies). I long ago fled the Mojave Desert for northern latitudes, for the Northwest, for the chill, pine, raincloud, but lo and ho, the whole West is seasonally feverish, if not charred. Gone to cinders. Godawful for this chionophile-in-spirit. I need Whitby’s cold compress. A tonic bowl of seaspray and fog.
Inverness, the Inner Hebrides, Edinburgh, Orkney, etc., I’ve searched these for my lake isle of Innisfree, with those “low sounds by the shore,” and all are beloved, but Whitby—Whitby!—I anchor in Whitby. I endeavor, with Captain Chill, to write of seashells by the seashore: books of seashell philosophy, books barnacled and cold to the touch, books on how I, knowing enough of heat, say that ice is great and will suffice.