Tag Archives: Cape Cod

On My Phone Dying During a Sunset

Today I ventured out for a post-Christmas run; my feet felt as if they were filled with the 20 pounds of peanut butter fudge I ate yesterday.

I headed toward the beach and then over the bluff. By the time I reached the harbor, the sun had completely set behind Nobska, but that saturated Cape light still cast its unmatched glow on the boats and water, and bright oranges still blanketed the horizon. I walked out onto the jetty to take a panoramic photo when my phone died.

A COMPLETE DISASTER. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT. OH NO.

But really, it wasn’t. I put my phone away and stood there breathing in the cold air, smelling its salt and feeling the chill in my nose. I turned my head to the right and to the left, taking in from the highest point of Grand Avenue to the harbor entrance then to the inner marina. The colors were rich and deep, from the royally blue water to the gradient sunset. The small, tired waves were my soundtrack, that calm ocean churn repetitively melodic. I stayed for a while, perched on the jetty. When I turned to leave, I felt guilty about turning my back on such a sight.

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Fourth of July.

My childhood summers didn’t offer much in the way of schedules and structure, because isn’t that how it should be? But the Fourth of July was undoubtedly one of the best and most scheduled days of my summer, with several outfit and scene changes, places to go and people to see!

Breakfast, of course, but a quick one, because I had to don my meticulously prepared patriotic outfit and then make sure that my knee pads, wrist guards and roller blades were in sound working order for the neighborhood parade. Over we trekked a couple streets to join the growing Falmouth Heights crowd, complete with streamered bikes and costumed dogs, all in the colors of our flag, of course. Some announcements and the National Anthem and some instructions, and at this point I just wanted to get the show on the road. And then it would start and we’d weave in and out of the streets and onto Grand Avenue, which ran along the beach. Up Montgomery and past the gnome house, where the nice man would hand out entire Hershey’s Bars to all the kids.

The parade would begin to disperse, and I’d head home to change into my bathing suit, and most likely today we’d pack lunch to eat on the beach. Towels, chairs, toys, wagon, check! And off we’d go, waving to Bill on the way.

The beach was a crowded collection of even more towels, chairs and toys, with hardly a blank space of sand to be found. While I didn’t prefer it to be this crowded every day (where would we play pickle?), this is exactly how it was supposed to be on Independence Day. Hot sand and cool New England water, back and forth, back and forth. And then the ding of the ice cream truck, and then back to the water.

Hours would turn into minutes, and then the bright sun would begin to soften into that magic light of a late Cape Cod afternoon. The beachgoers were thinning out. Maybe we could squeeze in a game of pickle? Dad usually stayed at the beach the latest, and at his cue, I’d head home.

Cleaned up, wet hair post shower and another outfit, red, white and blue (if I was lucky enough to have kept it clean, the parade one). Dinner was seafood and steak and maybe strawberry pie for dessert. Back outside to play until we instinctively knew it was time. Time to grab your windbreaker or sweatshirt, something to sit on and our glow bracelets. Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks–it was time. We’d walk back to the beach to join the ten thousand others, waiting. Hold someone’s hand until I was old enough to walk on my own. Find a spot, find your neighbors. The sand was cold, but I didn’t care. There was the barge, there were the boats. And then we waited.

The first whistle, the first comet. Silence. Then, “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” I loved the weeping willow ones, the golden sparks flowing down into the ocean. I could feel the boom in my heart, that pounding sound accompanying the colored stars. Everyone clapped and cheered when it was over; all the boats blew their horns. I loved the spent gunpowder aroma in my nose.

Gather the blankets, and head back home. Walk straight among the crowds, and you’d eventually find your way. And then, s’mores! Whose house this year? We alternated between the neighbor’s and ours. How many would I eat? I preferred my marshmallows well done, burnt crispy but gooey. Some preferred theirs toasted a light golden brown. But there were plenty of grahams and chocolate for everyone.

And then the day’s buzz would start to dwindle as the sounds of firecrackers grew further and further apart. That salty night air replaced the smoke smell, and I’d begin to fade. Time to head to my bed. I was already excited for next year.

This was a Cape Cod Fourth of July, and today I miss everything about it.

Girl on a Boat.

Scene opens on the earth from outer space. Zoom in to the Western Hemisphere, North America, the United States, the Northeast, New England, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Lambert’s Cove. There’s a boat anchored there, and I’m sitting on the stern with my feet in the ocean.

The calm inlet water laps against the boat, rocking it and lulling me into a dozy reverie encouraged by the ocean air I love so much. “Aren’t you going to jump in? The water feels great!” My dad and brother are submerged and then not, turning the water into foam as they swim back and forth.

I look toward the beach where the water is shallow, the sand visible and the ocean safe. I like where I’m sitting. I glance down past the boat stern and only see the sun’s and my watery reflection and not the elusive ocean floor. Should I jump? I can’t see the bottom.

But then I’m standing up and leaping through the air and with a splash, I’m in. I resurface, soaked in salt with the sea air refilling my lungs, and I’m laughing and happy because how could I not be?

Bill.

He was aptly named Bill, and he reminded me of my grandpa; I think it was the thick white silver hair and playful sarcasm.

The beach runs perpendicular to the streets that lead up to it, so down we walked, almost daily, towing a Radio Flyer wagon filled with salty beach chairs, sandy towels, whatever buckets, shovels and masks we hadn’t already lost that summer and my little brother, depending on whether or not the wagon’s maximum capacity had been reached.8e9b0a64f5ca11e183fd123138106140_7

First it was past our neighbor’s house with the giant dog that I prayed fervently was securely fastened somewhere indoors. Past the house where the nice girl and the family who had lovingly adopted her from Russia would sometimes stay for a breezy summer week. Past the overgrown backyard of the neighbors on the next street, and then the house with the ugly green shutters. Cross the street; there’s the little house, the yellow house, Elaine’s house with hydrangeas that Martha Stewart herself couldn’t grow. Past the big house with the big family. Cross the street again, and there was the house of the lady with the same name as me, the remodeled house and the house with all the gnomes and windmills, owned by the man who passed out the best candy during the Fourth of July parades.

And then there was Bill on the porch of his white house. The nice, kind Bill who would smile and wave and tell us to save him some ocean water. I’d laugh along because of course he was just kidding, and I was old enough to understand that.

And this happened for years. And he’d see us grow taller, tall enough to walk down that street without parental supervision. Then summer jobs at bagel shops and bakeries called some away, or the boat would beckon others to the open sea. Maybe it was just one or two of us walking down for a quick swim or quiet afternoon read. But for all that time, Bill was still there, waving, saying hi. From the perspective of his front porch, he watched a family grow and then become a collection of individuals, exploring new opportunities and venturing out, but not too far away to still occasionally make it home to that beach.

And then one summer, Bill wasn’t there anymore. And how I wished he was. I wanted him to joke about the ocean water one more time.

And now when I visit home and make that walk as soon as I can, I don’t do it without wishing Bill is on his porch, smiling, waving.

This was a Cape Cod summer, and today I miss everything about it.

Hurricane Sandy.

My dad is usually running around Cape Cod shooting scenic shots, but on Monday, he switched to shooting footage of Sandy. I found a few of his photos that correspond to the video locations and found the contrasts striking.

The first set is the entrance to Falmouth Harbor. The jetty doesn’t seem to stand a chance. Also, notice the delightful seaweed souvenirs the water is leaving behind.

These two are from Falmouth Heights Beach. The large white building in the center and the cement walls serve as a landmark for where the water is on a normal day.

I’m so thankful my parents were out of major harm’s way, and my thoughts are with those who weren’t.

Candy store.

That post-dinner high and low. High because it’s back outside to the cool evening warmth, the seaside shrubbery and concentrated colors of 7:30 pm. Low because the clock is ticking, and the crickets will come out on schedule no matter what and bedtime is looming.

But then there’s Dad with his hat on,  which means a journey of some kind is in store. He asks if we want to go to the candy store. Not A candy store but THE candy store. Down the street and along the beach, and there it sat, salty and old but offering treats, little and small, chocolate and sugar.

The walk to the candy store. Nestled in that big white building at the end.

Off we’d go, a party of three–my dad, sister and me, with best wishes and goodbyes from my mom and baby sister. Hand-clenched dollar bill, wrinkled but still spendable. And along the way our traveling party would grow by about six more kids who knew exactly where we were going and wanted in on the adventure–the salty air our guide and the ocean waves our song.

Sand hits boardwalk, salt air gives way to sugar, and there’s the store, waiting. We venture in, the candy calling from glass jars on tiered platforms, and then we take a brown paper lunch bag and choose how to spend our dollars. A lot of little candies or one that’s bigger and better? Caramels? Peppermint patties? Pixie sticks? Bubble gum? Only one dollar. What will it be? What are you getting? I can’t decide.

And then to the counter to pay for my wares. The bag gets dumped, the candy counted, a price named. I trade in my crumpled dollar. Sometimes I get change and sometimes not. But the candy is now mine, and the paper bag is cinched much like the dollar bill was before I spent it.

We’re all ready and happy with our purchases. And the adventure back home is different, less urgent. We have in our hands what we set out for. And then we walk at leisure to the beat of the little waves, tired themselves after a day of crashing and churning. Now they patter ashore, sleepy.

On the walk back, I open my bag immediately. Some wait, but I don’t.

And then I’m home; time for bed. I’m cool, tired and happy, with lungs full of the fresh salt air that I’ll wake up breathing, crawling out of bed to go hug my mother and wish her a good morning and to find my treasure bag of candy.

A typical summer evening that wasn’t typical really, and today I miss everything about it.