Cape Cod Love Letter
Like the diet, such plans are abandoned in short order, and by midweek, I’ve plowed through a potboiler picked up for a quarter at a church tag sale on Route 6. And I know more about Archer Mayor’s Brattleboro than Tom Friedman’s Lahore.
There’s a poster at the Wellfleet Public Library announcing a lecture by a very smart man. Oh, too bad, he’s speaking next week. The extent of our cultural meandering is to tune in to an evening concert from Tanglewood on the radio while we play crazy eights in the living room. From our deck on Wednesday night, we can hear the music and see the contra dancers on Wellfleet Pier as we play Scrabble.
Every year we say, “Hey, we should go do that.”
Every year, we never do.
Last year I spotted a cell phone user on our beach. Actually, he wasn’t on the beach; he was in the water, cavorting with his golden retriever as he talked. It’s just wrong. I want to tell him: no multitasking. Relaxing and searching for doubloons only. Get off my beach and come back when you can follow the rules.
Because, to my mind, that’s what vacations are for, and that’s why the Cape is the place to do it. If you let — or make — yourself drop everything, the Cape, or any other place you revisit year after year, becomes a part of you, and its restorative powers will sustain you through the fall, winter, and spring, until you return. Sometimes when I can’t sleep in the middle of a January night, I take myself back to our beach. My breathing becomes the bay, inhaling, exhaling, onto the sand. Soon I’m dozing.
The Cape is our reward for New England winters. Could we ask for a better time and setting to slow down and reconnect — with kids, partners, parents, and friends? A few years ago, we got together for an impromptu picnic on our beach with some old college buddies who were moving to California.
It was one of those crystalline afternoons that I imagine happen only in the Cape’s wide, high light: no wind, no greenheads, warm water, tide just right. The grass danced a spangly silver, and as the kids scrambled along paths through the dunes and carved out canals at the water’s edge, we sat in beach chairs and solved the world’s problems.
We stayed on the beach yakking until it was nearly too dark to see. It’s a day that, years later, we still talk about. And if the olive loaf sandwiches and the beer hadn’t run out, we all might still be sitting there.