There are few things as sad as empty rooms in a summerhouse on a gorgeous August day. For the past week our rental has been full of people, but this morning, we are but two, bumping around each other for the last few days. There should be sand to sweep out of the house and the smell of the grill, nightly excursions to the ice cream parlor in town, and my quintessential summer treat, fried clams.
What makes me hesitate to write my annual Ode to Summer is that I’ve been tres reflective this vacation, even though we’ve managed to stave off the predicted thunderstorms that were supposed to hit last week, and no one got into a teary brawl as can sometimes happens with Forced Family Fun, a term my friend Robin coined when we were teenagers.
We are at the end of our two weeks in Wellfleet, Mass; one town over from Truro, oddly called “the Lower Cape” even though it’s due north of its elbow. Truro was where we spent our family vacations in a true seasonal two story on Highland Avenue, the second floor bedrooms separated by tongue and groove paneling that never made it to the ceiling, allowing for children and parents alike to hear everything and tease each other, call out “Goodnights” and laugh at dad’s snoring before dropping off to sleep. Those days in Truro were some of the best parts of my childhood, influencing me in ways I am still discovering. Respect for the ocean and its treasures – a piece of sea glass to join a colorful collection on a kitchen window shelf back home, a perfect angel wing shell, driftwood aged by salt water, a game of gin rummy ending in rousing hysterics, the acknowledgement of summer and the change of seasons. Learning these simple pleasures.
We’ve traveled to P-Town no less than three times, boiled eight lobsters and a dozen ears of corn, supped on pints of chowder, went for long walks on the cove. My sister, younger brother and I try to recreate the best parts of those Cape summers from our youth, but we just couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to see “Smurfs” at the Wellfleet Drive-In, a patch of tar worthy of some of my favorite memories.
We’ve spent our days together at any one of the five beaches. I’ve been studying for my GREs, trying to remember my high school math and cursing periodically when an algebraic equation eludes me. I ask about Quantitative Reasoning and am answered by blank stares. Indeed. I would have the same reaction. I admire the New Yorkers who brave coming to the Cape, Land of the Red Sox. When we were kids, and cars were the size of small watercraft, we’d mimic our parents when the orange and blue license plates would crawl up and down Route 6a… “There go the New Yorkers…”. Even though I live and am registered to vote there, I still consider myself a New England gal. While we are at Marconi, tide high, a couple of my city companions complain about the water quality – “It’s like swimming in a bunch of diarrhea” and “ It’s cheaper than a seaweed wrap at the Canyon Ranch Spa. I haven’t showered in three days, I’m going to have to check out that outdoor thing”. My sister and I look at each other but don’t say anything. We don’t go into the water though. The moment for jumping the waves has been lost.
I’ve been plucking away as best I can on my guitar with Phil, finishing old crossword puzzles or catching up on “Mad Men” with my sister until I’m truly tired and ready the hit the bed, around 10:30 PM. When you’re older and the kids that your siblings had are now in their early 20s, raring to go explore the local bars with the friends they’ve invited, it makes you reminisce about the energy you no longer possess. Time speeds by so quickly, you’re trying to reel it back in like an 8-pound striped bass on the end of your line.
On the late afternoon of the 14th, Siobhan and I head to Duck Beach to witness the extreme low tide. Once a month the ocean stretches its arms back towards England; a phenomenon brought on the by the full moon. We laugh in wonder at how incredibility gorgeous the sky can be. Pepper cannot find any birds to chase as he did in Davis Park, and the plovers are just too miniscule and busy to attract his attention but he is happy to race up and down the beach and we are happy to chase him. Clammers and families and lovers have toted their chairs and umbrellas way out away from the pebbly beaches to enjoy the quiet lap of waves rolling on the sand bars, a sound quite different from the roar of the ocean side.
Mom and I have walked through the house making sure that the beds have been stripped and tossing everything into the wash. We are leaving the day after tomorrow. The house is empty save for the remains of distractions we brought with us, my guitar, board games, and back issues of New Yorkers. We are in the midst of a Scrabble-off. This morning Pepper & I braved it alone at Calhoon Hallow beach, but the sand finally drove us away. The wind is starting to pick up, advance warning of Hurricane Irene, but most of the vacationers welcome the balmy temperatures after the past two nights.
With dramatic weather comes dramatic sunsets, and I have been trying to keep the tradition my mother started all of those years ago in Truro when she and Pat Hall would call out “SUNSET” and drive off to Head of the Meadow beach. It was important to say goodbye to the day. I don my yellow mustard colored Cape Cod hooded sweatshirt, reminiscent of high school and head out into the 70-degree chill. It smells like fall and this reminds me why I love the East Coast so much. The shores of Wellfleet are truly magnificent; they are shores you can dream on for miles.
katsninelives.blogspot.comabout 1 year ago