Friday, May 8, 2009

Cape Cod

I think that there are places that speak to your soul. There are a handful of places I've been in my life where I have felt acutely alive and lucky to be exactly where I was at that precise moment. Some of my favorite places? Manhattan, certain parts of San Franciso, the misty rolling hills outside of Pittsburgh, the Gulf Coast of Florida, and Maine.

Then there are the places I've never been but have always felt a pull toward. I have vowed to visit each of them someday: Italy, the Cotswolds region of England, the Florida Keys, and Cape Cod.

So when our rambles through Massachusetts on Spring Break took us within half an hour of Cape Cod, there was no question. I HAD to see it. We spent the afternoon driving random zigzags across the Cape. In one little town we stopped to eat in a little pub where the clam chowder tasted like it had been made by God himself. It was awesome, and I declined to share it.Have you ever pictured a place so clearly that you almost feel like you know it? Like you've already been there? That's how Cape Cod was for me. I've read countless novels and memoirs set in Cape Cod, seen movies shot there, and gazed hungrily at Cape Cod-themed photo spreads in gardening magazines. Which, as we all know, are all completely realistic and truthful.

So I was somewhat embarrassed to find myself shocked, SHOCKED, to see real-life things like grocery stores, gas stations, and malls where I expected to find a quaint fairyland of gray clapboard homes, pristine beaches, and quirky little seaside towns. Holy crap, real people actually live there! It had embarrassingly never occurred to me.

I mentally adjusted and moved on.

We happened across this mostly deserted salt marsh estuary. We saw a nesting pair of osprey as we were crossing the sand to this cool boardwalk that extends waaay out over the water.

Bug had to walk it like a catwalk. Of course she did.
And I do mean WAAAAAY out over the water. Bug, Bear, and Daddy Shortbread are only about halfway out the boardwalk in this picture.
There were deep, clear channels of water running through the marsh grass. The girls were both captivated watching the scores of little fish swimming along the channels.
Daddy Shortbread said (in kind of a pissy tone, if I'm being perfectly truthful) that the whole place felt like a minimalist painting to him. If by minimalist, you mean a landscape stripped completely down to sea and sky, then yeah. But to me, that's what makes it so serene and peaceful (once you get away from the gas stations and malls). I could lean on the railing and stare at the water for hours. Preferably with a nice iced coffee in my hand.
The girls felt the same way I did. There's something special about the first time you see the ocean after a long winter. They hung over the railing and took deep lungfuls of the salt air.
On our way back to the van, the girls had to stop to "wash" their feet in a little cove. Because, supposedly they were filthy? You know, from the messy, messy wooden boardwalk? With all that water, I half wanted to wade, too (if it hadn't been 60 degrees that day), so I let them have at it. It doesn't hurt to occasionally let your kids think they're getting away with something. Even if they're totally not.
I pointed out to Daddy Shortbread several lovely, water's edge vacation homes that would have made the perfect Mother's Day gift for me. He stingily refused to buy them for me even when I played the Labor and Delivery card. Next time I plan to try the Remember When You Snapped Bear's Neck In a Bib and Felt Really Bad? card. He still cringes when I bring that one up, so it might have more negotiating weight.
What are your favorite places?


Anonymous said...

I LOVE the gulf coast of Fl. The beaches are the best. I lived there for a time and it was great. Maine is also beautiful. I love it up in and around Acadia & Bar Harbor.

Your pictures are really nice. Glad you enjoyed your trip.


smalltownmom said...

Beautiful pictures. I don't get out of California too often -- what I love here is driving around in my own valley! And all the beautiful oceanside towns and cities.

DaddyS said...

I've gotta say, I can see the attraction of the beach at water's edge on a warm day, but I was a wee underwhelmed.

Downtown old Salem, however, was fascinating.

Rose said...

The pictures look great. I went to Cape Cod about 6 years ago with my mom and loved it. We even took the ferry over to Nantucket, which was beautiful. I agree about reading and places; If I ever get to Missoula, Montana, it'll be because of Ivan Doig's books.

Jen on the Edge said...

Virginia, England, Santa Barbara (without the fires)