Cape Cod Strikes Again

27 Jul


If you get to Kingsbury Beach early, long before the giggles of sunscreened children and the jingle of the ice cream truck, you can settle down on the low tide and look out at the empty sand bars.

It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, those sand bars. An endless horizon of alternating sand and water.

A natural optical illusion.

Every morning we set up camp at the base of the water, and as the tide slowly came in we picked up and moved back a sand bar.  We laughed and pushed our ladder golf games a few feet.  I threw my Birkenstocks and thoroughly salty copy of The Goldfinch behind me, and on we went.

One sand bar at a time.

We moved with the tide.

The sun baked the sand all morning and when the water rushed over the flats it was warm.

Bathwater warm.

As the days go on, more and more people came out to the beach.  They sat in the water with their neon chairs.  They lounged and read and skimmed balls across the surface like skipping rocks.

The whole thing had a lazy easiness to it, a charm.

Eventually the clocks read high tide and the water reached the very tips of the beach. Kids floated and giggled and the ice cream truck and jingle were out and life was the sort of good you only watch on Gilmore Girls.

Around this time every day I pulled out my camera to really try to capture the beauty of the moment. I wanted to show everyone this missing wonder of the world, the greatest thing I’ve seen in my 26 years of life.

I never could quite manage it.

Every picture was a cheap knockoff of the real thing—The Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas.

A blurred wannabe.

I think I’m having the same problem with writing about Cape Cod

Each time I go to put words to the experience it’s a little fuzzy.  I’m trying to capture the bubblegum pink of the moment and it’s coming out a dull salmon.

How do you really describe fresh-caught clams on a drizzly afternoon?  What language conveys a 64-crayon Crayola sunset or a laughing countryside marsh?

It’s crazy to me that people actually live there.

Cape Cod is their home.

To me, Cape Cod is like Disneyland.  A mystical, almost cartoony place created simply to make you forget about your problems.  A parody of perfection designed for a few brief days a year.  Not real life, certainly, but a nice way to forget that there is a real life.

And yet…for some people this is their existence.

Some people wake up in the morning and go to PB Boulangerie Bistro and get that heavenly brioche and raspberry jam on a regular basis.

Some people have Wellfleet oysters whenever they want, and sponsor local artists and take part in the daily activism of the tight-knit community.

Some people have Cape Cod as their address.

It’s my current favorite dream, that address.

I imagine myself in the tiniest of cottages—an unreasonably small home with cedar shingles and white everything and a walk to the beach.

I’ll stroll to the pastry shop several mornings a week and linger over the menu, taking my time to memorize the orders, soak in the sugar.

I’ll make friends with that lady at the used bookstore, we’ll call her Betsy, the one whose brother-in-law is the tech at the local theater.  And speaking of the theater, I’ll have season tickets, obviously.  Fifth row center.  Hopefully next to some still-wildly-in-love retired couple who will adopt me as a surrogate daughter.

I’ll own a sailboat.  I won’t name it True Love, but I’ll really wish I could.

I’ll keep the paper-products-only store in business.

I’ll see my movies at the drive-in and haggle at the flea market and run a book club with Betsy and maybe an after-school literacy something or other.

Above all I’ll write.

I’ll write in that little Cape Cod cottage of mine.

I’ll write until the sun rises over the sand bars and the tide comes in and I can no longer stay cooped up indoors because I have to go outside and try to capture the moment.

I’ll write until I finally find the words to describe it all.

Which is to say,

I’ll never stop writing.


More on my love affair with Cape Cod here and here.

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5 Responses to “Cape Cod Strikes Again”

  1. chelsea July 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Ice cream trucks on the beach! The best!

  2. Inne August 7, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Beautiful writing!

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