Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Guest-blog: My Eroded Memories of the Cape

Today, the 18th day of the Blogathon, I am happy to present Alisa Bowman, who blogs at Project Happily Ever After. Along with hundreds of her fans, I follow Alisa’s daily adventures in marriage-land and look forward to the 2011 publication of her book, Project: Happily Ever After. In this guest-post, Alisa touches on a phenomenon I have noticed here at the B&B. Often guests choose Wellfleet because of the childhood memory of a Cape Cod vacation. Perhaps the same is true for you?
Please join me in welcoming, Alisa! ….

Not long ago, I was with my five-year-old at the science museum, near where I live in Pennsylvania. She was playing with sand and water—part of an exhibit designed to teach her about erosion. “If you want to learn about erosion, we should visit Cape Cod,” I found myself saying.

Soon memories were surfacing. There I was as a little girl. I was with Dad and my brothers and we were listening to a guide tell us about the Cape and about how someday, before we grew up, the hook at the end of the Cape would no longer be connected to the rest.

That, my friends, was quite the deep moment for us kids. I believe our exact words were, “Wow.”

Let’s just move beyond the fact that the hook still seems to be attached to the rest of the Cape even though I am now quite grown up. It’s possible our nature guide exaggerated on the timeline. It’s just as possible that I didn’t hear him correctly (after all, I somewhat remember also being told, at some point, that killer bees would invade the north and kill off every single one of us before my 20th birthday).

And, might I posit that it’s also possible that this is a sign from God.

At any rate, my point is this: the memory gave me pause. It did because it was warm and fuzzy. It was the kind of memory that I could wrap around myself on a cold, dreary winter’s day.

My family vacationed up and down the northeast coast and throughout most of the country when I was young. We piled into our station wagon and drove for hours and hours. During these hours us kids frequently complained about who was touching whom. Occasionally one of us peed our pants or threw up.

Every so often Dad threatened to pull the car over if we didn’t shut up already. But, without fail, we eventually arrived at our destination, which was almost always a campground. There we would all sit on the car’s back bumper as Mom timed Dad to see how quickly he could assemble our family’s tent.

Dad hoisted tents in Virginia Beach, various beach towns in New Jersey, The Badlands, Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Grand Tetons, Acadia, Lake George, Quebec, Bar Harbor, Rockport, and the Cape.

He was a chemist by trade, but, when on family vacation, he was the Quickest Tent Putter Upper in the US.

Mom, a visual artist, had a particular affinity for the Cape, so Dad put up a lot of tents in that area, usually in campgrounds outside of Provincetown.

As Mom spent many hours each day with her paints and her canvas, Dad took us kids to whatever activity he could find. Occasionally it was the beach, but more often than not it was a nature excursion or lecture.

It was during these outings that I learned about lichen, erosion, plovers, and various sea creatures. We learned about beach grass and about dunes. We learned about those plastic rings that came attached to six packs at that time, and how they were killing sea life.

And those are among my fondest memories of my childhood.

As I watched my daughter play with the erosion exhibit, though, I realized that I had not passed such memories on to her. I owned a tent, but I didn’t know how to assemble it.

More important, I had not taken her on hikes or nature excursions. In the seemingly endless quest to balance work with family, I’d resorted to whatever vacation time seemed easy and mindless. She’d been to the beach. She’d been on a cruise. She’d visited relatives in various states around the country.

But she had not attended a single nature hike.

Shame on me!

That, my friends, will change.

It has been a joy to meet and get to know Alexandra online. I look forward to, one day, meeting Alexandra in person and visiting her in Wellfleet. I probably won’t hoist a tent because I’m quite soft in my adulthood and have become attached to hot showers and nearby toilets.

But without a doubt I will share with my daughter the same gift Dad gave to us kids while on the Cape.

If you are hoping to do the same for your kids, here are some places to check out: Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, Green Briar Nature Center in Sandwich, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.