Thursday, August 04, 2011

Happy 50th, National Seashore!

Today we are going to celebrate the National Seashore, which is having its 50th anniversary this year, a topic covered by Winslow's Tavern blog last week. I already wrote about the initial festivities in May. Now I would like to draw your attention to an exhibit of paintings at the Addison Gallery in Orleans, which consistently offers up high-quality art for collectors and non-collectors alike, AND the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp.

Addison Gallery has put together a marvelous assembly of artwork that conjure up Seashore beaches at dawn and dusk, the iconic buildings, the wildlife. You can admire these images on the gallery Web site. The online exhibit succeeds in putting words to the visual experience of encountering nature in the park, not a simple feat. Have no doubt that it would be well worth your while to visit Addison Gallery, but if you are not on Cape, check out the lyrical descriptions instead.

I particularly admired Stephanie Foster’s photograph entitled "Sea Splash" and its caption: “I enjoy the solitude and beauty of fall and spring when I’m alone in the vast spaces and can feel its power and observe the rhythms. Or at the start or end of day when the light is magical. The National Seashore gives me a sense of place and belonging.” I think similar thoughts when I walk through the Seashore. This is the people’s park to enjoy. It belongs to us all.

The Cape Cod National Seashore boundary is less than half a mile from Chez Sven. Regular readers have heard me mention this boundary often because the power lines run alongside the park. Check out the map to the right. All the green is National Seashore, forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and forests dotted with lighthouses and wild cranberry bogs. It's a great place to go hiking. We are fortunate that President Kennedy saved these 44,600 acres from development. Did you know 61% of Wellfleet is in the Seashore?

Yesterday Sven and I journeyed out to the Marconi site, with its vistas of pitch pine and endless blue sky. Our destination was the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp trail, which starts at the far end of the parking lot.

About 5,000 years ago, Atlantic white cedar began to grow on Cape Cod, wherever there was wet ground or swamp. The colonists cleared these forests and used the wood. Most of the white cedar is gone now. The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, within the National Seashore, remains.

The last time we visited together, five years ago, I remember brilliant colors that I have mentioned to guests ever since: purple and yellow, in particular. We chose a sunny day, after the rain, in the hope of capturing those colors with my new camera. To our surprise, the rain had mostly been absorbed into the very dry ground. Everything was green. Green moss, green ferns, green leaves, green shadows. Beautiful, but green, not purple and yellow.

Have you visited the Cape Cod National Seashore? What is your favorite national park?