Monday, August 31, 2009

Update on Cahoon Hollow

This morning I walked to Great Pond, above, and our guests left for a sail on the bay, then an afternoon at Duck Harbor. Knowing the interest in Cahoon Hollow beach, where an impressive crack opened up this past Saturday in the sand parking lot, I called the Department of Public Works. A spokesperson told me a front-end loader had been hard at work since 6 am to “fill in the canyon.” Apparently this type of situation has happened before, so the DPW folks know what to do. Take a look at the drop! (I took this photo yesterday, before the DPM started repairing the damage.) Fortunately, there’s no further danger. Cars can park at the edge of the dune, as in the past. However, should we have another freak storm with 3 to 5 inches of rain, I would think it best to avoid venturing out to Cahoon to peek over the edge, down at the ocean …

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chasm Opens Up At Cahoon, Closing Access to Parking

Around 2 o’clock, Saturday afternoon, a deep cleft opened up in the Cahoon Hollow parking lot. Fortunately, no one was injured. The sand lot had become a pond, with water pooling from the pouring rain. At one point, the water leveled reached the Beachcomber deck. Since it was low tide, down on the beach, presumably the fissure was related to water draining down into the dune. The pubic beach parking was closed until further notice, although gawkers continue to wander in, using the Beachcomber lot. It remains possible to access the beach below. Layers are visible, including a black line that may have once belonged to an earlier lot, although considerably lower down. Sven reminded me that the Beachcomber had been a life-saving station in its former life. Perhaps the black line was a remnant of a ramp of some sort?

A Misty Evening, by the Ocean

“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky.” Nothing lonely about Newcomb Hollow yesterday around six-thirty, when Sven and I went down to see the effects of Danny, which had combined with two low pressure systems to form a “hybrid storm.” The surf pounded the shore, closing in on high tide, and the current angled the waves north so they crashed almost out of view. Tourists and natives alike, out for an erosion-check, found it impossible to leave. There was something mesmerizing about the way the angry ocean merged with the sky. No horizon, just ominous fog. Huge swells of brownish-gray water rolled in, one after the other. Some spectators peered out from behind the parking lot fence. Another group had taken up position right at the water’s edge. There was even a man who held a black umbrella, fitting for a day most of us had spent in front of the television, watching black umbrellas arrive at the Mission Hill Basilica, then watching them depart an hour later. Mist coated the beach, the sand, the pavement, everything! In no time cold droplets had penetrated my fleece. “Amazing how a beach can be so different, “ said Sven. The lifeguards had hauled their chair onto the pavement, and someone had used the underside for a whimsical drawing. We saw quite a few people out with dogs. One hopeful man carried a fishing pole, although he did not use it, put off by the intimidating waves, no doubt. Then, to our surprise, our cottage guests appeared out of the mist. “I love this weather,” said Cassandra. Sven began to discuss architecture with her husband Robert, an architect, while nine-year-old Cory ran up and down in front of us, as if drawn to the sea, like a boomerang. Sometimes he danced so close to the waves that it made my heart pound. I asked him about the erosion, so he zipped back down to the edge to check before I could yell that he shouldn’t go too close.
Ruth, from the post office, and Ginny, from the library board, arrived about then. Ruth set off to walk her lab but Ginny stayed to chat. “One foot erosion,” Cory reported. “But it’s, like, three feet further down the beach.” Ginny told us parts of Wellfleet had lost power. “Wind gusts even knocked over the porta-potties at Mayo Beach. Unless it was a rogue element,” she added with half a smile, but none of us felt much like laughter. The weather fit our moods as the realization sank in that we had really lost Ted Kennedy, a reality only a funeral can make clear. Back at the fence, a woman strode triumphantly up the dune as if she had won the lottery and was eager to turn in her ticket. Over one shoulder, she carried a stray buoy, a reminder of a Wellfleet beach, on a somber day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wellfleet's French Connection ...

Above, a photo of the Masonic Temple of the Adams Lodge's roof, in better weather. I do not know which Wellfleet structure was first built with a mansard roof but will try to find out. There are several in town. My mother thought workers from France were responsible. She had little French flags that she planted in conspicuous places for my bilingual, bi-cultural children, to make them feel at home during summer vacation. If they asked her, she would carry on about Wellfleet’s French connection, a group of immigrant workers, in town for construction of Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless station in South Wellfleet, where the first transatlantic message from the USA was sent to England’s king by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. The French workers must have liked it here – who doesn’t? – because they left us at least three mansard-roofed houses. I always think of those French transplants when I pass what may have been their former homes. Yesterday, in front of Wellfleet Marketplace, I heard French. It sounded like real French, not Canadian. So I turned around and saw a couple, in their late twenties, with a seven-year-old, who happened to be tugging at his mother’s arm. “Bonjour!” I said, feeling gregarious, since they seemed a bit lost. “Vous êtes français? J’ai vecu 25 ans en France.” Our conversation proceeded, and it turned out they were in town for a few days, camping of all things. I gave them today's weather forecast, 3 to 5 inches of rain, which made them shrug their shoulders with resignation. I suggested the National History Museum in Brewster for their son as a daytime activity. They did not seem to realize how difficult the lendemain was going to be and did not write the name down. I said they should have booked rooms at Chez Sven – no, I didn’t. I told them to come back next year, when Wellfleet would have a real French restaurant, even a boulangerie, an unimaginable possibility when I was a young mother here in the summer thirty-five years ago. But I did feel sorry for the couple with the child. Camping in a hybrid hurricane cannot be fun….

Friday, August 28, 2009

An August Day in the Life

I start my day early, waking between six and seven. I turn on coffee and munch a biscotti while the coffee brews, reading email. Then, coffee cup in hand, I remain quite a while at the computer. There are requests for accommodation, that we cannot provide, already booked for most of September, but I answer straight away. It’s always good to answer people as soon as possible so they can make other arrangements. One of the emails is from Peter McMahon, at the Modern House Trust, regarding an article in yesterday’s New York Times. Another is a message from a guest who stayed in Seagull Cottage at the beginning of the month. Steve Buccellato draws comic books for a living and has sent me an amazing watercolor of the cottage living room. What a nice surprise! Morning brings private time for the innkeeper, so necessary, I find, by August. These past two weeks have been particularly strenuous, due to the humidity. I usually post whatever I’ve written the night before to my blog and today is no exception. By eight, I have taken my shower and am getting ready to make breakfast for guests. I remove the dew from the vintage table, out in the garden, replace the blue and white striped cushions, stored in the house overnight. It’s colder than usual this morning. Will everyone be happy eating outside? The sky is blue, so probably the answer to that question is yes. I chop organic peaches for fruit salad, prepare the breakfast tray, bake muffins so they'll be warm when the first guests come down. I clip fresh flowers and set the table. I spend 10 minutes in the garden, deadheading flowers while the butterflies dance in front of me, again, enjoying more peaceful quiet time. After everyone has been served breakfast, the phone rings. Good God! It’s a cancellation for the weekend. My first impulse is to tell the woman we do not appreciate phone calls before nine o’clock, but she is spluttering on about the hurricane. Coolly I explain that we have turned away other people for the same period and that the second half of her weekend fee is due anyway. I make a mental note of the family name, in order to exclude her from future bookings, and post availability to the Wellfleet Chamber blog. Next, I clear the breakfast dishes. Since one of our guests left shortly after breakfast, I watch NECN in Liberty Coin Suite. Sure enough, we are going to have rain and wind on Saturday. The next few hours are spent cleaning and doing laundry. I love the way the sheets look, hanging out to dry. It makes them smell wonderful and, of course, saves energy. While outside, I notice the light descends at a different angle, indication fall is almost here. Sven sits with the Green Room guests for an hour, chatting about this and that, before they leave to spend the afternoon in Chatham. Our new Liberty Coin guests arrive from California at 2:30. I give them orientation and they, too, head out for the beach. “We didn’t want to stay anywhere else,” the woman tells Sven. “I did my research. Take a look at Tripadvisor. You both are almost celebrities, according to what I’ve read.” Sven, of course, tells me immediately. Celebrities? Amazing! What a little bit of good innkeeping and positive energy can do ….

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wellfleet Connections to Julia Child

Julie & Julia is playing at the Wellfleet movie theater again this week. I have heard many reports about how good Meryl Streep is in the film and cannot wait to see it. I know a non-resident on Slough Pond who actually lived across the street from Julia Child in Cambridge for many years and even remembers when Julia’s kitchen was dismantled for transportation to the Smithsonian. I wonder what Julia would think of my new kitchen? At least, the Le Creuset dish is in obvious use! I started using Le Creuset when I lived outside Paris. In an amusing promotion, I Love Inns has pulled together information about Julia Child’s influence on innkeepers. A writer called me last week for an interview, since I had answered their questionnaire in what must have been considered a provocative way. I was happy to oblige. In fact, Julia Child did influence me greatly and the I Love Inns piece does a fantastic job of explaining why.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Go to the Beach in the Morning?

Sven and I usually walk in the late afternoon. Yesterday I got my husband to LeCount Hollow in the morning, a rare occurrence. (In the evening we attended the Selectmen's meeting and, for a summary, see the end of yesterday's post.) There’s something special about morning on a Wellfleet beach, in summer, a positive energy that lingers way after dawn. Beachgoers move about with more spring to their step, brimming with the expectation of a good time. There were not a whole lot of tourists out, but we did see entire families involved in digging sand castles, together. The second thing I noticed was how different morning light can be with the occasional sunbeam dancing off the water. It was mostly cloudy when we arrived, with mist obscuring the view towards Marconi. A silhouette appeared in the distance as a dark spot, only to reveal itself to be a very trim young man who jogged confidently past. Low tide had peaked at ten, exposing a wide expanse of beach. Two little boys were busy carving canals in the sand, using the space almost like an easel. The surf was still strong, due to Bill’s passage, and a ledge seemed to have been created, where the waves crashed, a reminder of the powerful rogue wave that carried off a child in Maine this week. We noticed the piping plover nests had disappeared, no doubt swept away by Bill, too. Where plovers usually screeched at each other, the beach had fallen eerily silent. Below the Marconi site observation platform, we turned around. Two very brave sandpipers led the way back. Their feet moved like rapid pistons propelling their small bodies forward. By the time we reached the parking lot, the sky had turned blue and people were streaming onto the beach, having decided it was a beach day after all. Know what? I think they missed the best part!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Call To Action! Selectmen's Meeting at 7 pm

I'm glad to report that other Wellfleetians have already taken action regarding opposition to the spraying of at least four herbicides beneath the power lines, a movement spearheaded by Kristen Shantz, who sent everyone concerned the following message: "Greetings, all. Tomorrow night, Tuesday, (8/25 @ 7pm at the COA), we will be going to the Selectman's meeting to voice our concerns regarding NSTAR's plan to use herbicides on our power lines. Because we did not meet the deadline for getting onto the formal agenda we will use the 'community speak' portion of the meeting to discuss alternatives to spraying. The community speak occurs at the beginning of the meeting. So far it appears that Eastham has successfully worked out an agreement with NSTAR to mow their power lines. Can you join us tomorrow evening?" Kristen also alerted me to Brent Harold's column in the Cape Cod Times.

At the beginning of the Selectmen’s meeting this evening Town Administrator Paul Sieloff summarized the situation regarding Nstar and stated he plans to meet with Nstar officials next Tuesday. Then Chair Dale Donovan asked Selectman Ira Wood to speak. Ira stated he would be for the creation of a bylaw that would prohibit the spraying of herbicides in Wellfleet and suggested the town needs to get its act together on this issue fast, prior to October 15. Selectman Michael May expressed his support and mentioned that, as a Vietnam Vet, he had witnessed friends sickened by Agent Orange. The 40 to 50 people in the room, who had come to oppose Nstar’s spraying plan, gave the Selectmen their full attention. Dale then allowed comments from the audience. Numerous citizens expressed their concern, and certain homeowners, who lived beside the power lines, exchanged specific information related to this proximity. I had written a statement to read but decided to simply thank the Selectmen instead for moving in the right direction. Anyone who did not make it to the meeting, please remember to send off a short note to Hillary (hillary AT, health agent, to express your opposition to the spraying of herbicides in Wellfleet and stop by Hatch's fruit and veggie stand (below) to sign the petition against Nstar's planned use of chemicals to remove brush.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Candy Lover’s Guide to Wellfleet

Anyone with a sweet tooth knows candy is available at the Wellfleet drive-in/flea market, various local gas stations, and at Cumberland Farms, as well as at Wellfleet Marketplace, but real indulgence in chocolate only happens big-time when a candy lover crosses Main Street to enter The Chocolate Sparrow. This tiny shop, part of the Sparrow Empire, is open only in the summer. The chocolate bonbons come from the Mother Ship in Orleans. During my visit, I resisted buying anything, since I’m on a diet, but I must admit the display was appealing: salt water taffy, peanut butter taffy, fudge (made at P-town Fudge Factory), chocolate bark, chocolate creams and much, much more. The two young women behind the counter told me orange peels and chocolate turtles are the most popular items. I noticed Chocolate Sparrow creates the turtles with three different types of nut: pecan, cashew and almond, good for folks with a specific nut allergy. (Also, readers with allergies, know this chocolate is gluten free, and the dark chocolate is dairy-free.) The Chocolate Sparrow even stocks Marzipan and sugar-free samplers. The shop does its best business on rainy days and sells between 30 and 40 pounds of candy per day. One little boy left the shop with what he called, “a bag of heaven.” I met a young mother whose kids had all received one dollar for candy shopping. She told me how interesting this experiment had been: two of her children purchased penny candy, which starts at 10 cents; the third bought a watermelon wedge pop with his dollar.

Connoisseurs of fine chocolate will probably be wondering by now when I am going to mention the Wellfleet Candy Company, located in the South Wellfleet shopping center. I went in this morning and encountered one very sad chocolate confectioner, busy creating chocolate oysters with a candy mold made from a real oyster shell. This marvelous shop will disappear forever in ten days. Wellfleet resident Jade Huber explained, “Once the economy tanked, I had to close down the Web site, and the traffic this summer doesn’t sustain the rent I have to pay here.” I felt almost as sorry as Jade who had obviously invested her heart and soul in this wonderful shop with its pretty lavender walls. Her chocolate contains no chemicals or preservatives, so it has a short shelf life, and cannot be stocked by places like Wellfleet Marketplace. The chocolate oysters, with local names like "Blackfish Creek" or "Indian Neck," will continue to be available at Oysterfest, but Jade is going to be looking for a job. I could not leave without trying a chocolate oyster, so I bought two, one for Sven, one for future cottage guests, at $5.50 the oyster. (They’re BIG!) Ours was dee-lish! Before leaving I noticed the chocolate turtles. They actually look like turtles, as opposed to those I saw at Chocolate Sparrow, which seemed mass-produced. Candy makes a great present to take home to friends or relatives. If you happen to be in Wellfleet this week, stop in at the Wellfleet Candy Company. beside the South Wellfleet General Store, to pick up some of Jade’s marvelous chocolates. You’ll be glad you did!

And, while we’re on the subject of chocolate, don’t miss the final performance of Death by Chocolate, a comedy about winning a battle of wills against a bag of Hershey kisses, Tuesday, August 25th, 7:30, at WHAT’s Harbor Stage).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Turbulent Seas, Turbulent Cyberspace

At Jenn Mattern’s blog Breed ‘Em & Weep, someone commented last month that Jenn should not be upset about the vitriol her recent Globe article drew in the online comments section. From comments to her blog about her reaction, I learned folks who comment negatively on blogs are called “trolls.” Of all the people reading out there in Cyberspace, it’s hard to imagine what’s going through the head of someone who bothers to comment negatively on a blog post, especially on a blog like mine where the blogger has the choice of posting comments or not. Waking up to vitriol is not pleasant, but here’s the opportunity to see what other readers think, so let me share this particular opinion with you: “I am one of your loathed tourists and I have to complain to you and let you know that after coming to Wellfleet for the last 10 years I've noticed that Wellfleet residents are the rudest sort... And I grew up in the Hamptons. I know all too well how the local tourism paved my roads in the summer and plowed them in the winter. Without tourism you probably wouldn't have a house or a Cumberland Farms down the street. Remember this rant of yours when you are a ‘tourist’ and expect to be treated with a little respect. Can't wait to put more money in your purse next summer. Keep the change.”

Whoa! "Keep the change?" “Loathed tourists”? “Wellfleet residents are the rudest sort”? Did I go overboard in my description of how the August invasion feels to residents? I went back to reread the post in question and maintain what I wrote. Anonymous must have been having a very bad day to feel the compunction to comment this way. He/she must not know that I was a Wellfleet tourist myself for 25 years. My kids spent summers with their grandparents and worked in local restaurants, learning to say "Sure!" to whatever request a tourist might make. To answer his/her insinuation about my house, actually I owned this beautiful place before we turned it into a B&B. (Sven and I had moved back from Europe to care for my elderly parents in 1997. They bought the house in 1970. We decided to open a bed & breakfast to have something interesting to do during the last years of my mother’s life. She passed away almost three years ago, and we are still here.) Sven and I have discovered green tourists – the kind our philosophy attracts – are a delight. Many innkeepers burn out fast, precisely due to the type of tourist Anonymous must be … Another unpleasant visitor over the weekend, Bill, who made waves and brought tourists and locals alike out to gawk. How much worse this hurricane could have been had the continental weather conditions sucked it towards the coast! Sven and I went to Newcomb Hollow this morning where a crowd had gathered at the end of the parking lot. The waves were rowdier than usual, but the locals did not seem impressed. I heard one man describing to some tourists how, 20 years ago, the ocean had removed part of the pavement. We watched a little boy flirting with the sea and saw one lone swimmer, in the distance, but she did not stay in for long ....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rip Currents Arrive Ahead of Bill

“Just discovered your blog,” Ginny Page called across the parking lot as she herded members of the Conservation Commission into a white car for a site inspection. “You know more about what’s going on here than the newspapers!” What a nice comment from this busy lady whom I worked with on the Friends of the Wellfleet libraries board several years ago! The ocean was calm when Sven and I walked the “backshore” at dusk Thursday night, but by yesterday, guests reported rip currents, which kept most folks out of the water, the exception being experienced surfers, already flocking to the surf in record numbers. Thank you to everyone who read yesterday’s post, an important one, and to those who acted upon it. From the sidebar, you can tell there are 15 people who follow this blog. What’s not written are the 25 other daily readers and the 200 views per day. I enjoy reporting on life in Wellfleet. After serving breakfast this morning, I journeyed up to the ocean so readers could see the difference one day can make here. There was no red flag but the lifeguards were not letting anyone but surfers into the water. Lifeguards are not responsible for the surfers, apparently. Lots of people out watching the action on the waves. Click back Sunday for a fresh report. When the weatherman predicts erosion way before the hurricane moves up the coast, that's bad news!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Call to Action! Silent Spring Redux?

Take a good look at the vegetation, growing at Wellfleet’s border with the National Seashore. Many of you, former guests, who walked the path to Dyer Pond, passed under the natural arch created by this tree and saw the vegetation with their own eyes. In my opinion, removal with power machines should not be difficult. Unfortunately, Nstar has chosen a different method. It intends to spray at least four herbicides beneath the power lines in Wellfleet and neighboring Eastham to remove the brush. I think spraying toxic chemicals in the vicinity of homes is a bad idea in general and even worse in a town with sandy soil and private wells. The chemicals will seep into our water supply.

Eastham has already mobilized. The most recent meeting between the Eastham Selectmen, Nstar, and Concerned Citizens Against Herbicide Use on Cape Cod ( took place August 19. The spraying was to begin August 17. August 12, Senator Rob O’ Leary and Rep. Sarah Peake succeeded in obtaining a 30-day delay. Jared Collins reported this morning that at “the Eastham town meeting, the Selectmen decided, in response to mounting concerns, to seek a means to ban herbicide-pesticide use town-wide.” He left a petition at Hatch’s fruit/veggie stand, but Wellfleet needs to organize, too, on its own, and quickly. (Jared and other concerned citizens of Eastham will be interviewed on WOMR’s Organic Thinking, to air Fri-Sun 8 pm.)

Wellfleet Health Agent Hillary Greenberg suggests sending her an email, expressing concern, copied to the Selectmen and woman ( I intend to also write a separate letter to the Selectmen/woman. To read more about the meeting August 19 and the chemicals involved go to Green Cape, which has collected some excellent material.

From my research: Federal law requires that utility companies remove brush beneath power lines. People complained about the machinery/noise in the past. Nstar decided to use chemicals.

The Wellfleet Health Agent provided Nstar with information on abutters’ wells so the homeowners could be notified. There’s a good chance the chemicals will also get into the drinking water of numerous other Wellfleet residents since we share a sole source aquifer. Not to mention the unforeseen results of having toxic chemicals in local dust, etc. It is shocking in this day and age, with the information out there about body burden and the known consequences of chemical use, that we should be faced with Nstar choosing chemicals over mechanical removal of brush.

Selectman Dale Donovan responded to my copied email: “Unfortunately, the spokesman for the State Agricultural Department, Scott Soares, raised the crucial argument in this situation when he asked, ‘Why just N-Star?’ We are asking the state to prevent something that the towns do not. The chemicals involved (and a host of others) are readily available at stores and regularly used by an unknown number of people on a regular basis. I am hoping that we can move this argument to the Board of Health and ask them to provide regulations that will halt all use of potentially damaging herbicides, pesticides, and nitrogen-loading fertilizers. Your help and that of others concerned can be important in having our Board of Health take action.”

So I will write a letter to the Board of Health as well. I would be happy to see local stores remove these products from their shelves.

Everyone take action NOW! There is no time to waste. Exposure to chemicals can increase your risk of getting cancer. If you are a resident of Wellfleet, mention living here year-round. If you visit in the summer, explain how you would prefer to stay in a chem-free town. If you are a non-resident homeowner, let the Board of Health know you care about this issue as much as the residents do.

Wellfleet is a special green place. Let’s keep it that way!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Personal View on Health Care Reform

For today’s post I have joined a movement of elders, organized by blogger extraordinaire, Ronni Bennett, to explain why health care reform is so necessary. Every discussion of health care reform should begin with a recitation of the facts: the growing number of uninsured, the fact that we spend 16% of GDP on health care compared to 7-9% in Canada and Europe yet have inferior results, the fact that the reform plans being discussed are middle-of-the-road compromises between people who want single-payer and people who want the status quo. This week came word the public option might be dropped. This is dreadful news, capitulation to the powerful insurance companies and evidence their scare tactics may have worked.

Last week I wrote the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, after learning the end-of-life clause in the health care reform bill was in trouble: “I am distressed that the Senate Finance Committee has thought of scrapping the end-of-life clause from the health care reform bill. This measure is an excellent initiative and anyone who believes Sarah Palin's description of ‘death panels’ is a nitwit. For once we have a sensible, intelligent president who is leading our country towards necessary health care reform. Apparently the clause in question would enable doctors to spend more time on the important topic of end of life. Getting older folks to think about end of life is sensible, not scary or dangerous. I am 62 and my husband is 71. I welcome the option to discuss end of life every five years if I so desire. Please do not be intimidated!! Maintain this end of life clause!”

When my husband Sven and I moved here from Europe, we benefited from free health care. In France I felt confident about doctors, medicine, pharmacy personnel, hospital care. If I had continued to live in Paris, I would have had free care for the rest of my life. Instead, in 1997, I left Europe for Cape Cod and assumed responsibility for my parents, so they would not have to go into nursing homes. They received great medical care from physicians at Outer Cape Health, above. My father had worked for the government, and their Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal policy even reimbursed all meds until the year 2000 when fine print kicked in, creating a co-payment for the meds, but not the medical care! I was able to observe their last years and months – a precious experience, which gave me a new perspective on end of life – and came to appreciate hospice, totally paid by Medicare, which allowed my mother to remain in her own home until her peaceful death at 97.

Upon arriving in the USA, I had taken out a health care policy as a freelance writer. It cost $250/month for the two of us. That rate has gone up at least $100 every year since then. I believe the escalating cost of health care needs to be stopped. I would prefer a single-payer system, like in France, but President Obama obviously did not feel it would get through Congress. His health care reform proposal with public option is the next best thing. We desperately need health care reform in this country. Yesterday the President created a Web site to set the record straight. Please pass this information on to family and friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reflections at LeCount Hollow Beach, at Twilight

How peaceful LeCount Hollow Beach at the end of a hot summer day! On the other side of Cape Cod, the sun is setting over the bay and soft pearly light slowly spreads down from Race Point, at the tip of the peninsula, across the eastern horizon, tinting the sky pink and the water lavender. Sven takes my photo, a bit blurry, but who cares? Gentle waves lap at the shore since Bill has not churned up the coast yet. The warm beige sand retains some of the heat from the day, a contrast to the cool water, 68 degrees according to the weatherman. The breeze caresses my skin. We see a covey of sandpipers, on a swale left by the outgoing tide. They stand their ground, reluctant to leave, then flutter away, one after the other, as we pass. Further along, a lone seagull stands guard beside a fallen companion and does not budge at the sight of humans. Suddenly a seal pops its head out of the water and, to my surprise, allows me take its picture before diving backwards into a wave, only to reappear a dozen yards away, so close we can see its whiskers wiggle. Apparently, the seal wants to play. I heave an silent sigh of relief that Sven forgot his bathing suit. Otherwise, this seal would be swimming along beside my husband. We walk down to Marconi and turn around. I've just finished reading a novel about suppression of the Kurds in Iran during the twentieth century. Thoughts of violence feel incongruous on this peaceful beach. Perhaps world leaders should be required to walk here, before making decisions that affect other people's lives. Back at access to the parking lot, we find several dozen tourists and summer folk. During the day, they clustered around the lifeguard, on the public beach, and this is where they are still, throwing Frisbees or lounging in beach chairs and on blankets. I'm glad we did not come during the heat of the day. How much more special is twilight, with bonfires flickering and children playing on the lifeguard's chair!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Anyone for Photography on the Outer Cape?

There seem to be a lot of photographers in town, not the amateur kind like you and me with our trusty digital cameras on the ready – visible even at the transfer station! – but real honest-to-goodness professional photographers like Joel “Cape Light” Meyerowitz who can be spotted, on occasion, ordering ice cream at PJs. We had at least two photographers, last year, as guests, here to capture Wellfleet’s beauty. Yesterday I saw one man downtown who seemed intent on taking photos of pedestrians. I could not tell whether he requested payment or was simply wandering through town snapping random people, the way I do. And then, of course, there are the occasional photography exhibits, photos on display at Mac’s Shack (below), and photography courses in Truro. Meyerowitz taught one such course this past weekend. The description reads, “Bring your camera, your photographs and lunch, and meet at Castle Hill for five hours of taking pictures and talking about taking pictures with Joel Meyerowitz.” I took that course almost 25 years ago and the pitch was exactly the same, word for word. I remember being shown how a person or an object, like a piece of driftwood, a buoy, or an old wheelbarrow could turn an ordinary landscape into something more exciting. We also did show-and-tell over lunch: I shared an excellent photo of my younger daughter, framed by an inner tube she was carrying back from Dyer Pond, below. The teacher dismissed my special photo with a curt nod. Fortunately, I was not discouraged. I still enjoy taking pictures, as regular blog readers will have noticed ...