About Cape Cod: Waves of Light
Someone tapped a mallet against a chime. Its ring stopped me, stirred me, touched something ancient in me. If was as if the faint reverberations were waves of light spreading through my memory. Now I let that mallet strike across this landscape, let it reveal what resonates. From 25 autumns and winters here, certain moments sing.
She slips into the bindings, adjusts the harness, the kite sail catches and she’s suddenly heading upwind. She tacks, jibes, tacks again, the kite urging her forward as she floats between cloud and wave.
They have hiked into the forest’s palette, are making their way along the muted trails. In the clearing, they drink it in: jade, russet, taupe, bleached bone.
His wet suit gleaming, he balances the longboard, waits. Then it comes, the long clear one, no crosscurrents or rips, and he rides it in straight, the Atlantic like plate glass glinting behind him.
The river curls like syrup through the salt grass. A red kayak with a white paddle, a yellow kayak with a blue, glide into the scene. The tide is burbling out to sea, bearing them with it, red and yellow bows on a blue-green ribbon.
Shallow baskets hang at their waists from twine loops. They stand shoulder-deep in leaves. One after another, lifted branches reveal the last wild blueberries of the season. They tap them onto their waiting palms.
Dusk. Light pours, liquid amber tinting the silver lake gold. From the terrace, they attend to the line where the reflection repeats in the shore itself, a folded painting.
She keeps this secret: a kettle pond cradled by a hollow. A path through a wild thicket. Nobody. Only a pair of ducks. She kneels at its satin surface. Beyond maples and oaks, one bent juniper.
Hunters have startled the deer our way. They leap past white pine onto the flats, their hooves staccato splashes, then they meld into brush. We remember how this morning they fed calmly by the fence, their withers brushed by mist.
Season open at last, they bend at the tidal fringe, pluck the fluted gifts, grey-white in the sand’s furls. They tote their buckets of bay scallops up the dune to the cottage, pour onto the table the Sound’s sweet bounty.
Having learned the back road, they take it. Miata’s top down, heat on, they downshift the curves past the empty beach, the shuttered ice-cream stand. In overdrive, they cruise from village to town, the sky a lapis bowl above them.
Beside the woodstove, sunk in burgundy wingbacks, they sip wine, read. Later, they stroll the half mile into town for bowls of lobster stew.
On their morning jog along conservation paths, they halt. Ahead of them a lean fox, a rabbit limp in its jaws. The fox silently leaps a low bush. As silently, it’s gone.
She arranges the gathered scallop shells in pairs, then stretches the strand of tiny lights between them. A dab of glue from the gun, then the shells’ edges pressed close. That night, she twines them along the mantle. In the dark, like opalescent pearls, they gleam.
Rime crusts the spartina. Three red berries on a black branch. A coyote lopes purposefully down the dirt lane, vanishes among cattails. Behind the window, we hold our mugs of cocoa closer to our hearts.
It’s dark when they leave the restaurant, sated by creamy chowder, oyster fritters, Indian pudding. There, across the pond in the moon’s lamp, a great blue heron attends to its own dinner, its neck a question mark of hunger.
They travel Old Kings Highway: Brewster, Dennis, Yarmouth, Barnstable. Along the way, the dark road offers as beacons tiny white candles sparking from each window.
She follows the bounding Border collies onto the sand-swept boardwalk down to Nauset Beach. He finds a driftwood chunk for them, drops it at her feet, quivering. They ply the broad strand for an hour. Nothing but the driftwood flung and the collie’s return of it, like the waves’ insistent passage out, then in again.
We park at Provincetown’s east end to walk the length of Commercial Street, to savor the shops’ blank faces, the ghosts of summer. Between the buildings — the harbor mast-less and slate-grey, like a waiting canvas. We travel the jog by the Coast Guard, pass Stanley Kunitz’s garden, as asleep at this blessed time as is the sleepy town.
He prefers the sunsets at First Encounter Beach this time of year. The hues are cool-toned, like the air. He photographs it through its stages, the seeping away of pastel tones. He imagines what the Pilgrims must have thought standing just where he stands now, his camera capturing their view.
The snow has begun to cling to the railing as they reach the Olde Inn, where the fire crackles and the musicians are warming up. With their Black and Tans in hand, they head for a bench. Soon, ancient Irish tunes fill the room.
They’re deep in the woods, drifts the color of pale blue cream. Their snowshoes creak and scrunch. She abandons her mittens, he his wool cap. Somewhere nearby snug in a hollow, a raccoon yawns.
She snaps into her bindings, poles down the slope onto the marsh frothed in snow. Near where she’d fished and kayaked the river, now she slips across pristine powder, the only sound the slick swish of her skis.
They crunch through hemlock to the moon-drenched pond, sweep its surface clear, lace their skates. Out on the ice, faint shadows flutter across the blades’ etched swirls.
Sometime in mid-February there’s a subtle shift and you know winter has eased its grip, that the pale sun is beginning to ripen on its journey north. It’s these fine mornings that await the cyclists. No breeze. A windbreaker zipped, then you’re on the trail. You pedal for miles between bare branches filled with promise.Back to Cape Cod Travel Guide Stories