I took this picture a few weeks ago, from the Bay beach down the road from where I live. There it was. A gorgeous sunset, fading into a darkened sky with a quarter moon rising.
I live in a beautiful area in Cape Cod, Ma. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s along the northeast coast of the U.S. and I’m only 1/10th of a mile to the beach. It’s about a 4-5 minute walk and if you’re from New York City, we could shave off another minute or two.
I’m in one of the three towns referred to as the outer cape, which is closest to the tip. That is, the edge of land, just before it dives off into the sea. If you look at a map, you’ll notice how thin the strip is from Wellfleet to Provincetown.
There’s not much room between the ocean and bay. I can often hear the ocean on the bay side, especially at night. The beach is plentiful with oysters, which I don’t like, even though they’re famous throughout the east coast and perhaps the country. I never took a survey. Clams are more challenging and harder to find, because you have to dig. I never seem to find any. Of course I like them. Clam chowder, Clam sauce with pasta, both red and white, Clams casino, baked stuffed, fried. You name it.
What strikes me most about this area, is the natural beauty. I see foxes all the time, especially in the off-season. It scared the hell out of me the first year I was here. After several conversations with the animal control officer, I found out there was no rabies here, so now when they cross my path, I welcome it. This year they are gorgeous. Probably a result of the mild winter, which made it easier to find food.
I talk to them and the birds and chipmunks and squirrels. I know, some of my city friends might think I’m crazy. But most of them understand me.They know how much an animal opens my heart. They have much better intuition than we do. Society breeds it out of us by middle school, when we’re taught to think and rationalize. Feelings are often suppressed and gut instinct is taken lightly. It’s too bad really. We’re born with instinct for a reason. I wish somewhere in the curriculum we were encouraged to keep it and use it more.
Animals know when it’s safe and when they are threatened. They usually stop and look at me. They are now often out mid-day and the animal control officer here said they’ve changed their schedules. They have learned to work around us. Construction goes on during the day, especially from early spring to late fall. So now, they can’t sleep during the day with all the noise. They probably got migraines with all the damn banging. They’ve adapted. Now they sleep at night, much like we do.
The evening sky is black. There are no street lights here, so I always carry a flashlight. The path to my house is lined with solar lights that my neighbor calls the airport. Hey, I’m a former city girl, What does he expect ? The advantage to the darkness is that the sky is incredible. A thousand stars break through and although I often get confused about the constellations, I still try to figure them out. I keep promising myself an astronomy course. But for now, I can watch a night sky for an hour. No light show, really. Just the magnificence of blinking stars, in their natural rhythm.
I now know the names of many different birds. I watch them at the feeders I fill each day. My first year here, I had a Flicker woodpecker and they’re beautiful. Larger than the Downey. I would study it from the window, as I sipped coffee a short distance away. I watched as it turned itself upside down and hung on the suet tray. My head would explode if I was ever in that position for so long. Did you know a Goldfinch doesn’t look like a Goldfinch over the winter ? I didn’t. The yellow is so dull, it fades into the fold of the feathers. Come spring, the vibrancy of color, screams from the belly.
This is a wonderful place to write. The environment quiets the soul. It is conducive to read, think, feel the calm and peace. I walk outside and the air inhales me. I exhale it back. But at times, in the midst of Winter, it can feel isolated. We are miles from grocery stores, let alone a shop of any kind. Until the Spring, when doors open and dust evaporates from the shelves. In the interim, for us year round people, we can always consider shopping at the small, privately owned food market in the village. You will leave paying a portion of a mortgage. Natural eggs are $7.00, so you have to really think how badly you want them, or how deep your pockets are.
The cost of living in the midst of beauty is high. But even if I go broke, I’ll never regret it. I’d never trade in this time of turning inward, becoming more reflective and introspective. I’d never reverse how much I learned about fixing things and painting and figuring things out myself. There were times I felt insanely challenged and tested. There were times I became frustrated that no one was around to help. But.. in the end, I found out how much I could do, how methodical I can be, how stimulated my brain has become by re-wiring it, when it got used in ways it hadn’t before. I had to figure out things, I hadn’t a clue about before.
But I did it. I feel empowered. I feel smart. I have pushed the envelope in ways I never could have perceived. My friends thought I’d last a few months at most out here alone. It’s been 3 years and I’m good. In fact, I’m great. There’s only one problem. There’s little employment opportunities. There’s very little industry to sustain a steady income. This is predominantly a seasonal industry. So that’s the next big hurdle. I have to figure out a way to stay. Ideas ?