Monday, October 19, 2009


“What tastes gritty in your mouth is time” or is it just the sand in your sandwich at the beach. The wind blown particles so small as not to be noticed until you begin to chew. As a child I decided: why chew, just mush it around and swallow. I never liked sand in my sandwiches or grit in my mouth then or now.
What I did love was the bites of time spent on Cape Cod’s sandy beaches. After I graduated from high school, my parents and I would spend a week’s vacation every summer at Brewster, then later at Wellfleet. My grandmother’s quiet brogue questioned us. “Why go all the way up there. Its nothing but flat sand and scrub trees.” I suspect that comment reflected her hurt that we didn’t spend my Dad’s vacation time with her at the family summer cottage on Crystal Lake. All the weeknights and weekends spent at the lake were somehow nullified by our yearly week at the Cape.
Why did we go to the Cape? These vacations did not start when I was a young child. I was seventeen when I worked the summer of 1965 at an Inn on the Cape. My cousin Nancy preceded me at the Brewster Inn, a modest form of nepotism. The summer job and my Uncle Blake’s enthusiasm, that’s what, first brought us to the Cape with our trusty sailfish tied to the roof of the family Rambler.
My parents started trying “new things” when I was in high school. Sailing was the first in a line of these new activities. So many times we were dumped into the water by an unforgiving gust of wind on the small lake where the summer cottage was. Tricky wind conditions combined with inexperience lead to many a nautical roll over numbering in the thousands. As our confidence grew, we sought new challenges, new horizons and new waters to sail.
My Uncle Blake introduced us to sailing at the Cape. My parents rented a cottage that summer while my Uncle and Aunt camped at Nickerson State Park. It was love at first sight. Did the Pilgrims feel that way? All that sky with no interruptions... seemingly endless. The salt water intrigued us with so much to explore when the tides went out. The mud flats revealed treasures for the picking with crabs resting below the surface in the damp sand. Did the Pilgrims go barefoot and leap upon being pinched?
As for the vast sky, I suppose the Pilgrims saw enough to last a life time on their trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Moving off the Cape they sought land that would be better suited to live on, not flat sandy expanses with scrub trees dwarfed by storm winds.
But for us, every summer after the first one in Brewster brought us back like the swallows to Capistrano. My poor grandmother did not understanding the pull of the tide on our beings. Our relationship was deeper than most parents and a daughter: three adventures marveling at the early morning sun across the shallow bay waters, walking the mud flats feeling the pull or push of the tide, sailing the bay’s expanse, listening to the cries of the seabirds or watching the night sky while curled up in blankets to ward off the salt air chill.
Our eyes searched the endless blanket of stars overhead while the rhythmic sounds of the waves upon the shore filled our ears. Our souls became one with the infinite universe. The sand beneath us, each particle ground down from ancient rock from the corners of the world, was filled with mystery. Sand brought by wind and sea to rest upon a constantly shifting arm that stretched out toward the ocean as far as the eye could see. Sand like a living entity in constant movement; under our feet, in our hair, imbedded in our clothes ... everywhere you looked sand, water and sky. The vastness and timelessness opened us up to new possibilities.
For months after the vacation, the sand remained with us. No matter how many times the car carpet was vacuumed it still worked its way up and out. Reminders of three adventurers bound together in life, not immortal but for a length of time ... a life not without grit but with limitless possibilities.

emm 4/17/98

No comments:

Post a Comment