Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Notes from the Fog

Today the rain flew across the landscape in sheets, and my dear friends Don and Marie, who have been visiting me here in this Cape Cod cottage, had to drive home in it.  

After they left in a splash of puddles, I took advantage of the rainy afternoon to work on an art quilt. I decided I'd keep an eye on the weather and try my luck at around 5 p.m., when the tide would be going out and there would still be enough light to see it.  Instead, I saw my chance at 4:30, when the rain stopped briefly but the sky still glowered.  I put on a raincoat and drove through the fog to my favorite beach, First Encounter. I couldn't get in.

Plan B: Boat Meadow beach, a mile or so down the road. Boat Meadow is similar to First Encounter in that both beaches feature running water flowing into Cape Cod Bay. That confluence makes for a constantly changing landscape.

I would love to show you a map that shows both beaches and the streams that feed them, but I lack the technical skills.  Instead I'll provide this link to Google Maps and hope it works.,-69.9989884,13z

If you can open this link, look at the left, or west, side of the Cape, on the Bay, and see the two little creeks that empty into it.  First Encounter Beach, fed by Herring Brook, is on the north, and Boat Meadow is the one to the south.

At Boat Meadow, the beach encompasses the mouth of this creek where it joins the Bay.

It's supposedly a public, town-administered beach, complete with a public boat launch, but it didn't look very public to me, tucked away on a road that advertised that it had no outlet.  And how about this little home? 

And this little place below?

 Still, what a view down there.  What a lovely spot.

As I walked down the beach, I noticed dozens of small twittering black and white birds swirling around in the sky.  Here's a video, and if I've failed to download it properly I apologize:

And what should you expect to see in a place called Boat Meadow other than boats?

And how about this boat, below?  I don't know what kind of a boat it is, but it sure looks utilitarian.  It's a man's man's boat, and the man's man who pilots it has an unfiltered cigarette between his teeth and grease on his pants.

And how about these berries and this foliage, which I noticed growing along a low fence?  The leaves remind me of those of Virginia creeper (parthenocissus quinquefolia).  I believe that's what it is, but who can tell me for sure?  And how about those colors?

I love the color contrast of the two below.  I can identify one of them, beach pea, by the blue green color of its compound leaves.  The other plant is a toughie that creates these spiny pods about an inch long.  Who knows what that is?

And how about the colors of these plants, below?  I believe they're glasswort (salcornia).  I'm charmed that they turn red in the fall.

See this guy? He had the thickest Boston accent in the universe.  He said he'd just come out because the rain had let up for a few minutes.
He said he had to get out. Otherwise he'd go crazy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Going Outside my Comfort Zone: Not so Bad if Ice Cream is Involved.

I did something new and different today.  I drove to Wellfleet and hoofed it around town on footmobile, approaching galleries to see whether they were interested in my work.   This activity took me well outside my comfort zone.

I'll tell you what happened, but first I have to build up to it.

To fortify my courage, I started out at First Encounter Beach, a place that never fails to inspire and soothe me.  This morning, the tide was high and one swimmer braved the water in a wetsuit.  She told me that she was swimming in honor of her birthday and that the water temperature was in the sixties.  She pronounced it refreshing.

When the tide is that high, the waters of Herring River and Cape Cod Bay met with exuberant clash, waves sparkling and ripples rippling.

My Wellfleet adventure still awaited, but meanwhile, as long as the tide was high, I decided to see some of the marshes in their glory.

Boat Meadow Marsh
Herring River marsh

After fortifying myself with these soothing and inspiring sights, I drove to Wellfleet Center, parked the car, and visited five galleries, showing them samples of my work on the quilt gallery section of this blog.

Here's a photo of one of the galleries I visited today.  My reception in the galleries ranged from noncommittal to polite to interested.  One owner was intrigued by my alternative media:  felting and art quilting.  To arouse intrigue in a gallery owner, I think, is a good sign.

I gathered cards and took notes.  My next steps will be to follow up.

To reward myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone, I promised myself an ice cream bar from the Wellfleet Market.

Unfortunately, individual ice cream bars did not seem to be available there this afternoon, so I went to Ben and Jerry's in North Eastham.

And then, having treated myself, I went--where else?--back to First Encounter, where the tide was now mostly low.

More than anything, I noticed patterns this time. 
In this one, the ripples seem to be negative and positive images of one another.

This one, and the one below, remind me of the designs on classic pillars.

This one reminds me of stadium seating in miniature.

This one and the one below:  Could be anything.  Fabulous color and texture.

As I slogged through the sand, which was so full of water that in places it buried my feet to the top of my insteps, I heard bells ringing from the tower in the photo below.  The time was about 6 p.m., half an hour, give or take, before sunset.  It was a moment of solemnity and quiet grandeur.

The tower belongs to the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical Christian community, based in Orleans, that lives according to the Benedictine rule.

As I traveled toward the main beach, I saw that folks had gathered to watch the sun set.  For the most part, they were a quiet bunch.

These folks had a pretty sweet setup.

And the scenery was sublime.

I think everyone agreed on that.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

How Paranoia Gave Way to Peace

I started this evening tinged with paranoia: I'm more alone at this moment than I have been in a long, long time, cold bone lonely alone, without family, without dogs, and with the only neighbor tucked away behind dunes and trees.

The neighbor is a lovely man.  Already, he's diagnosed and fixed a broken toilet for me, here in this rental cottage high on a dune overlooking Cape Cod Bay.  Yes, he'll be here to fix things, but will he hear me if I fall on the vertiginous staircase leading down the dune to the bay, hit my head, and die?

The possibility that I could fall on that staircase is freaking me out:  after all, I already have a smorgasbord of back conditions that increase that likelihood.  And I did fall, a few days ago, in Brooklyn, New York, my forearm bearing my weight as I pitched forward, resulting in a fracture to the end of the radius of my right arm, and causing pain, instability, and reduced use of the arm.  Thanks to Sue Kinney. M.D. for pointing out that I originally stated, in error, that I had broken my tibia, which is a bone in the leg.  I was just trying to see whether anyone was paying attention.

Increasing my sense of aloneness, not even my two dogs are here with me tonight.  They went home with Joe because, after experimenting with them this afternoon, I decided that handling both of them with one arm was dauntingly scary.

So Joe drove off with the dogs, leaving me alone. Sure, friends and family have been here with me most of the time, but there are a few gaps between visitors, so I've been alone for a day or two at a time.  Aloneness is different here in this cottage, though. When I'm alone at home, people drive by, dogs bark, mail gets delivered.  There, the presence of others is part of the environment. Here, the environment, while magnificently scenic, is marked by the absence of others.

With a vague paranoia stewing away in the back of my mind, I did what I always do when I'm staying in this cottage:  I drove to First Encounter Beach to see the confluence of the Herring River with Cape Cod Bay at low tide.  It felt strange to walk those sandy paths without the dogs bounding along beside me.

As I trudged through the beach grasses, still feeling strange, I had a song going through my head.  Does that ever happen to you?  For me, today, it was True Colors, the song originally made popular by Cyndi Lauper.

 I see your true colors shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you

It's in my head because my daughter Julia sang it on Yom Kippur a few days ago.

With her voice in my mind, I emerged onto the shore of the river into a scene which I don't hesitate to describe as sublime.

The sight of it started replacing the cold bone loneliness and the paranoia with something calmer. Seeing that sculpted sand, I remembered why I want to be here: to absorb the beauty of this place  and let it lift up my spirit all year long, sustaining me through another New England winter as I transform these images of late summer into art.

With Julia's voice in my mind, I understood that here, my true colors come through. That's why I'm here.

Paranoia started giving way to peace.

As I continued along the sand,

I noticed a few other people.  One man  and woman, seated on a bench, seemed to be praying.  Others gathered to watch the sun go down.  There was so much silence among the people on the beach.

With the sunset reflected in the shallow water on the sand, it was a heaven on earth moment. Despite my essential loneliness in the solitude of this cottage, here at First Encounter I felt the companionship of others, an unexpressed community, one of shared awe and appreciation of the subtle magnificence of nature.

And that's how paranoia gave way to peace.