You know those visualization exercises where you’re supposed to conjure up a safe and happy place? Well, mine goes something like this: I’m walking through some obscure patch of woods on Cape Cod. No one is around. It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. I’m filled with peace. Then I see a small, unmarked trail and, after deciding to follow it, I stumble upon a perfect, people-free, undiscovered pond where I have a leisurely swim in waters as sweet as honeysuckle and as gentle and inviting as an old cotton t-shirt. So, that’s the pinnacle. That’s what I’m searching for when I incompetently bumble around these conservation lands, and national parks, and random patches of shaggy scrub pines. But, that happy place is pure fiction. What I tend to experience instead is a bit dirtier, more comical, and a lot less placid. It always involves mosquitoes, getting lost, getting found, and getting lost again, yet, sometimes, just sometimes, I get a brief encounter with the happy place I’ve settled on in my mind. And so it was yesterday, as I battled my way through the endless maze of trails in Punkhorn Parklands in Brewster. With my sneakers blackened by bog gunk, my dog about to collapse from dehydration (and resentment) and only the GPS on my iPhone to guide me, I found my way to that perfect pond, took a serene swim, and snatched a moment from time where my real matched my ideal. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Having Fun Outside’
In “Land’s End,” novelist Michael Cunningham’s must-read book about Provincetown, he writes,
Provincetown is, has always been, an eccentrics’ sanctuary…It is the only small town I know of where those who live unconventionally seem to outnumber those who live within the prescribed boundaries of home and licensed marriage, respectable job and biological children…Among strollers and shoppers [on Commercial Street] on a summer afternoon, it is not unusual to see, within a fifty-foot radius, all of the following: a crowd of elderly tourists who have come for the day on a tour bus or have disembarked from a cruise ship anchored in the harbor; a pack of muscle boys on their way to the gym; a vacationing mother and father shepherding their exhausted and fussy children through the shops; a pair of lesbians with a dachshund in a rainbow collar; two gay dads in chinos and Izod shirts pushing their adopted daughter in a stroller; a dread-locked and ostentatiously tattooed young woman who works at the head shop; a man dressed, very convincingly, as Celine Dion; elderly women doing errands; several closeted schoolteachers from various parts of the country who come to Provincetown for two weeks every year to escape the need for secrecy; several weary fisherman coming home from their stints on a scallop boat; a bond trader with three-hundred-dollar sandals up for the weekend from New York; and a brigade of furious local kids on skateboards, seeing how close they can come to the pedestrians without actually knocking one over, a stunt that is usually but not always successful.
Throughout “Land’s End,” Cunningham perfectly and lovingly captures Provincetown in all of its strange and glorious beauty. And I couldn’t help but think of the above description chronicling the rich and vibrant street life found on the town’s main drag as I walked along Commercial Street for an afternoon of window shopping and practicing the underrated art of loafing around.
Now, first let me discuss the limited scope of this blog post. The rich gallery scene, the vast cultural offerings, and the incredible night life will be not be included here. Each deserves its own space – and I will be sure to get to them soon. So, let this blog post act as just a dip of the toe into the ocean of things that can be said about Commercial Street. (more…)
The Cape Cod National Seashore waved their usual $15 beach entrance fees last weekend and the timing couldn’t have been better. After a rather chilly and wet summer, the weather has turned hot, hot, hot and I decided that there was no better way to cool off than to spend the day submerged in the bracing waters of the National Seashore. But settling on just one beach on such a perfect beach day simply wouldn’t do. So, yesterday I went to three out of the five beaches of the National Seashore (Race Point, Herring Cove, and Marconi) in order to conduct my own informal, unscientific survey of these incredible treasures. (more…)
For two short, perfect summer days, from August 14 to Saturday, August 15th, over a hundred sweet white tents full of arts and crafts will occupy the gently sloping park that surrounds the Cotuit Federated Church and the town library. It is the 39th Annual CraftFest in Cotuit – a compelling combination of local food, local crafts, and local performances. (more…)
We are thick into blueberry-picking season and I don’t know of any pick-your-own spot more beautiful than the one to be found at Taylor-Bray Farm – a gorgeous, 22-acre working farm in Yarmouth Port that dates back to 1639. I arrived at the farm early in the morning – tupperware in hand – ready to do some serious picking. As I walked the verdant fields toward the blueberry patch, with views of the Black Flat marsh stretched out ahead of me, I saw two cottontail bunnies hopping about and a multitude of swallows flitting and flying low along the grass. And then I saw the glorious blueberry bushes, standing at about 7 feet tall and heavy with both ripened and unrippened berries. Ah, yes, I thought. This is a perfect summer moment.
I got right into the patch, greedily picking all that my quickly working fingers could grab. My mind emptied and quieted. Much like a ninja (if a ninja picked his own fruit, which I’m sure he does), I was focused; I was quick; I was agile. As soon as my tupperware was full, I climbed into my car, my hands wrapped around my bounty. Then I looked at the time – an hour and a half had passed since I had arrived at Taylor-Bray Farm. Had it been that long? It only felt like a few minutes.
Ever since the 1940s, families have gathered during the warm summer months on the gently sloping green of Kate Gould Park to attend the Chatham Band Concert. From 8 to 10 p.m., on Friday nights only, forty band members ranging in age from teens to octogenarians, all dressed snappily is red and blue uniforms, squeeze into the bandstand with their instruments in hand. As dusk settles over the town, the bandleader turns to face the crowd and shouts, “Hi-De-Ho!” and the audience merrily replies, “Hi-De-Ho!” and it is that call and response which begins every Chatham Band Concert, a tradition beloved by generation after generation. (more…)
I ask you to picture this: A Connecticut couple drive their shiny new white convertible Corvette to Cape Cod for a romantic week-long getaway. They are young, healthy, and beautiful. They are on vacation. Life is good. The woman, a bit on the outdoorsy side, suggests taking part in a lovely canoe ride along the bay and estuaries of Orleans. It’s something she’s read about in one of her guidebooks. “It’s organized by the National Seashore, led by a couple of rangers and everything,” she says. The man, slightly less interested, eventually gives in and agrees to go. “It’ll be fun – a new adventure,” she says, trying to be light and encouraging. But once they arrive, and find themselves surrounded by other anxious-faced tourists, then forced to wear musty life vests, and sign a consent form ensuring some (forever unknown and invisible) entity that, yes, they have listened to all the safety precautions recited by the ranger, it becomes clear to the woman that this is not exactly what she imagined. She looks worriedly over at the man, hoping he won’t hold this misstep against her. He looks back, stone-faced and unsmiling. And then, as if to further aggravate what seems to be an already unfortunate situation, the ranger informs the couple that, due to the size of the group (17 people) and the number of canoes (6), they must take someone else in their boat. “Oh, great,” they both say to themselves, silently. The ranger then points to a strange creature – dressed in all black, visible white streaks of poorly applied sunscreen (of some mercilessly high SPF, they are sure) covering her pale arms, a baseball cap obscuring her face. “You take her,” the ranger says to the couple. The creature lifts her head and wanly smiles at them. And so, dear reader, I must admit the sad truth to you. The strange creature in this tale is me. Cast in this romantic love scene as the unwanted outsider. The third wheel in a canoe. The odd man out. (more…)