THE CREATIVE LIFE: CAPE COD
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June 15, 2020 by Kathleen Brunelle
Two Cape Cods
Growing up year round on Cape Cod is a unique experience. I originally published this blog as an article in Cape Cod View.
There are still places on the Cape that, in the winter, are virtual ghost towns. The wind sifts in and out of the grey-shingled beach houses and lingers on the cheeks of those who remain. Boards crisscross the windows and beckon the sea with quiet understanding. The general stores and beach arcades plant their foundations and wait for the next summer season. The houses, which are speckled with multicolored buoys and little signs that read “Summer Retreat” or “Grandma’s House”, are unoccupied for miles. Little blue rowboats rest overturned on the marshy shores of empty harbors.
Every mile or so, there will be the twinkling of civilization. Usually, these houses belong to elderly couples and their Irish setters, basset hounds, or golden retrievers. They collect wooden sculptures of peg–legged captains and go for meaningful walks. They take spring-time swims in flip-flops and bathing caps. They are vigorous and generous.
And then there are the children — the winter children who grow to love two Cape Cods. The winter child longs for the company of her summer playmates, yet relishes the silence of a still ocean, her ocean. For the rippling puddles of sea, the crumbling beach walls and the cool sand belong to her as surely as do her fingers or her nose. And with the summer, she laments the loss of what was only hers. Understandably, she doesn’t want to share, for she knew solitude, she knew simplicity and for a moment, in the cold winter air of the ocean surf, she knew the meaning of life. No summer child can ever know this secret fully.
And then, with the coming of Memorial Day, the winter child forgets and learns to adapt.
The summer children rush in with their bicycles and sailboats. They buy penny candy, take swimming lessons, and carve their names into the tables at the arcade. Their freckled and dark faces change with each season. They grow taller and bolder. And each year the winter and summer children learn to know each other again, almost as if the winter had never passed.
There are the staple summer children, the ones whose parents can afford summer homes. They are almost like winter children, permanent fixtures of the neighborhood landscape. A winter child will walk from house to house in December thinking, “There is the Fitzgerald’s house and there is the Glassman’s House.”
Each summer there are renters. These children stay for a week or two and never come again. Yet who can forget that when we are young, little bonds are formed in surprisingly short spans of time.
And with the falling leaves of late September, the beach mothers fold their chairs and put away their one-piece bathing suits with the big flowers and collect their orange buckets of fragile yellow shells. They top their station wagons and jeeps with trunks and bikes and hook up their boats and are gone.
And the winter child is left alone and sad and pining for the twilight — until that first conversation with a cool fall ocean feeds her soul again.