Monday, January 26, 2015

Cape Cod Snow

Early 1970's Pictures of Henry Beston's "Outermost House" (above ) and Cape Cod from Personal Archives
Marcel Proust may have had the smell of madeleines, but many New Englanders have snow storms that tie memories together over the decades. Checking the radar feed directly may be new, as is making sure phones and computers are charged, but the experience of stockpiling wood, water, batteries, oil, food, and various emergency plans for selves and neighbors is not dulled for all of its familiarity.

Traveling through such weather creates its own forked imprint.  This trip to the Cape in the early 1970's included a visit to Henry Beston's house and subsequently weather that recalled if not matched some of what was described in his famous work.

“I woke in the morning to the dry rattle of sleet on my eastern windows and the howling of wind. A northeaster laden with sleet was bearing down on the Cape from off a furious ocean, an ebbing sea fought with a gale blowing directly on the coast; the lonely desolation of the beach was a thousand times more desolate in that white storm pouring down from a dark sky. The sleet fell as a heavy rain falls when it is blown about by the wind. I built up my fire, dressed, and went out, shielding my face from the sleet by pulling my head down into the collar of my coat. I brought in basket after basket of firewood, till the corner of the room resembled a woodshed. Then I folded up the bedclothes, threw my New Mexican blanket over the couch, lighted the oil stove, and prepared breakfast. An apple, oatmeal porridge, toast made at the fireplace, a boiled egg, and coffee.

Sleet and more of it, rushes of it, attacks of it, screaming descents of it; I heard it on the roof, on the sides of the house, on the windowpanes...

A scene of incredible desolation and cold. All day long I kept to my house, building up the fire and keeping watch from the windows...

For a mile or so offshore the North Atlantic was a convulsion of elemental fury whipped by the sleety wind, the great parallels of the breakers tumbling all together and mingling in one seething and immense confusion, the sound of this mile of surf being an endless booming roar, a seethe, and a dread grinding, all intertwined with the high scream of the wind. The rush of the inmost breakers up the beach was a thing of violence and blind will. Darkness coming early, I closed my shutters on the uproar of the outer world, all save one shutter on the landward side.

With the coming of night the storm increased; the wind reaching a velocity of seventy to eighty miles an hour. It was at this time, I am told, that friends on the mainland began to be worried about me...”

-Henry Beston,The Outermost House

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Out and About in January

1665 Graveyard turned Cemetery 

January can test any optimism.  According to the schedules of many, it is a month for ramping up productivity again, but the the environment seems to wants to give back very little in terms of encouragement.  The wind can feel not at our back, but in our face.

And yet...

It can be an especially quiet time to walk through and read the stones in old graveyards and cemeteries... 

...or not read.

This birder, as many do, shared a look through his powerful scope at not only the ruddy turnstones...

...but at the eight harbor seals as well.

Many cottages are empty.... are the country clubs.

The sky is at its bluest in January.

Restorations - Not Demolitions

Everywhere, people are out walking.

But there are fewer cyclists.


...for the nearby horses.

Pileated Woodpeckers...

...And Pond Hockey