After dinner at a pizza place last night, we drove to Saquatucket Marina and walked the docks. We’d eaten outside, and during dinner, a thick fog had come low over the Cape and shrouded the line where sea meets sky. Darkness fell with it, and in the dull, gray light, the spires of sailboats stood silently. Here and there, a boat creaked or water lapped its sides, but all else was deathly still and cold.
We thought an all-day rainstorm might be hiding somewhere behind the fog, but this morning, we woke to sun slanting in through the cottage door and across the floors.
Late afternoon found us (at long last) with all America behind us and the Atlantic rushing up around our ankles — the National Seashore of all your pictures and poems. Dunes rose behind us. Seawater stretched before us, and it felt like ice. When I walked back up the beach, my legs throbbed, but somehow, I worked my way down into the waves, sucking in sharp breaths. I let the water bear me up.
The sun was swept over by clouds and the breeze made us shiver… so we ran. Dad drew a line in the sand and we practiced long jumps. He and Trent skipped rocks. We swam until we shook and then laid out on a quilt to read. I walked the seashore wrapped in a towel, just watching the ocean come toward me, curl, then burst open in foam.
We saw the sun set over the sound, which lies at the end of our street and through a hole in the trees that reminds me of the Wardrobe in the way it translates us from an old neighborhood to a wide open world. I wore my sunhat and read as I walked the shoreline.
My eyes are tired, and my hands still smell like moss and cockles.
Thank you for sending that poem. I loved it more than I could have before, because now I can see the hanging baskets and smell the smoke. I noticed stairs down to the “Lion’s Den” which I think was a tavern, but it was closed. I would’ve liked to go down into it.
From: L.C. Melton
We ate several times in the old Lion’s Den Tavern. It is as the name implies: a subterranean den and a generally rowdy place after 8pm, but the appetizers are worth the smell of beer and expensive wine. I have never had anything quite like them. Even Nanny would trespass into the forbidden place for the food!
I attached a long piece I wrote this morning to send to the Red Lion Inn in a little book with your pictures. They will remember you being there.
I’m glad you saw our beach at Ridgevale and the view from old Chatham Light. Nauset Beach is still so amazing, and I’ve skipped many a rock there myself. In fact, the rocks John was skipping today may be ones I once threw that washed back! It looks like part of the seashore was empty of people. That won’t be the case on the weekend. It will be wall-to-wall beach towels and sunburned skin.
To see two awesome places in four days is quite a feat. It looked like the ocean was pretty calm today. But as you look out, the next land due east would be the Azores and then Portugal… about 2,400 miles.
Have a great day tomorrow.
Red Lion Innkeepers
You are probably called Inn Keepers
who welcome and comfort your guests.
seeking repose in that historic old Inn
enjoying its beauty and rest.
There are probably unusual problems
that seem always to assail,
and they likely cause consternation
but Inn Keepers always prevail.
So, let me tell you a story
for I have a message I’d like to send
and I hope you find it uplifting
for you are more than the hostel you tend.
My wife and I first discovered your Inn
more than fifty years ago,
on our first trip to New England
we were young then, and so
over the years we returned to stay
and experience the historic ambience
and walk the galleried hallways
during our travel transience.
A favorite pastime on our visits
was to take tea on the sloping old porch
and as evening turned to nightfall
the old stone church bells rang forth.
Then from inside a small sideroom
wafted notes from the old burled grand
filling the Inn with its music,
and then something magical began.
We would sit on that porch for hours
as a talented pianist performed
old standards and classical canons
and we were all amazingly charmed.
Between the old porch columns
that symmetrically braced the portico
I remember the old Red Lion sign
with it’s diminutive golden “o”
When the evening finally was over
we would take the old circular stairs
and wind our way up to our quarters
giving thanks that we were again there.
For all the years they’ve been living,
my grandchildren were always amazed
by our tales of rocking on the old Inn porch
listening to the piano beautifully played.
Rockwell’s print “Main Street at Christmas,”
hung over our fire place, dear to our hearts,
and grandchildren assembled the old village
at Christmas on our living room hearth.
Now I sit here fifty years later
alone with my dear memories
as my grandchildren visit the Red Lion Inn
knowing what it still means to me,
They phone with exuberant excitement
to tell me that where they now stand.
they are taking turns with each other
playing that grand old Steinway Grand.
I don’t have to be there to hear them,
I’ve heard them play all of their lives.
So I sit here wistfully listening
Remembering days spent there with my wife.
So you see, you are not just keepers of an Inn,
you are all that and so mush more,
for you are Enablers of Memories
and that’s a noble title to have on your door.
So on days when absolutely everything
just seems to be going all wrong
remember this old man’s story
as your pianist plays an old love song.
Every day when you hear the piano
remember how the Inn enriches our lives
for as I heard my grandchildren playing there
I was back on the porch with my wife.
The Cape Cod Letters are a series of emails between my grandpa Larry and I, written during my family’s trip East in June. Papa Larry took 30 trips to Cape Cod in his life, but this was my first, so I wrote home about it. I’m sharing these letters each Thursday on my blog this summer.