My lips and face are chapped, my hair stringy, and my legs sore from bracing myself against the railing of the Whale Watcher ship. We motored out of the harbor and skipped the waves toward Provincetown. We weren’t prepared for the wind (10 knots or so) that filled up our ears. It stiff-armed us.
The boat slowed in the bay across from the lighthouse on Race Point, and we got our first snatches of a young whale blowing and diving. The naturalist on the loudspeaker called him “a little guy.” Joel, Trent, Janaya, and I shouldered to the very front of the boat, where photographers huddled and cradled their long cameras.
When we left the bay to “stick our nose in the Atlantic,” the crowd petered out, giving us room to scoot to the very bow of the ship, where the wind roared and waves rushed beneath us. I peered over like Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The whales made my heart beat faster as they puffed, curled their backs, and slipped away — twice flicking their beautiful tails behind them (and the people around me thus clapped and oohed).
But strangely, the ship, the sea, and the people are what I think I’ll remember — the men with their cameras and ladies with their hoods drawn tight and the young boy who stood beside me at the bow. I rode the entire way back to the harbor in that balcony, trying to keep my sunglasses on, watching the sun turn the waves to silver corn rows.
Now, it’s another pink night on the sound. My fingers are cold. Trent’s flying a kite up in the winds — or, down in the crabgrass. Janaya and I are wrapped in a quilt.
God is kind.
And to quote The Four Quartets that I brought along (and which is giving me a wonderful whiplash):
“All time is eternally present.”
From: L.C. Melton
And I reply from Burnt Norton II: “at the still point, there the dance is.” My favorite concept from the poems is the eternal present. You seem to be enjoying being there. Focused. Taking it all in. Sort of freezing time and condensing it.
What a privilege to invade the sea and meet the leviathan in its element. For something that large to be so elegantly graceful in a dive with the courtesy of a wave goodbye as it disappears, is an unforgettable sight.
How can anything so immense
be so gracefully elegant?
Performing a behemothian ballet
in a grand oceanic danseur display,
across a vast aquatic stage
then wave-bounding straight away
against the stern to disappear
and then in disguise to reappear
in a leviathan encore a seaward audience pleads for more
and then at the bow to raucous raves,
a final dive with a full-fluked wave.
All my love,
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.