Day Six: Last Day at the Sea

June 11

Papa,

I’ve only just started the Quartets, but yes, I hope to see the present here for what it is. I hope to do that every day, really. Dad asked me last night what I think about when I walk the shoreline, and I said,

“I feel like I should be thinking deep and profound things — poetic things. But I’m too busy looking at it all. Just watching it.”

In the looking is the seeing, I think, and in the hearing, too. Tonight, wrapped in a quilt again, I put my ear to the sand and listened to the sea sigh.


I found a happy thing this morning: an opening on the side of the Eldredge Public Library in Chatham. We thought it was closed since there were scaffolds and bucket trucks outside, but it wasn’t! And so I walked the shelves, running my hands along a hundred book spines. There was an upper balcony and a spiral staircase and little nooks full of books, divided by walls with old, green lamps.

Best of all, I found a glass case with merchandise inside — including the exact red ballcap I wear of Nanny’s.

Across the street was a thrift shop in the basement of a Methodist church, where Janaya and I found soft sweaters. My favorite room (there were a few, all heaped with knick knacks) held tables lined with teacups. 

A little white-haired lady with big front teeth checked us out. 

“Ahh, I always make sure my sweatshirts are never far away,” she said as she looked over ours. When she’d bagged everything, she said, “Have a nice day and enjoy this gorgeous weather! I know I’m going to. As soon as I’m done here, I’m going outside and I’ll stay out there.”

“Good idea,” I laughed. 


I’m now scarfing down nuts and popcorn after a hike down Race Point, toward the lighthouse, with the Atlantic rising and falling at our side. Seabirds flocked and cried as we neared them. A distant storm turned the horizon denim, and I gave thanks for that. It’s my favorite color the sky makes. 

We walked until our ankles hurt and sand filled our shoes. Then we walked some more, wondering how you ever covered forty miles of seashore. 

It will be hard to say goodbye to the sea, the sound, our cottage tomorrow. We’ll empty the place of our things and head to New York. But home’s calling.

I’m hoping to wake myself up early enough to see the sun rise over the sound.

Love,

b.j.

(P.S. I spent a bit of your money today on a daffodil-yellow Cape Cod sweatshirt that reminds me of Nanny.)


From: L.C. Melton

Sweetheart,

That was money well spent. Under her hat, you have honored the times and places there that Nanny loved so much. In so many ways it is her return to the Cape.


 I’ve been thinking today of mountains I’ve climbed

        and of the trails followed through wildernesses long ago;

of walking barefoot in the surf along dune shadowed shores,

        of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico.

I’ve had the honor to stand before the grandeur of the Niagara

        and I’ve been on mighty rivers glacier fed and icy.

I have and stood where the continent divides the waters 

        and tributaries in descent, seek the seas.

I have stood in the circle of elders on the Avenue of the Giants

        and marveled at old growth forest serenity.

I have followed the trails the immigrants made ‘cross the continent,

        from old world poverty seeking peace and prosperity.

I have stood where the Vikings first occupied Canadian shores

        to harvest timber for their colonies on Greenland,

and I have followed the trails the ancient Aztec took,

        to establish their floating city of Tenochtitlan.

I have watched birds build nests and butterflies emerge from cocoons.

        I have seen fish in great schools and bald eagles on the wing,

and migrating geese by the hundreds of thousands

        on their way North in the earliest spring.

It is gratifying to know you’ve seen these things too,

        or will before you are old.

And that you will also treasure these glorious sights

        that will someday form memories worth far more than gold.


Be safe tomorrow.

Much more love,

Papa


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.

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