Dispatches from the Field: Cape Cod Interlude, Part I

August 18, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I come to the Cape at the time of the year when the sparrows start to flock. They crowd into the tangle of beach rose and trumpet vine along the roadside and chirp their little heads off. Early morning is best for catching them in the act. That is when the light is good, too, but I’m rarely as motivated as the birds and settle for hauling my painting gear off to some picturesque spot by nine or ten to try to capture the heat and washed out grass and sand. Sketch in oils of Pleasant Point Landing from the beach. Wellfleet, Massachusetts.Sketch in oils of Pleasant Point Landing from the beach. Wellfleet, Massachusetts.A hot sunny day, but with a cool breeze.

Everyone is fascinated by The Artist on The Cape. We are shore birds doing something extraordinary, to be approached slowly. We continue to paint, as we should, and we will answer questions and take compliments with patience and gratitude. Ask us - it’s actually pretty great to be out here. We are lucky. Every brush stroke is hard-won, but who can complain when the shade is so delightful and you are outside and you are painting.

Thus the morning is spent. The afternoon is left for eating lunch, lounging, napping, touching up a previous day’s painting, and waiting for the tide to be right. Then there is sailing and kayaking to be done, followed by dinner preparation and cooking with the family. Evenings are for conversation and stargazing. One day sets the tone for the next.

My husband’s family has been coming to Cape Cod on and off for decades. Many of his ancestors trace back to parts of the Cape, with a few sea captains in the mix. I never set foot on this side of the canal until I met Stu, but now it is a regular part of our summers. It is good to come back to the same place, see many of the same faces, and move through the same rituals each year.

One of these rituals used to be puzzling over the apples. There is a small hill, beside the roadside where the sparrows hang around. Somewhere up the road is an apple tree which I have never seen. It took several years to realize that the apples at the bottom of the hill were not left there by some delinquent fruit vandal. They were just falling off the tree and rolling into view.

That is the type of question asked on the Cape. Where did those apples come from? Should I go for a swim? Perhaps I’ll just lie here and do nothing at all.


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