Light blogging this weekend due to the holiday, a house full of teenagers, college application assistance for one of those teenagers, lots of kitchen time, and a persistently wrenched lower back which sends me to the muscle relaxants and long stints of lying on the floor.
Black-and-Blue Friday was spent as far away from the Temples of Mammon as possible, as family and dogs boated to the barrier island at the head of the harbor and marched from end-to-end in a little under two hours. I needed some soft sand trudging to help my back and the walk helped quite a bit. (If the back doesn’t sort itself out in 48-hours my travel schedule next week may be at risk since hotel beds are not helping this two-week old rowing injury solve itself.)
The walk was gorgeous following Thanksgiving’s rainy gale. Bluebird cloudless skies with a howling 35-knot breeze out of the north that drove the sand off of the dunes in whirling sand-devils. The dogs went into their usual pre-walk mania, wife and children were swaddled in layers of wool and fleece, and so off we set, the dunes to our left, Nantucket Sound to our right, down a beach remarkable for bearing absolutely no footprints save those of a Great Blue Heron which hopped ahead of us a safe 25 yards away, squawking its annoyance.
Dead Neck is a macabre name for a gorgeous, 2-mile long island that is home in the summertime to a population of nesting Arctic and Least Common Terns. It was formed from two islands — Sampson’s Island to the west at the Cotuit end, and Dead Neck to the east on the Osterville side. The main entrance to Cotuit Bay used to separate the two islands through what is now known as Cupid’s or Pirate’s Cove (my favorite place on the planet). One hurricane or major storm in the early 20th century closed that channel and married the two islands together. The inside, or harbor side is very tranquil and calm, and hence popular in the summer months for picnickers and swimmers. The outside is a lot more wild, with the surf audible here at my house on stormy nights. The interior is a great representation of coastal flora — beachplums, bayberry, cedars, and small copses of forest where all sorts of critters make their homes. The birds nest throughout the interior, so the Massachusetts Audubon Society fences those nests off in the late spring to keep the local foxes and coyotes (which swim across the Seapuit River) from wiping out the more endangered species like Piping Plovers.
An end-to-end walk seems like a rare thing and my wife remarked several times during yesterday’s march that we should walk it more often. Summer-time marches are hot Saharan affairs that involve crossing other people’s beach blanket turf. Late fall and winter walks are special events when you know there isn’t another soul sharing the place and the only footprints are your own.
A feeble effort to take a Christmas card photo failed when the eldest pointed out the utter cliche of such a pose. The annual taking of the photo (aka the “Afternoon of Tears”) is the low point of the holiday and this year the eldest is invoking his 20-year old status as an exemption from participation. Little does he know ….
The walk made us feel virtuous, wind burned, and entitled to multiple slices of left-over pumpkin and pecan pie. The dogs passed out, exhausted from the excitement and effort. I think this single walk will rank as the highlight of the holiday for me. With the weather forecast to be even better today and tomorrow, we may have to do a repeat.