Back to Raleigh to present budgets and proposals, back to Cotuit where spring is arriving and boat work beckons. A return to Raleigh the following week — very quick flipturn visit — then the balance in Cotuit.
No international stuff looming. Passport is getting a Brazilian visa, but nothing is on the books. I’ve confirmed vacation for the last two weeks of May to fetch daughter from her term in Italy.
Pretty pissed at Flickr (for a WHOLE lot of reasons I will not go into here) and their HP-enabled photo printing service Snapfish.
I ordered a poster-sized print of Paul Rifkin’s aerial shot of Cotuit Bay and the Kettleers playing at Lowell Park and got back a crap piece of work — colors off register (looked like it was whipped off on a crap ink jet printer) and most woefully, cropped with an axe losing the most interesting elements of the photo — the island at the top of the scene.
An utter waste of money. Serves me right for being lazy and not walking a local photoshop and getting it done right the first time. Avoid Snapfish.
update: Snapfish refunded me my cash via PayPal with no phone call required. Bravo to them for that.
Atlantic white cedar is the perfect wood for boat building and is difficult to find these days with the price to prove it. I have four enourmous planks in the old sail loft behind my bedroom, leftover from the days when my grandfather Chat built Cotuit Skiffs in the boat shop. The wood is all but rot-proof.
On Sunday I took my son and the dogs for a walk around one of the best examples of a cedar swamp on Cape Cod, the Almy Cedar Swamp in Cotuit off of Old Post Road. There aren’t many left and winter is the best time to explore. Here’s a link to a site with some good background information. Interestingly, they aren’t technically “cedar” but cypress swamps.
Cedar swamps are unique biotropes found along the east coast from Maine to Georgia. They are true swamps that support a species of tree that is more related to the cypress than the cedar. Chamaecyparis thyoidesis a pretty tree, a definite break for the eye after the typical scrub oak and pines that carpet Cape Cod. The habitat and growing conditions are so unique that I went most of my life without ever seeing a cedar swamp. A few years ago the Barnstable Land Trust and some local conservationists pulled out the stops to preserve a big tract of open space in Cotuit around Cordwood Landing. Included in the parcel was the Almy Cedar Swamp. This is what it looks like from the air — note the definite difference in the foliage.
The swamp isn’t easy to find. One walks north on a dirt road across from the Cordwood Landing way to water, across Old Post Road, and north towards Eagle Pond. A half mile in, on the right, is a hidden path down to the swamp. Winter is the best time to explore because the swamp is frozen and one can actually poke around among the trees. In the barreness of winter it is is strange to step into such a green and verdant space. The silence is amazing and the woods are cathedral-like.
The trees are very tall and seem, gauging from their girth, to be a few hundred years old. According to one scholarly paper, the Cape’s cedar swamps are less than 4,000 years old.
Walking around the swamp is very cool. The ice makes it easy to poke around the frozen peat and see the moss knobs around each trunk.
These were valuable trees back in the day, but some have survived because they are so difficult to extract from the swamps. It goes without saying the swamps are endangered, filled in, converted to cranberry bogs, or just dammed up and drowned. The largest is on the outer Cape near the Marconi station — it is 11.8 acres. I have no idea how big the Almy Cedar Swamp is — but know of at least two other smaller ones hidden around Cotuit.
While it’s tempting to wonder if anyone would care if I dragged a piece of deadfall out of the swamp to turn into a new skiff, I guess I should first check the condition of the planks in the sailloft. Cool to think the boat that defines Cotuit is made from wood logged from Cotuit’s swamps.
Over the Christmas holidays while visiting in-laws in San Francisco, I was invited to a party at a wine marker’s cave in the mountaintop town of Angwin, California. As we wound up the steep road my friend said, “This is a Seventh Day Adventist town and university.” We flashed past a big church, the campus of the Pacific Union College, and then on into the back roads to our destination.
Intrigued, I did some research on the religion. Here are the basics: an American denomination formed in the middle of the 19th century from the s0-called “Millerite” movement, and was formally organized in 1863 in Battle Creek, Michigan (remember Battle Creek), largely around the writings and vision of its prophet, Ellen G. White, a native of Gorham, Maine who wrote prolifically of her visions which began after she was hit in the face by a thrown rock while fleeing a 13 year old girl in Portland, Maine.
The Millerites were a group formed around 1850 in upstate New York who, based on a close reading of the Bible, predicted the Second Coming would occur in 1844. It didn’t. Again, I will spare you my borrowed pedantic knowledge and point you at the Wikipedia entry, which, as I assume with all Wiki entries, shares the input of the church, its members and officials and is as balanced a definition and history as you can find anywhere. The church is unique in several respects, notably the observance of a Saturday sabbath, a high proportion of vegetarians and abstemious practices, and a strong tradition of extroverted charity and public works from hospitals to higher education. Tithing is encouraged — more on that later — and church members do not join unions or other organizations aside from the church.
I believe there is only one Seventh Day Adventist congregation on Cape Cod. I live about five miles from the church on Route 28 in Osterville. It is a modest, contemporary structure set slightly back from the road in a stand of pine trees.
The parking lot was full — most churches seem to be enjoying strong attendance these days — and I entered the narthex along with a herd of young people dressed in their Sunday best. I was warmly greeted at the door, handed a program, and made my way into the main church hall where I took the customary back-pew-right-hand-side seat. As I settled in I put on my glasses to read the program but the temple piece fell off, victim of a lost screw. As I flustered around trying to fix the specs, a jovial man introduced himself, a local attorney who it turned out was also the church pianist. We talked for a few minutes, me explaining the purpose of my visit, he telling me about his beginnings as a Catholic. Before I could ask him about his conversion the pastor, Rev. Mark Gagnon introduced himself. The welcome was warm and effusive and I was made to feel right at home.
Another Cotuit-based week, the second in a row. Still heads down on budget and strategy for the fiscal year starting April 1, and preparing for another round of presentation next week in Raleigh.
Boston Tuesday night for a dinner with Digg
Wednesday – dinner in Rhode Island with a customer
Rest of the week focused on powerpoint — then down to Raleigh the following week to guest lecture at UNC’s Keenan-Flagler business school, executive presentations, etc.
Hey, American Airlines just made me Platinum, so now I have that going for me. …..
Saturday and the sun was beaming down and melting the grey snowdrifts. The boat looked lonely. I put the battery on a charger, emptied last season’s remaining gasoline into a jerry can, and refilled the tank with three gallons of new gas and a shot of ethanol treatment.
Backed up to the trailer, connected the hitch, and 500 yards later was backing down a snow covered ramp into Cotuit Bay. I pushed off with an oar, anchored in deeper water, and for three minutes coaxed the dormant Honda back to life with the choke and throttle. When I was 100 percent sure it wouldn’t fart out when I was in the middle of the harbor I came back into the beach, loaded the two terriers aboard, and took off for Dead Neck, the barrier island at the head of the bay.
As my son said when he declined my offer to accompany me, “You are only doing this so you can say you are the first to do it.”
That was not the motivation. Anyway, there is a simple thrill to doing this in February:
I anchored near Cupid’s Cove, the ancient inlet (now clamming cove) out to Nantucket Sound, careful to keep the boat off the beach so I wouldn’t have to push it off if the tide went out. I offloaded the dogs (who went into immediate mania and starting biting my boots) and satisfied the boat would be there when returned, headed off for a complete circumperambulation of the Island.
I brought a garbage bag and scavenged all the plastic I could find from the wrack line where the moon tides had deposited it. There was more man-made trash on the inside, bayside of the island, reflective of where the people are in the winter and where the prevailing northerly winds blow from
Around the Point of the island (which received a bit of a trim from the dredge this winter to widen the channel) and down the outside of the beach, flawless and without footprints, just the overwash signs of high tides and winter storms. After a half mile of walking with the wind in the sun I took off my coat. The trash bag was getting full. Halfway down the beach and I popped up on a dune to see if the boat was still where it was supposed to be. It was.
And onwards down to Osterville and the Wianno Cut, where the dredged spoils from the Cotuit end of the island were pumped to shore up the dwindling beach in front of Bunny Mellon’s house.
Without some beachgrass that too will wash away, thanks to the jetties built 100 years ago that now block the natural ebb and flow of the coastal sands. I sat down for a second, patted the dogs on the head, and then headed back towards the boat.
The dogs and I crossed the island at Cupid’s Cove, where some ice still lingered, and with our bag of trash made it back to the boat. Which was now riding at anchor in much deeper water than I left it. The solutions were:
a. undress , wade out, start boat, return to beach and get dressed again
b. take off boots and socks and attempt to roll jeans up above knees
c. just wade out, flood the boots, and climb aboard and then cruise back home at warp speed before hypothermia set in
I opted for plan C and soaked my self right up to the belt line. flopped into the boat, emptying the seawater out of the boots and onto my face. I was very happy to be the only person on the water at this point as an audience would not have been appreciated.
I phoned home, told my son to meet me at the ramp with the trailer, and fifteen minutes was back home in the shower.
So ended a good beach walk and motorboat ride in February.
I have a serious jones for a baseball game. How lucky am I to have this in my neighborhood? I knock off work early around 4 pm, walk barefoot or ride my bike to the ball park, buy a Moxie and a bag of peanuts, and for three hours get treated to the best amateur baseball in the world.
My neighbor Paul Rifkin shot this. Click on the picture for a larger version. He is a man of many talents and this is the best shot of the ball park, perhaps the entire town, I’ve seen in a long time.
Okay, I’ve had it. Four years of Blackberry and I really want a true smartphone. iPhone, Droid, Nexus — anything but this godawful enter-your-password Lotus Notes belching, horrible web browser, crippled App Store functionality Blackberry.
I need Global GSM. So that means T-Mobile or AT&T. I may downgrade the Blackberry to an email only device and move my cell number to an Android……
But which? I hate touch screens as I have sausage fingers. Droid is a Verizon product. …..