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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breathing: Postcard from North Eastham

Breathing the fresh clean air here on the Cape. Filling my lungs and my mind and my heart.

Thinking of Dad a lot...Sis and I both remembering him, his funny expressions, the things he did.

Today was so pretty. Sis and I took a long walk on Nauset Light Beach with Sug, while Don sat up by the lookout at the top of the tall wooden staircase that leads to the sand. We saw a black seal in the waves. With his white beard and boat shoes, Don looked like an old sea captain, and many people stopped to talk to him. He was in fact quite a sailor in his day, once even racing to Bermuda from Newport, Rhode Island. [When Figgy was little and we were here on the Cape, I made up bedtime stories about two seals named Willy and Nelly and their daughter, Jelly. And many times, she'd pretend she was a baby seal in the back seat when H. and I were driving home to New Jersey. We had to act surprised to discover her there, and explain what we would do if we really found a talking baby seal in our car. I'm not sure what we said, but probably that she must miss her parents, and shouldn't she go back near the water?]

Then I biked to the general store to get a quart of local ice cream, carrying it home in the wicker basket on my handlebars. I walked Sug around the neighborhood, and popped in to say hello to a couple of our neighbors.

After that, we drove to Chatham! Such a storybook town by the sea. We parked at the beach across from the lighthouse--so lovely. We went into the Lilly Pulitzer store, where Sis bought a top on sale. I didn't buy anything, but loved drinking it all in. Then we were wined and dined by Don, who treated us to a really nice meal at the Wild Goose Tavern. I had Sea of Love, I think it was called: scallops, shrimp and lobster sauteed in garlic and oil and served over pasta--plus a glass of crisp Riesling and a slice of chocolate layer cake that we shared for dessert. I've been wanting to try that place for a while, and it was really good.

But enough of all that. The elephant in the room is our family home on the Cape. Dad is gone. The home now belongs to his estate, which is being settled. My brother Will hopes to buy the house. But if he doesn't, it will likely be sold, since H. and I can't afford another mortgage, and Sis and my older brother don't want to hold onto the place. And if Will does buy it, he will likely rent it out, and I will not be able to come and go as I please, as I have basically always done, with few exceptions.

It's been a part of my life for 32 years, ever since my parents bought the land and had it built. It's always been a part of Figgy's life. I can't imagine losing it. I think it's the simple things I love the most: the old bike pump in the garage, the two 1960s bikes Will and Nadia bought, the cheery red kitchen wallpaper, the timeworn beds and blankets. But it's more than that--it's the dream my parents realized, the frugal way they lived to save money to make that dream come true. There's a lesson in that house, and a lot of love. And also the enormous, generous gift of a vacation home in a place at the edge of the earth, with sand dunes and windmills and kettle ponds and seals. Cape Cod. I guess I have been spoiled--I know I have been spoiled.

Sugar is with me in the car as I sit balancing my laptop on the steering wheel in a lonely parking lot outside Ben & Jerry's, where I can get WiFi. She's restless and ready to leave. She is competing with this laptop to sit on my lap. Gotta go. Good night.

  1. Fresh-air walk with Sis and bike ride alone.
  2. Lots of water.
  3. Good rest.


  1. I love to think of you at the Cape. Your writing from there is always lighter and soul-restoring to me to read because your happiness shines through. It must be really hard to face the possibility of losing your special place. But something to think about: the Cape itself will still be there. It will become harder to arrange, but you will be able to go back. And clearly its not just the house you love - I feel like I know the library and the Chocolate Sparrow, for example.

    When my mother sold her house I thought I would lose my homeplace forever. I've been back twice since then, and there will be more trips. The water is still there, even as friends and businesses evolve to new forms. So just keep the connection in your heart, and remember there is an actual physical place there as well.

  2. Hi Nan. Thanks so much for the thoughtful note. I love that you feel like you know the Sparrow and the library! I like what you said about possibility of losing the house. I thank you. Hope all is well. alice

  3. Hi Alice. It makes me feel sad about the possibility of the house leaving your family. But you have such wonderful, rich memories that will be with you forever, no matter what. Love, Linda

  4. Hi Lin. Thank you for the note...still wish you could go sometime. love, alice