I went up by myself to the Cape for a quick visit. One night. A little work the afternoon I arrived, an evening there in the cabin, then six or seven hours before I left for Storrs. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Cape alone and I wanted just to revisit that feeling. Without Suzy along I noticed the trip up isn’t quite the same. Do I regret not bringing Suzy along? Am I beating myself up for being selfish? Do I not deserve this chance by myself? I stopped in Onset at Marc Anthony’s for a grilled chicken sandwich with peppers and onions on their Syrian bread. As a kid with my parents we drove through Onset for years just writing it off. Route six is not the best part of town. I’d seen the sign for Onset Beach and wondered, as a kid.. Then I met someone a few years ago who lived there and she spoke glowingly of Onset, “Like the Cape without the prices.” So on one of my solo trips to the Cape I decided to take a few minutes to explore. Am I glad I did. My regular route to the Cape now includes a swing through Onset center and a stop at Marc Anthony’s. Life’s little side trips are often the best parts. Breathe it in.
When you order at Marc Anthony’s you can get it to go and cross a small street to enter this park overlooking Onset Bay. Benches and all.
While I’m waiting for my sandwich- you order and pay at the register, then find a table- a group of Coast Guardsmen came in dressed in what I thought to be very snazzy foul weather gear but turned out to be dry suits. One of the fellows was talkative. I peppered him with questions. They’d been out for a run through the canal. A stunning day for a ride. He loved it and thought the Coast Guard was way better than the Navy. Yes, he’d seen The Finest Hours. Their boat was docked down below and they walk up for lunch. I drove down to the dock in my snappy practically-new-only-four-years old Chevy pickup to eat on the water.. Their boat was there. Twin Honda 225’s.
I love driving to the Cape. The sight of the bridge and the canal is stirring to me every time.
It doesn’t look too stirring in the photo. You have to be there. You have to have driven to the Cape with your family, with my father driving. He could get you excited about it. Five kids and two dogs in a 1955 Chevy sedan. It was longer drive back then, too. No big highways. And you’d get lost in Providence every time, guaranteed. Route six was routed right through the town and they changed the route every time we went. You’d miss a little sign and you got quite tour of Providence trying to find route six again.. I still love Providence, too. And Johnston with the coolest gas station in the world- a fieldstone building now known as Hartford Radiator. There was another station right on a pond in Johnston where we had stopped at dusk once for gas when akid about my age came around with a fishing pole and great big bass. He was all excited; I was too. What a fish. Does stuff like that still happen? Yeah, you get to the Cape quicker now.
So once on the Cape I like to get off the highway in Orleans and take the back way to North Eastham, you see the Skaket Beach area a little and that part of Orleans running down to Rock Harbor and all the cottages around there. It is lovely. Once on Bridge road another traditional stop when we have Hobbes with us, is to hit Boat Meadow Beach. I didn’t have Hobbes, but I thought I ought to stop. I pull up and what do I see?
Another puppy! Check out his legs. They’re all going like crazy.
I guess it’s not just Hobbes’ favorite beach.
So I had to stop at the new library which is AWESOME! I wanted to get few Joseph Lincoln books. They’re hard to find around here. The Eastham Library had forty of them. I ran into Glenn, my surfing buddy from days of yore, and invited him to stop by later. I got my books, bought two Eastham turnip festival tee shirts which look like they were designed by Magritte, with a gorgeous purple turnip floating over the beach.
I arrived, fearful toward the end that I would have to break in to the cabin because I didn’t think I had a key with me- different vehicle. It turns out I didn’t need to break in. I had cleverly put a copy of the Cape shed key on my pick up truck key ring. It’s not all that hard to break in because the upstairs door doesn’t lock, but you’d have to drop down from the attic to the main floor. And you need to get up to the second floor.
Of course there’s usually a ladder hanging around, but I thought I might have left it inside over the winter. I could also just open a window and climb in- it turns out I hadn’t locked them. Hey, wait a minute. Am I crazy telling you how to break in to our cabin? I figure if you are the sort to break into cabins that you’d be able to figure it out in about three seconds. Look at the latch on the second floor door. If you need a place to stay that bad, help yourself. There’s a little wood for the stove. There are candles. There’s a pump for water down by the well. Lock up when you leave. There isn’t much to steal.
All this to lead to refinement. Refining thought. Coming to a place with something you are making or have been thinking about, where you feel really quite good about it is wonderful. I had come to the cabin to install some electric wires in the walls so I could insulate. I am pretty handy, but I am not an electrician and I was in a little over my head. I felt genuine trepidation over this. You tube helps. reading helps, but it is scary to do things you don’t know well. I’ll have an electrician do all the actual hooking up and wiring the switches and lights, and hooking up to the main power when we get main power, but I need the sires in the walls before I can insulate it and get the sheetrock in, and paint the walls and ceiling, do the kitchen counter, and get curtains up, and start building drawers, and work at the refinement. It takes quite a bit of time to finish things well. I am a classic under estimater. My friend Rachel says it takes about four times as long as you’d think to finish anything and she’s a math whiz. When I began this cabin in the fall of 2015 I thought I’d be done with it that winter. A few weeks to get it up, then a couple of weeks to finish everything off. HA! I want this to be a really neat little cabin and I am now willing to work at that. It has required a philosophical shift on my part. All my life I have been busy, rushing about, working, family, duties, recreation. I did a lot of thing slap dash. I had no choice? Zoom zoom. Now, older, I am trying to focus on fewer things. This cabin for one. Lewis Thomas in his book, Lives of a Cell talks about how important it is to fully understand something. He suggests that before we annihilate ourselves with a fun-filled nuclear display we ought to agree as a species to cooperate and come to fully understand something, say an ant colony. And what we would learn about ourselves in the process he was hoping would be enough to maybe forestall the nuclear holocaust. I think his words should be heeded today more than ever.
Is this what the tiny house movement is all about? Are some starting to feel that to understand things thoroughly is important. There is so much information now, much of it deliberately misleading, some outright false, that you can be confused. Our horizons are huge- unlimited? Overwhelming? Do I want to be the president of the universe or just be a gazillionaire? Look at all the friends I have on facebook!
In times of confusion it can be comforting to have someone tell you what to do. Big data, big experts, big solution. Just tell us what to think, what to do. Really? May I suggest caution. H.L. Mencken said, “For every complex problem there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong.” Is thinking not attractive anymore? Trump is telling us how we hate the media? We do? Does he have data? Trust me. Believe me. I don’t know.
On the way home, my fears about wiring allayed having started, understanding it better now, I was just buzzing about what came next. I was so absorbed in designing, thinking about what I would do to this little cabin and how I would manage to do it, trying to make mental lists of tasks, then getting a flash of insight into some knotty problem, that the three hour trip home seemed to happen in a flash. Can I hardly wait to finish? No. I can hardly wait to get started.