The first full day on the Outer Cape. No beach. No fishing. No boating. No returning to the house at five, hanging towels, brushing sand off feet, showering and changing for the evening with cocktails at six and dinner at seven. No laughter. No stories.
I awoke earlier than usual to hear hard, freezing rain drumming against the bedroom window. Skies were dark grey and the trees were dancing in a north wind. Finding coffee I logged on to the Weather Channel and noted that the temperature was three degrees Celsius. Actually I should have known that when I dashed out to the car to retrieve a phone charger.
Today has been a day of visiting familiar places at an easy pace, and getting a few errands done. Cappuccino at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans was not one of these but a personal, pleasurable indulgence. It has to rank in my “top five” of coffee shops anywhere, and on a cold day like today I think half the town agreed with me. It was packed.
A visit to Snows Department Store just across Main Street (where I resisted the temptation to spend any money in their new, expanded railway and modeling department but made a wish list) was followed by the practical shopping for victuals at Stop ‘n Shop. This included some traditional bare necessities for a couple of days on the Outer cape: Linguica sausage and local Portuguese bread.
Heading north again on Route 6 I drove past the dozens of tourist-dependent businesses, most of which were showing signs of preparation for the new season. I was happy to see that that Marconi Beach Restaurant in South Wellfleet (in my opinion some of the best BBQ around) had already opened, but due to the vagaries of the Massachusetts licensing laws could not serve liquor until the first of April. Damn those Puritans!
Passing that eatery, where in season they burn hickory logs in a burner in front of the restaurant to tempt passers-by, I turned east to visit the historical site where Marconi made the first wireless transmission originating in the USA to the King of England on the 18th of January 1903. A special place for me, not only on account of my interest in radio and its history but because Kate and I visited there once upon a time. It was the last trip we made before she became a teenager and all the changes that that entails.
I parked the car, pulled on another sweater, and walked two hundred feet into the wind to the site. Where previously there had been a covered shelter with a detailed scale model of the original transmitter site (under Perspex) – today there was nothing. (See photo above.) My heart sank, but I had no time to think any more because the wind increased and I was pelted by large hail flying off the Atlantic Ocean. All my head stung with the cold and the impact as I dashed back to the warm car. Then I saw the notice of explanation. Recent storms had destroyed most of the exhibits and made the site too dangerous for reconstruction. Another piece of history, and the roots of another memory gone.
In commiseration I will cook for dinner a stew of mussels and linguica, with linguine and spinach. Cocktail hour has arrived so I will mix a martini with blueberry-infused vodka. And think about tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, the tides a right for a hike out to Provincetown’s two southern, historical lighthouses: Wood End and Long Point. A round trip of some seven miles, the first section of which is over a mile of rocky breakwater, it ought to be a good first hike of the season. But I am watching the weather. As I write it is snowing hard…