Saturday, July 18, 2015

White Cedar Swamp, Wellfleet

One of my favorite places to walk on the lower cape is the White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet. One side of the parking lot leads to a beautiful view of the ocean. I usually head over that side to spend a moment looking at the water. One evening I caught the sunset at just the right time.
The other side of the parking lot has a trail leading down into the swamp. There are a bunch of fire roads back there as well. I haven't taken the time to really explore them. The main walk is a circle, and there is a boardwalk through the cedar swamp. It is a beautiful walk throughout the year, though when it snows badly, the park service closes it.

During the spring, the swamp still has little caches of ice and snow in the shadows that don't ever really see light. The moss turns green and the ferns and little vines start twining their way up the cedar trunks. It smells like wet ground and foliage, a thick, earthy smell that I've always found comforting. The boardwalk shifts and cracks the little bits of ice that hide under it's perpetual shade. There aren't any frogs yet, but every once and a while you catch the hint of a squirrel or chipmunk scuttling through the close knit trees.

I don't get to walk much in the summer because of my work schedule. And honestly, as an introvert, I prefer to walk alone. During the summer, the small woodsy paths are full of people. I hope they enjoy themselves, genuinely I do, but I prefer to spend my sparse free time enjoying the solitude of my backyard. Besides, due to the nature of swamps, summertime also means that there are mosquitoes everywhere. My husband and tried to go for a walk once, much later in the spring than we normally stop going, and the mosquitoes were so thick that we could barely see. It was like looking through a screen. Needless to say, we left quickly, running like crazy people, swinging our arms to try and keep from losing all of our blood.

Fall is a beautiful time to visit the cedar swamp. The masses of people are gone, leaving a few stragglers, but solitude is achievable. Cedars don't change much over the seasons, but the scattering of other plants loose their leaves and start to wither. The frogs are still out early enough in the fall. They hop and squeak at you as you pass, making little splashes. The sun plays through the trunks of the trees and dances on the water.

In the winter, the quiet is absolute. The only sound is the crunch of the snow under your boots, the swish of your coat. The spider web of water is frozen, a thin layer of glass. The moss is still green, though its a darker, more struggling color than the bright blazing spring and summer. The ice breaks as you walk along the boardwalk, creaking and crunching. The sun plays through the trees, reflecting off the snow and ice. It's the most beautiful in the winter. And I know how lucky I am that I am one of the few who is here to see it.

1 comment:

  1. This place holds such powerful memories. Thank you for your homage.