Sunday, August 16, 2015

Campground Beach

There is a place that you won't find highlighted on any maps, or written about in travel books; there is nothing about the place that is particularly remarkable. It is just a beach on the bay side of Cape Cod. There isn't even a clearly marked sign telling you that it's there, or what its called. It's simply a beach at the end of Campground Road, in Eastham.

Campground Beach is special to me because I grew up on it. It's a 15 minute walk from my childhood home, in which I still live. Granted, I rent the other side of the duplex now from my parents, and lived a few other places first, but I ended up back home.

Campground Road is a long straight road with a speed limit of 20 mph. Depending on the time of day, it's better to walk on one side or the other to stay in the shade. I often walk it barefoot, especially on the way home, but I don't recommend it to the uninitiated-soft-footed-people. I avoid wearing shoes as often as possible, even in the middle of winter, so I can walk across our shell driveway barefoot without an issue.

My mother would take my older brother and I down to that beach almost every day. At low tide, there are rows of sandbars, numbering 9 or 10. Between each bar is a warm safe strip of water, perfect for small children. The water is full of snails, crabs and little fish that kept us entertained for hours. We'd build castles in the sand and catch hermit crabs to populate it with. We're lucky for our olive skin tone or we'd have been red children, being out in the sun so much.

As I grew older, Campground beach became a kind of sanctuary for me. Whenever I was having a bad day, or in a bad mood, I'd walk or drive down and sit by the water on the rocks. I tried to teach a friend of mine to drive stick shift in the large parking lot (turned out to be hopeless, but at least he tried). I sat in my car with friends, lamenting about high school drama and life BS. I would spend hours at the beach, doing nothing but walking, or sitting and listening to the wind and waves.

Two years ago, I spent the late winter, spring and summer collecting piles of driftwood that my father used to build the arbor I was married under. He used the leftovers to make a beautiful fence to border the gardens at the house. Myself and most of my family gathered hundred of heart shaped and striped rocks to use as wedding favors. Many of the rocks came from Campground, and I still grab the heart shaped ones whenever they appear.

I love to go in the winter, on days when the wind rips along the shore. I can stand on the top of the piles of sand the town places at the edge of the parking lot to (hopefully) prevent erosion and damage. On the best days, the wind blows so hard I can lean forward close my eyes and pretend I'm flying. I am a grown woman, yes, but I still do this. I am reminded of the quote by Benjamin Franklin, "We do not stop playing because we grow old,we grow old because we stop playing." Campground beach reminds me of my childhood; it reminds me to let my imagination live fully, and to not be embarrassed to pretend I can fly.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oddly Relieved

I finally had a day where I had nowhere to be, and nothing to do. I'd planned on going out on my father's boat to the beach for the day. I haven't had a chance all summer, what with work, people visiting, obligations, and trying to market Catching Bodel. So it would stand to reason that this morning, when I woke up to see full cloud cover and a cold breeze, I would have been devastated. I was however, relieved.

Living on Cape Cod, I feel an almost obligation to enjoy what makes the cape so attractive to tourists. I love the beach, truly I do. But I don't go in the summer very often. Largely, that's due to my summer work schedule, but I could still get there if I really tried. But I don't. Because the reality is that I don't like the beach in the summer because it's full of people. That might sound harsh, but it's just my reality. I'm an introvert, and the beach is my sanctuary. I like to go there to be alone, to walk and listen to the wind and the waves. I don't go to cling to a tiny little square of sand surrounded by shouting children, overly enthusiastic college kids trying too hard to have a good time, people who make very daring fashion decisions, and the countless others who populate the beach. Everyone is there to have a good time, and I'm all for that. My good time just doesn't include lots of people. So on a day like today, while the beach would have been nice, I was delighted that it was overcast and I had an excuse to just stay home.

Sometimes it's hard to take time for myself, because when push comes to shove, what I like to DO is, well, NOTHING. I don't like going out very much. I love movies, but don't want to be in a crowded theater. That's why I love the drive-in, because I am outside and get a lot of space to myself. I love the beach, but only when no one is on it. So I go in the winter, fall and spring. I like to walk in the woods (what little woods we have on this sandbar), but again, only when the paths aren't clogged with people. This is not an anti-tourist rant. The economy of the Cape depends on tourism, and people should come and enjoy themselves. I just choose not to join them. I'll stay home, read a book in my hammock in the back yard. I'll let the tortoise wander around the yard and follow him around aimlessly. I'll sunbathe on the private beach known as my back deck. I'll take my overcast days and hold them close, because they are my favorite. That probably makes me different, but I'm used to that.