This weekend was my first significant cycling on Cape Cod – 115 miles out on Sunday from Cambridge to Eastham to visit my friends Mike and Jan, and then 95 miles back today. I got lost several times going, which extended my distance there, and hopped on the T from Braintree to Harvard on the way home to avoid riding at night.
Cape Cod’s beauty, like so much of New England, is rooted in the satisfying arrangement of ordinary elements – the sea against the dune, the wind animating the grass, the elegant proportion of a 6 over 6 window on a cedar clad saltbox. It is the perfect environment for cycling – a landscape well scaled for ten miles per hour. I spent most of my pedaling time on Route 6A, where the perpetual quaintness of period structures, billowing tress and vibrant day lilies is occasionally blown apart by intermittent yet expansive view across a marsh to distant dunes.
My trip was triggered by my annual visit to a Cape Cod League baseball game in Orleans, though we never got there. Dinner talk lingered and Mike offered to show me around Eastham during the hour the sun dropped into nightfall. He is a lively tour guide, versed in the history, politics, and characters of a small town set in this precarious strip between ocean and bay.
Although Eastham includes land with roads, houses, and such, it is the water that commands attention, or rather all the ways in which the water meets the land. Bay beaches have tall bluffs, salt ponds have scruffy edges, fresh ponds offer gentle sand for youngsters, marshes appear painterly and benign until you get caught by one racing out with the tide, while the ocean is an endless stretch of serenity on a quiet summer evening.
I don’t visit the Cape often, but I go there in my head when I need images of repose. This weekend I stocked up on year’s worth of serenity.
Fort Hill Eastham, MA