Cape Cod in autumn is a magical place. Perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, glimpses of wild nature, and best of all, no crowds!
I spent the weekend camping in Nickerson State Park with my three aunts, and needless to say, we had a wonderful time. I decided to stay an extra night on my own, and the park is nearly deserted. My company this evening was a precious cottontail rabbit who chose to forage near me as I ate my dinner. We spent at least an hour together, cohabitating, eating, and perking up our ears at the sound of a great horned owl in the distance.
I had a lazy day today on Cape Cod Bay. I loafed about on the beach, squinting into the sun and watching a flock of plovers in the sand. I went for a walk along a salt marsh and watched the water creeping in with the tide, slowly seeping into the grass and sand.
Salt marshes are among my favorite places in the world. They embody a perfect cycle of emptying out and filling up, breathing with the tide. The tidal channels are like veins flowing with vital life-giving force.
This evening before dinner, I went for a walk by one of the Cape’s many glacial kettle ponds. I watched the sun slant across the water, reflecting ripples of golden light on the changing leaves. Small fish darted by the water’s edge and tiny islands of floating pollen cast amoeba-like shadows in the ridges of sand below the surface.
Tonight before retiring, I went for a walk through the campground to admire the silhouettes of the pitch pines against the deep blue of the sky. The stars shimmered and my breath formed cloud bursts in the brisk night air.
Now as I lay in my sleeping bag, I hear something gnawing outside my tent and I am burning with curiosity. What IS that? But I know the moment I shine my lantern at it, it will vanish. Just this moment, I hear a screech owl begin to call out into the night, which sounds to me like a cartoonish high pitched snore. No doubt, last night’s pack of coyotes will join in any moment.
These night sounds don’t bother me. They comfort me, for in hearing them, I know that nature is persisting in her wondrous ways and I am not alone.
“Dwelling thus upon the dunes, I lived in the midst of an abundance of natural life which manifested itself every hour of the day, and from being thus surrounded, thus enclosed within a great whirl of what one may call the life force, I felt that I drew a secret and sustaining energy.” – Henry Beston from “The Outermost House”