This is Memorial Day weekend.
Like mythical Brigadoon rising out of the mists, Cape Cod suddenly is fully alive – with shops and restaurants throwing open their doors, bustling crowds from Falmouth to Provincetown, and bumper-to-bumper traffic all along the Cape’s vehicular carotid artery -- Route 6.
AAA forecasts traffic volumes to be the second-highest since 2000. And when you consider that more than a third of the nation’s population lives within a one-day drive from Cape Cod, all you can say is, “Brace yourself, Bridget.”
Cape Codders joke about how “dead” this place can be during the long, wind-and-rain-whipped off-season. At the same time, they dread the overcrowded conditions of summer.
So they diffuse it with humor.
If you are among the multitude that will visit or vacation on Cape Cod this summer, for instance, locals will smell you a mile away as a "wash-ashore."
And Cape Codders can list scores of attributes that set them apart from everybody else on the planet.
Here are just a few:
- You can point to a spot on your arm to show people where you live
- You can work a traffic rotary
- You refer to most of the world as "off Cape"
- You know someone who knows someone who knew a Kennedy
- You can find Truro
- You’ve seen actual cranberries in a bog
- You know where the Cape Cod Tunnel is
- You know that people who have summered here since they were in diapers are still wash-ashores
- You understand the difference between "Upper Cape" and "Lower Cape”
- You’ve had a meaningful relationship with a hermit crab
Visitors will tell you they come to Cape Cod to “get away” from it all.
In my forthcoming novel, Down the Edges, I touch on this in describing the character’s relocation from Manhattan to Truro:
Jenny hoped the move would open the door to some quiet think time, which was hard to come by in Manhattan. Days there were filled with clatter. During the night, noises of the city ear-wormed into her dreaming – garbage trucks, sirens, the shouts of young people exiting saloons. She resolved to wean herself from all that. From now on, she would stroll on Cape Cod’s carpets of bearberry, bend to smell beach roses and eavesdrop on the rumpus of gulls.
But do people come to the Cape to get away, really?
Or do they come – subconsciously at least -- to get back in touch with life as it could be, should be? The kind of life lived by the special breed of people born and raised on what just might be called Earth’s largest sandbar?
Because here on Cape Cod, as Rachel Carson wrote, “In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”
In my next blog, “When odd becomes ordinary”