Cape Cod

The Beach Cottage

…taken from my hand-written journal during our electronics-free stay on Cape Cod… For a week near the beach, I want to be in a simple place.  Where sand tracked in is OK, for it doesn’t get caught in the grout of tiled kitchen floors.  Because on the kitchen floor is a sheet of vinyl, tacked down only on the doorway side that adjoins the living room.  And the living room is covered with an area rug, the color of sand.  It’s made to welcome a bit of the outdoors in.  No fuss in keeping grit from underfoot.

This place has felt the sea.  They’ve ridden tandem for many years.

At 3 a.m. the first night, I awoke cold.  I had shut the windows at 11 p.m., but the chill from the ocean air was still around us.  Coming up from the floorboards?  In through the cracks around windows and doors?

I bumbled around in the dark looking for more blankets.  In my walk end to end of this little cottage, I felt the years of ocean life rolling under my feet.  The gentle up down patter of the floor boards with an occasional fall under the vinyl in the kitchen.  And an even more noticeable rise in the bathroom.  The floors ebbed and flowed reflecting the same patterns a minute’s walk away.

Not finding any blankets inside, I went barefoot through dewy grass out to the van for extra covers.  My first step outside smelled like a walk into a bag of fresh clams.  The cool air was bursting with ocean.  I grabbed two fleece blankets from the van and tucked them over the boys.  I put a sweatshirt on and went back to bed.

By 10 a.m. the next day, the smell had changed to ripe old clams baking in the sun, brought on by warming dampness.

Poking around that morning, I discovered when the bedroom door is open…

...the closet door is shut.

Giddy delight.

(More from the same beach... Shell Seeking.)

Simple Summer Vacation

We caught a short, early summer vacation last week. All I wanted was simple quiet for a few days. I found an original "Cape Cod beach cottage" in South Yarmouth. The little cottage hadn't been touched structurally since it had been built in the 40's or 50's. The black vinyl "46" on the door frame was anchored above a painted-over "9." While the other cottages had been built around, up, or over, ours sat a bit curmudgeonly on a corner lot. To all that fluff around it: Bah humbug. It was still "9."

The charmed simple pine wood walls were dotted with original windows. Each had a one pull/push peg hold-and-lock system. Up for a breeze & down for warmth. The old painted wood floors, area rugs, and vinyl rang out, "I'm OK with sand."

Weeks before the trip, I made a decision: This was going to be an electronics-free trip. I confided in Bill. "Good luck with that." (He wasn't coming down until the last half of the week.) I shared the plan with Will a few days before. After a couple moments to process: "OK. I can do that." I told Liam an hour before we left... "What?!?!"

I packed the van to the gills with building blocks, craft supplies, swords and shields, and books. Drawing paper, beach gear, puzzles, and books. A magic kit, coolers of food, pantry goods, and books. Toilet paper, soap, clothes, and books.

I didn't pack computers or iPods. I didn't turn on the GPS as we left our house. The boys had maps of the Cape and written directions. Once in South Yarmouth, their voices navigated me to the cottage.

That evening, we each carved out a niche, and we read. The calm. The next morning, more of the same. Why did it feel so relaxing?

Mid-week, I figured it out. Leaving electronics at home meant there was an omission of relentless, needling questions: "When can I get on?" "It's 8 a.m., can I play now?" "How long can I play?" "Why won't you let me play more?" "Can I play in the morning and then again in the afternoon?"

This electronics-driven sub-language wasn't spoken for a week. That quiet lull was bliss.

(More about this place: The Beach Cottage.)