Change of season, change of pace… and using it well

Nauset-Light-BeachI almost drove out to Nauset Beach today. It’s an amazingly gorgeous day, bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. The perfect sort of weather to head to the beach.

Nauset Beach on Cape Cod is about 2 hours from my house. 2 hours and 4 minutes, according to Google Maps. And considering I was up early today, and I didn’t really have any hugely pressing duties that MUST be done today, I figured I could drive the 2 hours (and 4 minutes), arrive before noon, eat the lunch I packed, walk the beach, explore the areas that were carved away by winter storms, and get back home no later than 10 p.m.

It’s Saturday. If the day runs late, I can always make up for lost sleep tomorrow.

That was my thinking, anyway.

herring cove sunset

Another amazing sunset in Provincetown

When Laney and I were out in Provincetown, a few weeks back, we chatted with someone who lived in the area who told us winter storms had carved huge chunks of land off Nauset Beach. There were sections blocked off. Caution tape up. Facilities that weren’t accessible. I wanted to stop and take a look on our way home from P-town, but it was a rainy day, and we just wanted to get down the road. So, I didn’t get to take a look.

dunes-erosion-grass-roots

Woody dune growth, with their roots all exposed. Bunches of this had uprooted and were lying down the beach a ways.

I’ve been  feeling disappointed about that, because while I was walking the beach at Herring Cove towards Race Point, I saw so much erosion, it was crazy. It was — as the fellow we’d chatted with put it — “like the hand of God reached down and just scooped it all away.” Dunes were eroded so far down that driftwood buried for many years was exposed, poking out of the side of the washed-away dune, a foot or so beneath the surface where the grass was growing.

Parking lot erosion @ Herring Cove North

Parking lot erosion @ Herring Cove North

Half the parking lot was cordoned off, because it wasn’t safe to park there.

A lot of the parking lot was just gone.

Massive swathes of asphalt had been undercut and just buckled and fell away… then washed on down the beach. Or out to sea. There was a lot of asphalt unaccounted-for.

herring-cove-asphalt-erosion1

The asphalt looked like it had melted on someone’s dashboard

And up at the bathhouse area? Well, that beautifully constructed deck and walkway leading down to the beach for folks with limited mobility… that’s gone.

dunes-erosion

Dune erosion – near where we used to build our fires

The spot where Laney and I built many a beach fire, not far from the end of the walkway? That was gone, too — as though it had never existed.

 

And even more remarkable — all those colorful stones and pebbles that have been the hallmark of Herring Cove South… gone. Washed out to sea. I think they got washed away a couple of years ago, but this year, it was even more noticeable… perhaps because of all the dunes erosion.

Damage to the stairs at Nauset Beach - no, this isn't my picture (click the image to see a gallery of pictures)

Damage to the stairs at Nauset Beach – no, this isn’t my picture (click the image to see a gallery of pictures)

 

So, of course I wanted to get a look at Nauset Beach! It wasn’t enough to look online. I wanted to stand there and look at it – in person. I wanted to feel the sun on my back, the wind in my face, the sand under my feet. I wanted to hear the splashing of the surf, the calling of the gulls, and spot the occasional beach walker bundled up against the wind. Maybe I’d get pictures. Or maybe I’d just stand there and look at it, shaking my head. I wanted to see for myself what the hand of God had been up to, and marvel at it, just as I’d marveled at the damage at Herring Cove.

There was just one problem. I was bushed. I’d had a pretty long week, and I sorely needed to catch up on my sleep. Nothing kills a weekend more than being dragged down by a sleep deficit, and I’d actually been planning to catch up on my ‘zzzs’ today — and tomorrow.  And nothing turns a 2-hour drive to the beach into a chore, like being tired. I actually did pack a lunch and was almost ready to go, but really, I was way too tired to do anything.

So I went back to bed.

A couple hours later, I woke up and looked at the clock. I could still make it to the beach and have at least 4 hours of daylight to enjoy. On the beach. Seeing the sights. But was it worth losing all that time to driving?

Not really.

Long story short, I made the best of my time at home. I got my yard raked. Dead grass has been pulled up to make room for new growth. Leftover leaves have been removed from the garden areas, and the deadfall in the front yard has been thrown into the woodsy no-mans-land between my house and the neighbor’s. The chokecherries that have been encroaching on the pines in the front, as well as getting a foothold all along the front stone wall (nasty thorny bastards!), are now trimmed back and tossed aside. And the trees that sprouted a few years back and were starting to get a foothold in places they shouldn’t be, have been cut and piled in the side woodlot.

And so, for me, spring has officially begun. With work. And with plenty of time to think. Yard work is a kind of meditation for me — a moving mindfulness practice that always brings new thoughts to mind as I tend the land around my home. Some folks hate yard work, but for me, it’s a reminder of just how fortunate I am to live where I do – and how I do. It gets me thinking. As I rake and collect and toss and mend, it frees up a whole lot of ideas that normally don’t come to me.

This year is seeing a lot of changes for me. People are moving in and out of my life. I’m losing people I care about, and I’m gaining new people whom I will eventually care about. My work situation is… well… interesting, as we go through a merger that has a lot of people asking a lot of questions, without many definitive answers, yet. And my own focus is shifting more squarely toward my writing and publishing, as I dig out manuscripts I started years ago… then put aside to tend to the day-to-day.  There’s a lot of decent material there — at least five full-length works that are “written” in my head, but still need the words on paper. Novels. Essays. Philosophy. A play. And yes, some poetry.

As I was hacking away at the chokecherries, it occurred to me that although the books awaiting my attention are all about different things, they’re essentially about the same topic: Change. How we handle it. How we prepare for it. How we avoid it. How we embrace it and manage it, or fight it every inch of the way.  What it brings to us. What it takes from us. It’s all about change, with me. And it has been for many, many years.

So, that was a productive use of time. I got my yard tidied up, and I got some good revelations. Sure, I would have loved to see Nauset Beach and how it’s weathered the seasons. But I was welcoming my own new season.

Right here, at home.

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