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The Cape at Summer’s End!

By (August 25, 2015) No Comment

my own cape codOur book today is My Own Cape Cod, which Gladys Taber wrote in 1971 about her many idyllic seasons at Still Cove, her house on Mill Pond at Orleans on Cape Cod. We’ve met Taber already here at Stevereads as the once-popular author of the Stillmeadow books (hence the name of her cove), and in this book she collects all of her favorite anecdotes and observations from years of summering by her serene little salt water inlet. She tells of watching the fishing boats come in at sunset, of hearing the soft movements of rabbits in the garden under her windows, of wonderful relaxed porch conversations with friends, and of the soul-reviving but stubbornly indescribable brightness of the Cape air:

The Cape sunlight has a clarity I have never seen anywhere else. Perhaps the vast expanse of ocean on all sides and the countless small salt ponds may reflect extra light which woods and fields inland swallow up. It is not a hard diamond-like light but reminds me of melted crystal (if that could be) I spend a great deal of time looking at this sunlight and trying to capture it in words.

She spends enough time there to feel something of the double-edged proprietary feeling that even regular seasonal house-holders begin to experience, a proprietary feeling that comes under siege every season by the very same hordes whose money supports the whole economy of the place:

Full summer means bumper-to-bumper crossing the bridge. It means the beaches bearing a heavy crop of humanity. It means campsites so full not one more car is admitted. It means trailers and old cars made into contraptions with canvas tops and bunks. We have to be realistic, no matter how we feel about the Cape, for it also means that countless people dream of this all year, and save for it, and feel they have a handhold on Heaven even if only for one week or two.

She feels a sympathy for those hordes of summer tourists, and like so many people whose arrangements allow them to stay a little later (or, the lucky few, year round), she comes to equate their packing up and leaving with both the end of noisy congestion and the end of precious summer. The feeling is always abrupt, because the summer lucy reads my own cape codfeels so natural at the Cape:

Summer slides so gently into autumn on Cape Cod that it is easy to believe there will be no end. Day dreams toward twilight, skies are sapphire, the tide ebbs quietly. I begin to think time itself is arrested and the green leaves will stay forever on the trees.

As I’ve written before (here, for example, and here), the last days of summer always make me think of the Cape and of my own wonderful times there over the decades. Taber’s warm, personal book captures quite a few lost details from the best of those long-gone times; if you find My Own Cape Cod – most likely in the “Cape Cod” section of a salt-smelling Cape used bookstore – you can be reminded of those times too.