Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Beach, Again

January 26, 2014
[about Rockport, Massachusetts]

Still held on without a break
the inland barrens and shrubbery,
the desert and the high sand-bank with its even slope,
the broad white beach,
the breakers,
the green water on the bar,
and the Atlantic Ocean;
and we traversed with delight new reaches of the shore …
    HDT, The Beach Again, Cape Cod 1865

One more batch of memories of my beach vacation …

This year, instead of museums, or schooner-rides, or shopping
(not that those aren’t pleasant pursuits),
Our days very quickly devolved into visits to various beaches,
each within minutes of our hotel (which was itself right on a beach),
to spend several hours thereon just relaxing,
   and letting the eye enjoy wide vistas,
   and the mind spin free.
At that time of year, there were no admission fees,
No crowds to speak of,
No bugs,
No menu but what we packed in the little cooler,
And no clocks to pay attention to.

Fond memories,
and things to look forward to in the future,
to keep me warm on a cold snowy evening, far inland.

Front Beach:


Good Harbor Beach:

and Wingaersheek again!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Place of Resort

January 25, 2014
Hudson Falls NY (and Rockport, Massachusetts)

A healthy man, indeed,
is the complement of the seasons,
and in winter,
summer is in his heart.
   HDT, A Winter’s Walk, essay first published in The Dial, 1843

On that cold morning walk as I returned to health,
I saw a thing in someone’s front yard that was a little strange to see
(at least here in upstate New York):

Oh! It triggered a memory of warmer days  -

And a day later,while driving down the main street of Hudson Falls, 
in front of The Fish Fry Cafe
I saw another dreamer,

her finny tail trapped in the dirty snow.

She’s gazing eastward, as am I.

Here is a look back to September – to my visit to Cape Ann,
the summer in my heart today:

We’ve been visiting Rockport in September for many years now, 
and the scenery never fails to en-trance you.
There's a constancy to the sea which is comforting.
And we visit the same familiar places and shops, year after year.

Just when you think there’s nothing new going on –
behold ! 
The Windmills of Gloucester.

They weren't there a year ago - and took us by surprise.
Of course I had to get in the car and find out just where they were. 
Up close, they are truly large, and eerily beautiful at the same time.

They are visible from Good Harbor Beach –and Rocky Neck shipyard –

But they seemed to fit right in

This year we saw the full moon rise up out of the ocean

To light up the harbor in beauty

We breakfasted as high tide approached our hotel balcony:

And lunched at our favorite town park in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Here's the view from our park bench:

And the evenings ... well ! 

Like many seaside towns, there is whimsy, and charm.

These two fellows shared the same dooryard on a quiet side lane

There’s treasure to be found both at the water's edge

and along the streets

It’s an artist’s dream.

I even found a Henry-sized house, available for rent. Hmm.

Enjoy this quote from Thoreau --
when he was actually pretty far off the mark !
Or perhaps he was just ahead of his time …

The time will come when this coast will be
a place of resort
for those New-Englanders
who really wish to visit the seaside.
At present it is wholly unknown to the fashionable world,
and probably it will never be agreeable to them.

     HDT, "Provincetown,” Cape Cod, 1865

[NOTE: if you want to see where we stay while in Rockport, visit this link.
It's an awesome location, and the innkeepers, who live on the premises,
make it a pleasant experience for all. It's dog-friendly, too.

After seeing these photos again, I called Tim and made our 2014 reservations -- today!] 

Sunday, January 19, 2014


January 9, 2014
Hudson Falls, NY

We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day.
We must make root,
send out some little fibre at least,
even every winter day.
I am sensible that I am imbibing health
when I open my mouth to the wind.
Staying in the house breeds a sort of insanity always.
Every house is in this sense a hospital.
A night and a forenoon is as much confinement to those wards
as I can stand.
I am aware that I recover some sanity which I had lost
almost the instant that I come abroad.
    HDT Journal, December 29, 1856

Oh, it’s been far too long since my last entry ...
Since just before Christmas, I’d been fighting a cough.
No stuffiness, or general malaise, just a wearying dry cough that came and went.
I’d feel good one day, then lousy the next two.
(that wonderful New Year’s Day walk was one of the good days.)
Then some truly frigid air arrived;

a few days later: rain; 

then more cold,
and more rain –
and for a little variety, a dash of snow and wind.

The skies have been dark, cloudy 

and factory- gray.

All the while, I felt fragile and peevish.
I chose to stay indoors in my free time, not doing much of anything, really,
even turning down Jackie when she tried to get me out walking
on a sunny -- but cold -- day.
And at work, everyone was coughing and sneezing !

I guess I brought this on myself.
My resistance was low after a holiday recipe of
working hard, eating badly, and skipping exercise.
There was no point in trying to run, even indoors – I had no wind.
The one time I did get on the treadmill, I had to stop only five minutes into my jog,
for a little coughing jag.

Despite feeling pretty depressed about it, I really have no excuse to gripe this way.
After all, this is merely some sort of cold virus,
one that I know will eventually pass.

In the midst of my whining, I stop to wonder -- how did Thoreau do it ?
Most of his life he was plagued by tuberculosis,
a malady that killed his sister Helen in her thirties,
many of his friends in Concord,  
and would eventually kill him at the age of forty-four.
At times, it incapacitated him for days, and even weeks.
There was no cure.
Everyone who got it, knew what it meant, and what trials loomed ahead. 

There must have been times when he would be short of breath
after the most gentle of exertions.
How frustrating, how terrifying.

Henry’s father played the flute, and taught young Henry to play.
Was it an attempt to help his son strengthen his lungs, and build up his wind

A windy day at Walden

And yet - his friends recall that they could not keep up with him walking,
that he was a bold and graceful ice-skater on the frozen river,
that he did not hesitate to climb mountains (including Monadnock and Katahdin.)
Some say his outdoor habits may have actually prolonged his life.

I could imagine his feeling weary on a cold winter’s morning,
nevertheless, pausing only to wrap a woolen scarf snugly around his throat 
before stepping through the door
to chop kitchen-wood in the door-yard, or count tree-rings out in the woodlots,
or just enjoy the tonic of fresh cold air.


Finally one particularly cold day, I made a break for it.
Despite it being 8 degrees outside, I went out for the briefest of walks
in the bleak, but welcome, sunshine. 
hobbled around the slick and icy roads of our neighborhood,
Bundled up beyond recognition.

As I turned a corner, a little wind came up –
and instead of flinching,
I pulled my own woolen scarf down from my face, and inhaled deeply.