Wednesday, September 1, 2004

9.1.04: It rained yesterday morning on Old Cape Cod

A late afternoon stop at the beach at Nauset. Photo: JH.
If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air;
Quaint little villages here and there,
You’re sure to fall in love
With old Cape Cod.
Lyrics to a popular
song in the 1950s
Sung by Patti Page
9.1.04: It rained yesterday morning on Old Cape Cod. Poured, cats and dogs. The leftover from Hurricane Gaston, so saieth the Weather Channel. All of which was good, because the day before it was very hawt as the Bostonians would say on old Cape Cawd. Hawt-hawt-hawt so that you were hoping it would rain and cool things off. Which it did.

Once upon a time it would have killed me if I were at the beach and it rained. But now when I’m at the beach and it’s all sunshine, I’m liable to be afraid it might really kill me, even with massive sunscreen. The times, how they change.

So, raindrops kept fallin’ on our heads, we made a lunch date to meet friends in Chatham at a place called the Impudent Oyster. We made the date for 12:30, and figured it would take us a half-hour to get there. Why a half-hour? Why not? I used to come to the Cape when I was a kid and then again when I was in college for those houseparty weekends. Once you crossed the Bourne Bridge and the Cape Cod Canal, as I recalled, you were pretty much there, give or take a half hour.
On the beach at Wellfleet. 4:00 PM.
However, two things happened that mucked up our schedule. First, I’m reading Peter Evans Nemesis which I’ll tell you about in a day or two. Some people would call it juicy or shocking. I’ll just say: I can’t stop reading it. It’s about Onassis, which means it’s about Jackie and Maria and Jack and Bobby and Marilyn and money and sex and murder and money and sex and such. Kitty Kelley’s coming out with her expose on the Bush family in a couple of weeks and all I can think is that she’ll have to go some length to beat this one for sheer shock.

As I was saying: reading the book, I forgot the time. My lunchdates were already at the restaurant when we got in the car to make the trip to Chatham. Which I figured was a half hour away. We were coming from Falmouth this time. And the route we took, Route 28 on the map, looked like the simplest most efficient route. Which it might have been if it were a highway or a freeway. It started out like that – a highway or freeway – although it soon became a two-lane blacktop except ... when it came to strips of shopping malls, or quaint little villages here and there, followed by more shopping malls and more quaint little shopping malls and more stop lights and more cars than you’d see on the FDR on an ordinary Monday morning. It became like midtown traffic on a normal weekday in New York, viz., Stress City.
Caught in the rain at Chatham.
All this originally planned out as an escape from the presumed overly frantic Manhattan during the Republican Convention.

A little more than two hours later we arrived in Chatham.
Our lunchdates had secured the table, waited, finally ordered some chowder, waited, finally ordered a main course, finished it and finally left. When I called, finally able to get through on the cell (not easy on lots of stretches of the Cape), I got a very stoney acceptance of apology. Which sounds about right after waiting more than two hours for someone who doesn’t even show up.
DPC and Charlie Scheips on the beach at Wellfleet.
It’s hard to find a place to park in Chatham on the Tuesday before Labor Day when it’s raining. The place was mobbed, quaint little village that it sorta still is (with heavy overtones of shopping mall having advanced upon it). The Impudent Oyster is no Swifty’s or Michael’s or Pastis or Cipriani’s or Le Cirque and certainly no Le Bernardin. But hit the spot it did for these starving stragglers.

From there we drove on to Wellfleet (by that time the rain had stopped) where our friend Charlie Scheips gave us a tour of the beach on the bay where he and his partner Tom Graf have a cottage buried in the Japanese pines. Beautiful; heavenly. Then we drove back down to Orleans where we stopped in to see an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years. By that time it was quarter to eight and getting dark. On the recommendation of my old friend, we got on Route 6 and were back home in forty-five minutes. By that time we also found ourselves thinking about New York and the aforementioned picture of the practically deserted Seventh Avenue on Monday afternoon. Thinking of how great it would be to be back there on a quiet afternoon, like this afternoon, for example.
The lighthouse and the fog-enveloped beach in Chatham.
Passing through the town of Chatham.
Walking down the beach in Wellfleet.
A few hours later, we stopped at the beach at Nauset as the beachcombers and surfers were packing up and going home.

Contact DPC here.