You can say this about Cape Cod: It rains in May. Remember that old song, “Though April showers may come your way, / they bring the flowers that bloom in May…”? “Have no regrets,” Al Jolson sang, “It isn’t raining rain you know, / it’s raining violets…” Why did this song come to mind? Because it’s the end of May, not April—and it’s still raining. Precious few violets come with it, I’ve noticed. Still, I shouldn’t complain, because those April showers did bring lots of other flowers, and they’re gorgeous. Redbuds, dogwoods, rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips, and other local flora. New England is famous for its fall leaves; people come from everywhere for the visual treat. Well, coming in springtime is equally rewarding. I shouldn’t mislead you, either. Yes, it’s rained just about every day. But it has been sunshiny just about every day, also. We’ve loved it.
While walking along Provincetown’s major street we came upon a sculpture of two people. The base says they’re typical Provincetown tourists. We hadn’t posed for the artist, but we could have, don’t you think?
I promised last time I’d tell you how much Joy learned in her classes and conference. A lot, she reports: techniques to make your art unique, color properties which enhance encaustic work, mixed media, networking and marketing, etc. What I learned is that she ranks right up there with the best of them. The lady can paint! I’m suspecting she’ll want to return to this annual encaustics conference; next time she’ll exhibit some of her own work. She’s enjoyed being with her peers. They understand what she’s doing much better than her longtime roommate does. Not that she’s said that, but I pick up hints.
While Joy worked I played. One day I climbed Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, which advertises itself as having “the best view and museum too.” It also gives you free admission (otherwise $12 if you’re old enough) if you pay $15 for the day in its parking lot. That’s a real bargain in this town that’s almost one big “No Parking” area.
The monument commemorates the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims on November 21, 1620. Construction began in 1907 and was completed in 1910. The tower, situated atop the town’s tallest hill, towers at 252’ 7 ½“ . The interior climb consists of 116 steps (ask me how I know!), interspersed with 60 ramps to ease the pain. It’s the tallest all-granite structure in the United States, each stone the same thickness as the exterior wall. Here’s a fact I found fascinating: it was patterned after the Torre Del Mangia in Siena, Italy, which we saw at the Palio (annual horserace) there almost two years ago. As I climbed the monument I enjoyed reading the inscribed names and founding dates of cities, towns, and organizations that donated toward the construction. Truro (1709) has an inscribed stone, for example, as does our neighboring community of Wellfleet (1763). I couldn’t find one for Tillamook, Oregon, my hometown. An obvious oversight.
On Sunday Joy was still tied up with her conference duties, so I was again on my own. The Cape is dotted with historic steepled white buildings that look “like what a church is supposed to look like.” I chose the Congregational Church in a neighboring village. It was representative of these almost legendary structures and, I’m afraid, also of the tiny, mostly elderly congregations that worship in them. A pipe organ called us to order and supported our feeble singing, a robed choir rather tremulously presented the anthem, the congregation stood and sat on cue–while this visitor grabbed the printed program for instructions. I entered a little late, which probably explains why no one at the outer or inner doors greeted me, an oversight we’ve often observed in struggling churches everywhere. This was Pentecost Sunday, so the preacher did his best to make that churchly theme somehow relate to modern mostly unchurched America. Not a meaty sermon, but a pleasant one. The communion service took me back to my home church. The ushers brought the elements to us, pew by pew. A major difference: these ushers were women. In my youth they had to be men, and they had to be in suit and tie. Otherwise, this church seemed a carbon copy of the Tillamook church—trays for the individual wine (grape juice) cups and the bread, a sense of quiet reverence uniting us. I felt at home as I joined the other participants in this simple ritual; though we were few in number, communion reminds us we belong to a large, vigorous worldwide Body. I should mention also that I was touched by their obvious affection for one another.
Another of my solitary discoveries: Cape Cod’s oldest lighthouse, authorized by President George Washington in 1797. It was erected on what was believed to be solid ground, but over the years ocean waves ate away more and more of the cliff. The original ten-acre plot on which it was built is now only four acres; the sea swallowed the rest.
By 1996 the powers that be ordered the lighthouse moved away from the cliff. It now stands 450 feet inland from its original location, a daunting challenge for the crew that inched this tall, intact, upright structure to its present site. Visitors can take the steps to the top. Visitors who have just climbed the steps of the Pilgrim Monument tend to decline the offer.
Next stop: Johnson City, Tennessee.
JOY’S PICK OF THE PICS