Fort Hill and Nauset Marsh, Eastham

Fort Hill is an ancient place. At first, as you ascend the hill,
you look down and across a lovely, sloping meadow capped by a sky that looms
over the Atlantic, registering the slightest weather change. That would almost
be enough. But then, when you reach the top of the hill, what you see is a view
that will draw you to this place every day for the rest of your life, if you’re
inclined that way. It’s a view that’s been stored in my head for decades. I’ve
been painting it in my mind, and I’ve been painting it for real all year, in
all seasons, at all times of day.

There’s a human history to the place. Indians were
involved. Captain Penniman built his mansion right at the base of the hill, so somehow
sea-captains were involved too. And settlers who must have built the antique
cape-style houses along Governor Prence Road. It could be that some sort of
early hominids were involved, but I don’t know about that. It just seems
imaginable. The place is haunted.

The human history of Fort Hill is important mostly
because, thanks to a lot of bureaucratic interference and brilliant foresight, I’m
able to see it through those ancient eyes. Because this is one place on the
Cape, one of several in the bounty of Eastham, where it’s possible to know a
place in almost the same way our ancestors knew it.

Fort Hill is sublime.

The Eastham Flats Series II

Thumpertown, Campground, Boatmeadow,
First Encounter, 
Sunken Meadow, Cole Road, Cook’s Brook

The precise direction that the sun arcs over any body of water is not always
appreciated for its aesthetic value, anyway. For instance, to view the sunset
over at the Brewster or Orleans beaches, you need to place your lawn chair parallel
to the shoreline and crane your neck awkwardly to the left. You feel as if the whole
event is somehow out of alignment.

But in Eastham we are blessed. The sun rises directly behind you from the east,
browning your shoulders in the morning, and then much later, lowers itself
gently into the horizon, like a lady taking a bow on center stage. Right in
front of you.

There is more. If you’re lucky enough to catch the ebb tide, when the bay has been
drained almost dry and the tide begins its slow turning, you will sense its tug
along your whole body. You could heal yourself of almost anything this way.

And when the tide slides in on a hot summer afternoon, and you’re floating along with
it…well, you must give yourself this gift someday.

But if you are walking out on the flats at low tide when the sun is setting in
front of you, and you are heading into its golden path, you probably feel as if
you’re part of an unclaimed dimension.

And, I will say, you surely are.

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