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.

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