Cape cod2


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Cape cod2

  1. 1. Sarah Causillas Eng 406 McKinney March 2, 2010 Slinking Sludge and the Sweet Salty Sea I remember the smell of low tide. As we began to see marsh land covered in tall beach grass the odor would waft into the forest green caravan. It was the late 90s and we didn’t have air conditioning in our ’95 van. Instead we would open the windows and sit in the back seat in our bathing suits and shorts. My mom drove, her curly hair longer than she keeps it now, next to her in the passenger seat was Linda. Linda was one of my second moms, the wife of the pastor at our church; we grew up with her boys, Kip and Corey, who were on the trip with my sister and I along with their older sister Brooke, who had babysat us when we were younger. Derek came too, he and Corey were inseparable and Derek was the glue that bonded us all together. He was the endlessly positive friend, beginning to gain the heft that would plague his teenage years, but never without a joke followed by a laugh that was reminiscent of Woody the Woodpecker. We were on our way to First Encounter Beach, on the tip of Cape Cod in my home state of Massachusetts. This was the beach my mother had spent her summers on growing up. Her grandmother used to have a house on the beach but sold it around the time my parents were married, forever depriving me of growing up a true Cape Cod ragamuffin. Instead we would make day trips. My mom packed sandwiches, chips, soda, water bottles, fruit and veggies into our blue cooler. The cooler jumbled around in the trunk along with squeaky beach chairs, brightly colored buckets, plastic shovels and overused towels. We always snacked on the way; it seemed to take
  2. 2. Causillas 2 forever to get from where we lived on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal to Eastham. During the offseason Cranberry Highway, one of the main ways to get to “Cape Cod and the Islands,” was a five minute drive from my house and getting to anywhere of importance was maybe an additional five minutes, but the same trip could take double the time or more when the summer heat would bring the tourists in droves to my beloved hamlet. It’s not difficult to imagine the hell that was driving to the beach; your car slowly rolling towards your lifeblood, the sweet salty water that teased your nostrils as you hung your head out the window to see how far ahead the holdup was. We would play games as we sat idly in traffic, looking down at the canal from high on the Bourne Bridge, picking out our favorite boats and seeing all the people cycling, fishing and walking beside the canal. Once we got farther and the traffic thinned out as cars went to different beaches, my mom would tell us stories of when she spent her summers here. We passed the windmill where she had dreamed of getting married, the Superette, or “Super Rat” as I thought it was called, a small convenience store her grandfather, Tramp, would take her. We always stopped there, even if we didn’t buy anything. She loved the smell of the miniature store, like that of an old book stored in the attic. It had been untouched since her childhood: comic books in the same place, tobacco behind the counter. We would then finally arrive at the beach. From the parking lot it simply looked like dilapidated fences crookedly clinging to sandy mounds with some long grasses trying to gather together the entire beach in their roots, like thin wispy fists. We unloaded everything from the back of the van, our small bodies weighed down and struggling to walk through the loose, hot, dry sand. Slowly ascending the hill we would see the blue of the sky meet the copycat blue ocean, quickly receding from the beach, leaving behind sandbar islands. The kids, with the
  3. 3. Causillas 3 exception of the teenage Brooke, would dump all of our luggage on the shore where our mothers indicated, whip off our shorts, dig through the piles for some tools and run out to the sandbars. Despite the offensive smell, low tide is the best time to be on the beach. I love the dense sludge smell slinking along under the cool breeze smelling of heat and salt. As you trek from small island to island the mud smell dissipates into the pure smell of water, clean and soft. We did not bring buckets and shovels to make sand castles. Our purpose was much more sinister, we were hunters at heart. Our prey of choice: the razor clam. I remember the hopeful tension of hunting for razor clams. When the tide is out, razor clams dig into the sand and leave small holes; they’re unmistakable once you know what you’re looking for. Once the hole is seen, you need to take your bare foot and press down right next to the hole, making sure not to cover it with a stray toe. If below your toes a razor clam is anxiously hiding, a stream of water will spit out, an admirable twelve inches in the air. I remember the frenzied caution of digging quickly to catch the clam before it burrowed beyond my reach. I’d drop to my knees and dig with my hands like a frenzied badger. Razor clams are quick and fear death with an appropriate vigor. They are called razor clams because of their resemblance to a straight razor, long, thin and rectangular. I remember the triumphant feeling of wrapping my hand around the razor clam, my arm elbow deep in tight wet sand. I also remember the pain that came along with the poignant realization that they had earned their keen name. I can’t remember if I brought out the clam with my bloody finger or if the pain made me let go. I ran back to the beach, a considerable jog. Once back on the beach, Linda saw my finger and wrapped it in paper towels and pressed down. Hard. So hard I think she squeezed all the flesh out of my finger, like toothpaste. When
  4. 4. Causillas 4 she left me to get a Band-Aid I took the paper towels off and dotted the white sand with my garnet blood. I grinned morbidly. Years later I returned to my beach. I was eighteen. I had been living in Indiana for five years. I brought my boyfriend, my high school sweetheart, the boy I thought I’d marry. He had never seen the ocean. I thought we would have the same fun we did when I was small. I imagined getting a new scar to accentuate the small faded mark only I knew about that I had garnered years prior. We had grown up. We went out on the sandbars for a while, everyone quickly grew tired and returned to the beach to snack and lay out. We could do this at the pool, I thought. We were on my beach, we were breathing in the sea air, being invigorated by its quick and lingering touches. Our feet were cradled in warm sand, being solicited to move toward the cool water. The gulls were calling us to shed our worries and run with wild abandon, free of form or pace. But instead we clung to our towels, fruitlessly trying to lay flat on the sand. We futilely tried to keep the beach away, brushing the sand off our blankets, keeping our sweating drinks off the ground, putting out hair up to bar the wind from running it’s fingers along our scalps. We were at the beach but trying to remove ourselves with every action. We no longer tried to become the beach, we didn’t gather up crabs and make them fight to the death in makeshift sand coliseums. We didn’t take dead jellyfish and throw them all over each other. We didn’t want to get dirty. We left. I felt cheated. Why is it that I couldn’t enjoy the beach as I had when I was smaller? Was it because of the people I went with? Was their hesitation to play along with me
  5. 5. Causillas 5 the cause of my lackluster trip? Or was it in fact that though I tried to deny it, I had changed. The same things didn’t entertain me as they once had. I didn’t want to ruin my nails digging. I didn’t want to taste the burning shot of pain that another encounter with a razor clam may serve me. I didn’t want to suffer from unconventional tan lines. I wish I had simply let go and embraced my inner rascal, but I suppose I’ll have to try again. Perhaps I’ll bring my own children there and their excitement and whimsy will inspire me to return to that mindset. I’ll teach them how to spot the holes, how to step, how to dig, how to avoid being cut. I’ll teach them about the cycle of life, so that maybe when they eventually realize that things change even when they stay so much the same, they’ll be a little more prepared. Word Count: 1,518 Writer’s Commentary: Anyway, the interesting thing about this story is that it came from one of the first free writes we did in this class. I posted it on my blog I liked it so much and I decided I really wanted to write about it. I’m going to add it here just because maybe it’ll make up for the fact my essay’s a little short. It verges on poetry almost, which I hadn’t thought about until a friend commented. I remember my dog Chico… I remember Maine… I remember how the water was so cold and so clear and so smooth and so clean… I remember the smell of the wooden house… I remember the way the light shone in over the lake… I remember the sound of my voice echoing back from the trees on the other side of the water…I remember how pleased Rolfe seemed with himself that he got me a fishing license… I remember being embarrassed of having to wear a life jacket… I remember how bored I was fishing… I remember the smell of the umber room that was on the second floor of Camp Clear’s main house… I remember the feeling of the sand between my bare feet and the wooden floor… I remember how the screen door would creak every time you opened it… I remember the sound of
  6. 6. Causillas 6 the crash of wood on wood as it swung back with no resistance into the frame… I remember running through the prickly dried pine needles, gritting my teeth through the points pricking my bare soles… I remember being self-conscious of my lanky body in my lime green striped bikini… I remember the sensation of drowning if I were to breathe in the thick steam of the sauna… I remember bringing a cup of ice into the sauna to breathe into… I remember how I felt like I was so cool… I remember having row boat fights and races with my friends… I remember how much I hated Mike for deciding he was the only one who could paddle the paddle boat and that if you wanted a ride you had to go with him… I remember trying to sabotage him… I remember collecting all the frogs in a canoe… I remember throwing the tiny frogs back into the lake and seeing if they’d swim back… I remember the few who did… I remember the smell of low tide… I remember the hopeful tension of hunting for razor clams… I remember the excitement of seeing a stream of water spit out from the small hole in the ground… I remember the frenzied caution of digging quickly to catch the clam before it burrowed beyond my reach… I remember the triumph of feeling it and wrapping my hand around the clam… I remember the pain as I realized why they are called razor clams… I remember the panic as I saw my middle finger bleeding… I remember how uncomfortable it is to have someone apply too much pressure to a wound… I remember how interesting it was that I could write my name in the sand as the blood from my hand fell in small spots… I remember picking the sand out of my cut a few days later…