Some places on Cape Cod never change. In the late 1950s and 1960s my family and I spent one week each summer in North Truro. We rented a housekeeping cottage and did then what families still do today. We swam at Head of the Meadow Beach. We drove out to Race Point to watch the sunsets. We visited Highland Light where my father sketched the lighthouse so he could paint it later. I remember being able to drive fairly close to the lighthouse and then we had to walk to get closer to it.
In late July this year my husband and I joined other family members for a vacation in Orleans. One day my husband and I took a day trip to my favorite childhood places. The Highland Light was one of those places. Today the parking lot seems farther away from the lighthouse and the walk to the overlook seems different, but it’s well worth the view. I walked to the overlook alone since my husband is still using a walker to get around after he fractured his pelvis in five places in early July. Walking that same path I had walked on as a child felt lonely now. My dad and my sister are deceased and my mother is in a nursing home.
After snapping some photos of the lighthouse, I drove to the Head of the Meadow Beach. I don’t remember the beach access being so treacherous, but the building housing the restrooms and changing areas looked the same. It was a difficult climb to the beach itself for my husband using his walker, and I now regret suggesting we go there. It was hard for me also carrying the beach chairs and towels. I don’t remember it being such a difficult walk to the beach as a child, so perhaps the beach access has changed. I know I would remember if signs were posted years ago warning of sharks like they were on our recent visit. Sharks were swimming in closer to shore because of all the seals that are now a common sight among the swimmers. Not only were signs posted; a swimmer had apparently just spotted a baby shark which was then captured by a man using his small boat. The shark was a great attraction as it lay on the beach surrounded by tourists snapping pictures with their i-phones. We didn’t have i-phones when I was a child or captured sharks lying on the beach. It seemed like life was simpler then before all the electronics and climate changes.
No matter when one visits the Cape, the magic is always there. Even with the changing environment, the shifting sand dunes, the new seafood shacks and ice cream parlors, there is the same feeling of comfort the ocean always brings to one. On our recent trip, my grandchildren swam in the same waters of my childhood and walked on the Skaket Beach tidal pools at low tide just before sunset to catch baby crabs and tiny fish, my three-year-old granddaughter picking up the crabs and talking to them (Don’t bite me, crab!). They danced to the music at beach concerts in Chatham and licked ice cream cones at the end of the day.
I will always have my memories of my childhood vacations on the Cape. Now my grandchildren are creating memories of their own. Life on the Cape in many ways will never change.