Buzzard's Bay is cold enough now for the smell of its salt to permeate the wind. By November the oaks along the shore will have turned, but now the duff beneath the pines has a layer of fresh needles and the shrubs are the color of green amber. The low angled light of late afternoon brings out all the highlights in the sand and beach grass.
This weekend was made for Fall sailing, but there were very few who took advantage of it on Buzzard's Bay. It was warm enough, even at night, to be comfortable under blankets without needing to turn on the heat, which in the big red house by the sea is not a one step process. Only part of the Windrock house is winterized, and the upstairs hall needs to be partitioned by a sheet of plywood - known to us as the Wall of Jericho - to isolate the warm part from the cold.
We awoke in the last hours of darkness last weekend to see the winter constellations advancing from the East, and Jupiter with three of its moons shining in the cloudless night. We headed down Cape to Eastham and Wellfleet, finding the tide so high at the latter place that cars parked too close to the shore were up to their wheel wells in salt water and the trail to Great Island submerged at its very beginning. Nothing daunted, we hiked instead at the Fort Hilll and Red Maple Swamp trails in Eastham, and gazed out over Nauset Marsh. Little wonder that Champlain found this vast salt water wetland ringed with native habitations as he explored the coast in 1605. Little wonder, too, that he found it treacherous to navigate and named it Mallebar.
Cape Codders have the sea in their blood, and the old cemeteries record many among the lost and drowned. This stone lies in Wellfleet's Duck Creek Cemetery, and records the deaths of two half brothers: one drowned in a harbor on the north shore of Prince Edward Island and the other lost from ther Schooner "Telegraph" in an arm of the St. Lawrence between the Gaspé Peninsula and New Brunswick.
I love this time of year at the shore, when the crowds have withdrawn and the sun is bright and the wind is not yet honed by winter ice. There are crimson creepers in the trees, and asters among broom sedge tussocks attracting the late butterflies. Apple mint is still green by the pump, and woodsmoke drifts from the first laid fires. It has a beauty all its own, the brown beach glass and gray driftwood and the pink flecked granite that the glaciers left behind. I love the great show of the sugar maple that shuns the shore, but I love as well these autumn days of blue water and low angled light when russet and straw are in their glory.