Cape Cod Journal: June 24

Sunday, June 24

A quahogger (clam digger) is ten yards out in the water, which is only 20 yards from our back porch. He wades diligently among the moored boats, using a six-foot rake to pry clams from the bottom, which he deposits in a bucket cleverly perched in an inner tube tethered to his waders. He reminds me of a human heron, stalking the shallows.

Welcome to Chatham on Cape Cod.

We’re on an inlet which leads into the bay. The air is shared by hawks and gulls, but no aircraft. The working boatyard adjoining us has characters out of central casting. At low tide you can walk along the inlet into town, which comprises about 12 blocks of expensive strollers, excruciatingly well-behaved dogs, and quite wealthy people (or people who are related to quite wealthy people). There are stores with names such as “Dolli Llama” and “Blue Fish Rub.” Everyone is extraordinarily polite. When we asked a strolling family about the nearest church, they cheerfully provided directions, as well as the astounding information that their relatives were among the foremost purveyors of votive candles to churches.

We arrived yesterday, in under two hours from East Greenwich, RI, thanks to GPS, or we’d still be searching. At lunch in the Wild Goose Tavern we heard two young women explain to a man at an adjoining table that one was attending Colgate, and the other Sienna. They were simply “taking the summer off here” since one owned a house in an adjoining town.

The “real” season starts locally on July 1 and ends at Labor Day. The famous, and magnificent, Chatham Bar Inn doesn’t even deign to open its main dining room until July. No one locks anything here, and I can’t even find the keys to the house we’ve rented. I’ve experienced this elsewhere, but nonetheless find it stunningly refreshing.

My wife and I believe (I’m sure incorrectly) that we’re probably the most ethnic couple in town, save for an African-American mother and her children whom we met when they stopped to admire our car at the beach. We had a wonderful dinner last night at the rustic (and jammed) Red Pheasant in the town of Dennis, where I believe we brought down both the average age and the average income.

There is a Gatsbyesque aura to this place. It is at once comfortable and discomfiting. I suppose I’m vaguely distrustful of a place where the dogs don’t bark….

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.


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