A foggy, rainy day on post-Christmas Cape Cod. Everything about being at home is annoying. The sink is clogged. The cats are unaffectionate. A fifty dollar gift certificate to the bookstore is burning a hole in my pocket.
Too many other people have the same idea, so it’s off to the back roads to avoid the traffic. It’s getting foggier. I find myself in Eastham, meandering around abandoned cranberry bogs and empty beach houses.
At times like this I usually go to Fort Hill, but today I turn towards Coast Guard Beach. Haven’t been here in years, I know, but as I approach the main house:
I realize I haven’t been here since my fifth grade class spent a week living in this building. I remember clam chowder in the dining room, dune jumping with Mr. Monaghan, and that cute boy Alex Boyers breaking his rib on a rock while playing touch football.
I try to find the rock.
There are tourists here, but they are the quiet, reverential type, and we give each other a wide berth as we cross paths on the beach. Some boys are surfing further down the shore. the waves are high and it is loud.
I realize it is a day for making a large batch of quahog chowder, for standing at the kitchen sink and shucking clams, for licking the clam juice off my fingers and nibbling on smoked bluefish and crackers while the potatoes simmer.
The waves crash around my ankles and the cuffs of my jeans are now wet. Sockless, my feet are crusted with sand from the winter beach.
A pleasant, low drone of silence enters my mind, breathes, expands, and forces out the chatter that had been rattling around for days. Waves crashing, clam broth simmering. A briny, windy peace.