Local Color

The women in my family have always been pretty hardcore bookworms. From my great grandmother on down, every single one of the females of the line has been known for staying up until all hours of the night, devouring books like they were goddamn candy.

And my mother and I have very similar tastes in writing, so we pass books by our favorite authors back and forth, dishing about the ones we like and don’t like, stories that worked and characters that didn’t, and so on.

So it made sense to celebrate Mother’s Day this year with a little shopping expedition to one of our favorite local independent bookstores, the Brewster Book Store, on Route 6A in Brewster. Love that place.

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I was delighted to see an article about local historical fiction author Sally Gunning featured prominently, right behind the cash register.

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…along with a nice assortment of signed copies of her books not too far away.

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I had to check in on their Bronte/Austen/Alcott shelf, of course. Lovely selection of new cover art:

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And they’re even selling signed posters by my friendĀ Chris Seufert, who not only does splendid landscape photography (books, too), but also produces rather crackerjack headshots. He’s also married to another pretty phenomenal local author, Lisa Genova. I do love the way local bookstores rock the local color.

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So I bought Mom a gift certificate at the bookstore for Mother’s Day, and then we both sort of ran wild with the browsing. Here’s Mom doing a little in-depth investigation on a book she ended up buying:

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After we were done with the retail therapy, we parted ways — she went home to take a nap, and I set off in the opposite direction to stretch my legs in one of my very favorite places to go rambling, Fort Hill in Eastham.

I hardly need add that this kind of a grey, blustery day was just the sort of day I most prefer to walk through places like this. Right? Right.

If you’ve never been to Fort Hill before, it’s one of those places that is just off of the busiest road through town, but once you’re there, it’s like you’re in another century. Nothing but the sound of birds, wind, and surf. And very, very few people.

Want to go for a walk with me? Sure you do.

First, we’ll walk down the crushed-shell pathway from the tiny parking lot on the top of the hill, following our noses to the salt marsh and the sea beyond.

Seriously, you can’t miss that smell. It’s the best smell on earth.

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I always take a left at the fork…

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…because this path takes you alongside a broad, untouched meadow littered with ancient stone walls to the left of you…

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…while to your right lies Nauset Marsh and the Atlantic Ocean. Beyond that? Portugal.

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So we walk down the path, our heads swiveling back and forth between meadow on the left and marsh on the right:

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And some of the very best bits are the little scraps of life that cling to the shore just at the border between land and sea. Right now, for instance, everything is just starting to come into bud:

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This will be a big, blowsy red beach rose soon:

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There’s something about this kind of bark that reminds me of growing up on Cape Cod, surrounded by scrub pines and raggedy old juniper trees:

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You can follow the path deeper into the woods, where the Cape Cod National Seashore maintains a beautiful path through a red maple swamp.

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Sadly, the boardwalk through the swamp was closed today. Seriously, you should see this swamp. It sounds unappealing (it’s a swamp? I can hear you muttering), but it is ridiculously, insanely magical. Especially in spring, when all the sweet-smelling wild roses are in bloom all around you. Indescribable.

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Closed! Danger! You shall not pass!

But there are always compensatory delights, if you know where to look.

Look! Fiddleheads!

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Tiny white flowers in a miniature grove:

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And, of course, the stunning view, always lurking just over your shoulder:

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After poking our noses all up in mother nature’s grill for a while, we leave the woods and return to the meadow trail, with its dreamy old stone walls following us around like a pack of pesky little brothers:

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and breathe a great sigh of relief that we live in (or at least have friends we can visit with in) a place of such quiet intense beauty, even as our sighs are swallowed up by the brackety, rackety old wind.

4 Thoughts.

  1. My pleasure! And you know that this is all a thinly veiled attempt to lure you here all the sooner for a visit. Yep, it’s all part of my Dastardly Secret Plan.

  2. A gorgeous bookshop (I love the old-style sign), and thanks for taking us all on such a beautiful walk! I didn’t know the term “fiddleheads” for bracken fern (what we call it in the UK, although someone may stop along and tell me I’ve mis-named it!) but it’s so appropriate!

  3. I just had to comment because I wrote that newspaper story about Sally Gunning! The Brewster Bookstore is simply wonderful. I’m glad you and your mother had such a nice Mother’s Day. Funny, my son and I recently took a walk at Fort Hill and I took alot of the same photos you did. You have a wonderful blog and now I can’t wait to check out the Cape Cod Chat House. Happy writing!

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