the seed for this day was started last week, when mandy put the idea into my head of visiting her in mattapoisett (southern massachusetts) one of these days for some fun in the sun. by the end of last week, i'd been checking the weather, trying to find the best day to take off from work and go down. all signs pointed to wednesday: while all the other days of the week were cloudy, wednesday was nothing but sunshine. all i needed now was a way to get down to mattapoisett. that opportunity came via alex wong, who needed me to drive him to logan airport wednesday morning and to take care of his car while he's in japan for the next three weeks. on monday i told katrinka and alex kates that i wouldn't be in the office on wednesday, giving no particular reason. so all the wheels were set in motion when wednesday finally arrived.
alex showed up at my place around 8am. he wanted to go across the street and get some breakfast from star market, but being the good friend that i am, i made him some chicken pot pie pocket ("made" as in heating it in the microwave for 3 minutes). we left 30 minutes later with me behind the wheels. alex seemed nervous, especially after he discovered my little plan of driving down to the cape after i dropped him off. he told me about the crack in the windshield, about a possible pressure imbalance in one of the wheels, and how he hasn't changed the oil in quite some time, all reasons to take it easy on his ford escort. unfortunately he had very little say in the matter, and like i said, the wheels were already in motion, and motion wheels don't stop just because of a cracked windshield. we got to logan airport 30 minutes later, traffic was surprisingly light so close to after peak rush hour. i dropped him off, we exchanged good byes, then i got back on I-93, destination mattapoisett.
i had with me directions i had gotten through mapquest, verified independently via maps, which i also brought with me. I-93 south to exit 4 onto route 24 south to exit 14A onto I-495 south to exit 1 onto I-195 west to exit 20 onto route 105 then onto route 6 west. the radio station was tuned into the oldies station, i had the air conditioner on, all was good in the world.
when i finally got to mandy's place, i felt i was far away from civilization. first of all, i could see the ocean (actually buzzard's bay). it wasn't just that i could see it, it was close enough that it seemed the water could hit the house. second, it was really quiet. there was a stillness in the air, a kind of calming peace that pervades everything in this town. despite the fact that the front door was opened, i rang the doorbell anyway, city habits.
mandy gave me a tour of the house. she'd been home alone for some time, her mother and her mother's boyfriend having gone to italy for vacation. mandy made me a blueberry smoothie (came out violet), which i quickly finished. besides the view outside (blue ocean, blue sky), i was most impressed with the backyard, particularly the "butterfly bush" which apparently did a pretty good job of attracting its namesake. i saw monarches and felt a certain kinship with them after having raised three this summer (only one successfully, and even then i wasn't able to see it fly away). butterfly flight seems so weird, like a piece of paper fluttering in the air, seemingly so effortless, like anyone could do it.
i went with mandy to the local post office because she needed to mail out a package (a wedding present). turns out the place she wants to send it to is actually in cambridge, and a part of cambridge close to where i live. the solution was obvious: "mandy, why don't i just hand-deliver this for you?" it was for the best anyway, since the box she had it in was a non-regulation enclosure and she needed to put it into another box before she could mail it out.
we returned to the house, where mandy did some invoice checking on her ibook, and later i checked my e-mail. even though it was a day where i was trying to get away from civilization, the urge to check e-mail was too strong. next, mandy took me down to the shore, so i could see the "beach". there was sand (a single lawn chair and a bag of empty beer cans evidence of a recent one person party), but along the water it was mostly large boulders forming a stony pier sticking out into the water, as well as a dense carpet of seaweed. the water did not look too inviting. mandy's fearlessness has always impressed me, and once again she was able to demonstrate her risky behaviour by walking out onto the bed of seaweed floating on the water. i slowly followed behind her, the "ground" squishy wet with each step, leaving foot prints.
since we wanted to go to a real beach, we'd have to go elsewhere. that elsewhere would turn out to be wellfleet about 60 miles away on the cape, where mandy's father has an empty summer home beckoning us to come visit. we left mattapoisett, making a brief detour in search of a fabled neighboring pig farm that turned out to be untrue. mandy had written directions she found online while i did the driving. occasionally she'd ask how i was doing, or let me know that we were almost there. we stopped at a roadside convenience store when we entered the town of wellfleet because mandy had a yearning for an apple. besides the store, there was also a surf shop and a local post office. i bought something to drink and some candy, as well as a postcard (featuring a lobster), which mandy and i both wrote a little something before i sent it to myself as a souvenir of today's little adventure.
mandy's father's place was a rustic little house built on top of a hill that descended into the grassy dunes followed by a wide stretch of beach before the blue waters of the atlantic ocean. the cabin had that smell of seaside houses, salty and slightly musty. mandy herself hadn't been at the house for at least two years even though she spent a lot of childhood summers here, so it was nostalgic for her. we got changed into our beachwear then walked down to the beach. the entire time we were down there i don't think we saw more than a dozen people. i love deserted beaches more than i do crowded beaches, it has that unspoiled flavor, walking on the fresh tide-swept sandy beach, like the feeling i get when i walk on new snow.
we walked a little bit further up along the beach before we camped out, unfurling our towels. in the distance were some surfers enjoying the high tide waves. mandy wasted little time and made a beeline towards the boys in their wetsuits and surfboards, asking them some advice on how and where to learn surfing. while she was doing that, i was making my way towards the ocean, the waves tugging at my legs. that's when it hit me: i'm supposed to be at work today! isn't it amazing? for that brief moment, standing in the ocean, on the beach, a perfectly cloudless blue sky above, the sun shining on my face, i was just enjoying life. everyone should play hooky from work one day during the summer and go to the beach, the sensation is indescribable.
because the beach directly faces the atlantic ocean, the shoreline is nearly devoid of debris. further inland you can find some dried seaweed, some shells, and a surprising abundance of crab skeletons. the only thing you can find on the tide-washed beach are little tiny pebbles polished smooth by the ocean. i collected a few for souvenirs. mandy and i tried going into the water but it was too cold. i did a quick dip up to my neck but jumped back out of the water, squealing as i ran back on shore.
we walked even further up the beach, who knows how far, maybe half a mile, maybe more, until we came to the beach directly below the beachcomber restaurant. we crawled up the dune, hoping to get something to drink or eat at the restaurant even though neither of us had any money on us. unfortunately, the place was closed for the season, its windows already boarded up in preparation for the new england winter soon to arrive. we walked back to mandy's father's place, on the road this time, which made for better traveling versus plodding along the beach.
after changing back into our civilian togs, we left the house and went out to find a place where i could get some fried clams, which was all that i was talking about ever since i got there. we passed many clam houses, but they were all closed for the season. i was ready to give up until we came upon the last place on this stretch of road that just happened to be opened for business. i got a large dish full of fried clam strips for $15. mandy got a small cup of fish chowder. even with mandy's help, we could only finish half of the clams, so i ended up bringing the rest of it home.
driving back to mattapoisett, the sun was slowly setting. we stopped off at a super stop & shop in wareham to get some ingredients for tonight's raw food dinner. i was surprised by how big the stop & shop was; i figured since we were so far away from the city, that everything would be small scale. after getting some gas for the car ($1.50/gallon, much cheaper than the $1.80/gallon in cambridge), we got back to mandy's mother's place.
dinner came in the form of a raw food dish. when i think raw i think uncooked meats, but mandy discovered this new vegetarian diet that considers raw food anything that's uncooked,
after dinner we sat in the living room watching tv and drinking hot tea. mandy made some peanut butter gelato, mixing several jars of crunchy peanut butter with a whole bottle of maple syrup. it was the first time making this recipe and she wasn't sure if it was going to work. unfortunately, i had to leave before the ice cream was ready, despite mandy's insistance that i stay for the night, if not the whole day tomorrow. i was afraid of getting caught in that inbound traffic during the morning rush hour, so better leave while there's no traffic.
leaving her place, i was amazed by how dark the sky was. the milky way could easily be seen, and there were so many stars in the sky that i couldn't even pick out the common constellations amidst the sea of twinkling dots. what i wouldn't give to spent the night just stargazing under absolutely dark skies! driving out of her street, my headlight bounced off of something LARGE in the distance. i had a pretty good idea of what it was, and my high beams verified the fact that there were two deers walking through the neighbor's yard, grazing off of a tree. for some reason i was scared. i know deers are harmless, but just the fact that they were lurking around in the darkness, plus their shear size (the towered over the car), made them seem scary somehow. further out, my headlights picked out a small cat-like creature walking the edge of the street, which was probably a fox.
i left at 11:30pm and didn't make it back to cambridge until 1am. before going home, i stopped off at cvs to pick up my prescription and a few other supplies. this is the latest i've been to this cvs, it really is opened 24/7!