Dropped by a retreating glacier on the Atlantic’s wild edge, Cape Cod has always offered a shifting landscape. As the sea takes a bit here and deposits a chunk there, the landscape is ever changing, yet somehow always the same.
Every winter sand from other places washes into Barnstable Harbor spurring off Barnstable’s annual harbor dredge. Some coastal change is predictable, and some is totally random, like the nor’ easter that broke the bulkhead in Barnstable Harbor, or the time Hurricane Bob left a wrack line of destroyed boats across the south side and littered the streets with scallops for the taking.
Cape Codders might not be completely shocked by the inevitable coastal shift brought on by climate change because it is a part of the natural condition of their shoreline and their marshes. They are used to inhabiting the liminal space between land and sea, and they and their stories are inextricably bound to it.
As I writer, I call in that space to create.
The Great Marsh is a wild space bridging the sea to solid land. It is a sacred space from the point of creation because it is unconcerned with the mundane cares of the solid land behind it.
It is a fluid place for shifting between realms, where poems can be written, paintings painted, and universes created.
It is perhaps why artists traditionally flock to the Cape, that and the light cast by short trees and reflecting seas, which looks a lot like the light you can still see in the fields of Holland to understand what inspired the Great Masters’ work.