Wild Turkeys, Cranberry Sauce, and Owl Magic

For Thanksgiving, assume abundance.

If you live in New England, have you noticed small dogs sound deceptively like wild turkeys? The dog next door sure had me fooled first thing this morning. I mistook his rumbling bark for turkey chortles, and thought of the old joke: They’re almost ready for Thanksgiving!

Then I remembered I am 3,000 miles away from Cape Cod, and there are no bands of wild turkeys wandering the Dutch landscape.


It was almost Thanksgiving, so it seemed like a good time to wander down to the weekly market in our village outside of Amsterdam for some crucial cooking supplies. You can never be sure what you’ll find in the outdoor market, but I went there assuming an abundance of everything I needed.

Especially cranberries.

I find that if I want to attract the thing I need, I first have to assume there is an abundance of that thing available:

“The best thing we can do is ditch the scarcity mentality. Scarcity is the fear of too little. If you apply this fear to yourself, you set yourself up to experience it because you are sending out the energy that calls scarcity back to you.”

me, in Owl Magic:  Your Guide Through Challenging Times


So I entered the market fray full of my own advice and the assumption I’d find lots of cranberries. 

I circled the greengrocer’s stall twice, and there was nary a cranberry to be seen. 

I took a deep breath.

I’d have to ask, so I consulted Google translate for the Dutch word for cranberry and tried it out on the guy selling vegetables. He couldn’t have been nicer, but he had no idea what I wanted.

Finally, I told him the English word is cranberries, and he understood immediately and said he was sure there had been some earlier, and after much to-ing and fro-ing, he tracked down his colleague-in-charge of cranberries, who revealed a stash half-hidden under a large tarp. 

Six bags labeled Ocean Spray had become wet and been deemed unsaleable.  

Just to be sure I understood, I confirmed they had been ruined by water. They had.

And that is how I ended up with several pounds of perfect cranberries for a rock bottom price just in time for Thanksgiving far away in the Netherlands.

Ditching the scarcity mentality works. 

The cranberries are native to my own home, but my conscience is not completely easy. I should probably return to the market to explain cranberries are made for water. The natural habitat of the cranberry is a bog, which is flooded with water to make them float for harvest. 

Especially since once the greengrocer heard I was American he told me how he loves America, and about the time he went to New York.


Flooded cranberry bog by Cape Cod photographer Carole Corcoran

I spent the weekend making cranberry bread and cranberry sauce. My sauce recipe comes from the Peter Hunt Cookbook, a Cape Cod classic found in second-hand bookstores and private bookshelves across the Cape.




You can produce an entire Thanksgiving dinner from this book if you have to.  Here is my classic, super easy Peter Hunt recipe for perfect cranberry sauce.

Just make sure you keep the cranberries dry.







Happy Thanksgiving.





Read more about Cape Cod



Read more about abundance


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Deep Listening

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about how I write. I listen deeply, and then the floodgates open.

The landscape is different but always the same. The tide is high or low, lapping the shore or booming chased by the wind, but always the tide. The sand is a soft carpet, a million tiny pieces worn from parent rocks of distant times, sometimes wet, sometimes dry, but always under your feet.

I’ve heard the sand whistle.

A fish washes up, a keening gull drops a clam, it smashes on the low tide rocks, and a meal is served.

The crows are a Greek chorus, chortling from low trees.

Your feet splash and leave prints on the flats that are gone when you return.

These are the sounds of poetry.

Deep listening on the ocean

To write a poem, you must listen deeply and inhabit your subject.

Befriend a tree. Sit with it and listen. In time you’ll hear its story, and if you listen well, you might, for a time, become the tree.

It’s a form of shapeshifting.

The magic is in the listening and the becoming. Become your subject, and return to write about it.

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about how I write. I listen deeply, and then the floodgates open.

I’ve been driving through traffic and said to the child in the backseat, quick! find a piece of paper and a pen, write this down! Luckily the car always provides the needed materials.

I’ve jumped out of the bathtub with an entire new poem. Water seems to aid creation, and why not? We come from the sea, and we float in water for our first nine months.

I have fragments scribbled on napkins, envelopes, and pretty much anything to hand. It looks messy, but it isn’t.

This is what a first draft looks like

Walk the place you love most each day.

Listen. Watch. Inhabit.

I am not on the ocean right now, so I am listening deeply inland, along freshwater woods and fields. At first, it didn’t smell right, no salt, and I didn’t know the birds.

Freshwater deep listening

But I’m listening and slowly shifting, and new things are coming.

You can read Mary Petiet’s poems in Moon Tide and Owl Magic.

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All shall be well

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

It’s been a long week of political uncertainty with second lockdowns casting their shadow. We are perhaps finding that life does indeed happen while we make other plans.

We are not the first to experience this.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about an earlier pandemic and time of unrest, and the surprisingly relevant legacy of a fourteenth century anchorite who overcame dark times with faith in love and a kind of yoga she called Body Prayer.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  ~Julian of Norwich

I think we could all use a little bit of Julian of Norwich at the moment because her experience can stand us well today.

The following is an excerpt from my new book Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Challenging Times:

We find ourselves living in uncertain times

In Europe, the end of the fourteenth century was also a harrowing time. One-third of the population died of bubonic plague as the Hundred Years War raged and the church split between rival popes.

 
Like today, the structures people assumed were permanent began to vanish. And like today, a certain kind of wisdom helped people survive the uncertainty.

Think of it as Owl Wisdom.

Owls have a quiet about them, allowing them to observe and notice. They embody an independence that lets them forge ahead with the vision to see the way. They occupy the moment and work with what they have. They soar above the fray.

Here is the owl wisdom you can apply to your situation, the same wisdom women mystics of earlier times tapped into as their worlds convulsed.

In the late fourteenth century, one mystic found peace in the storm by finding a connection to a loving God through something she called Body Prayer. Her name was Julian of Norwich, and what she called Body Prayer looks a lot like modern yoga. 

It is also full of owl wisdom

As an anchorite at the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England, Julian of Norwich would have been at home with the idea of social isolation. An anchorite chooses a solitary life to cultivate internal focus.

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Julian of Norwich, Stained Glass Window from St. Julian’s Church, Norwich, photo by Evelyn Simak


Quarantine? No problem

Her real name is lost to the ages, but it is almost certain she lost her husband and children to the plague and nearly died of it herself. While ill, she experienced a series of visions about the nature of love, which redefined her connection to God and faith in goodness through awful times.

 She described her experience in the first known book in English written by a woman. It was called Revelations of Divine Love.

She was surprisingly modern. As her contemporaries worshiped a harsh patriarchal god, Julian of Norwich called in a radically feminine deity that added motherhood and love to the equation. Her god was both father and mother, and, as the transcendentalists would centuries later, she saw God in everything as she declared salvation universal.

Here is an expression of our next law straight out of an earlier time of pandemic and social upheaval:

The Universal Law of Love: The force that binds everything together.
It is not romantic love. It is the energy behind the Law of Connection. It is unconditional and all accepting. It is the opposite of fear.

Think of it like gravity.

It is the glue that can hold us together, individually and collectively, through tumultuous times.

Every situation presents a choice of action. Imagine what happened when Julian of Norwich’s life was derailed by bubonic plague. In no time at all, she lost her family and all the trappings of active, worldly life in medieval Norwich. She could easily have reverted to fear, the opposite of love, and simply ceased to be.

What sustained her in her Time Between?

Love.

Our lives have also changed rapidly. Within one week, most of us found ourselves in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus. It was a scene repeated all over the planet. Maybe some of us have been sick or lost loved ones. Some of us are sheltering in place comfortably. Some of us are suffering, some of us are dying, and some of us are leaving quarantine and picking up the pieces in a changed world roiling with political instability. For all of us, the futures we planned are uncertain.

What can sustain us in our Time Between?

Love.

The Pose & The Meditation: Body Prayer

Stand firmly on your yoga mat. Body Prayer consists of a series of four standing poses. First, initiate your prana breath, breathe deeply, in and out. Then shift your focus.

• Await – the posture of receiving. Hold your hands open at waist level. You are welcoming the presence of God or your highest self. 

• Allow – this is the posture of opening. Reach up with your hands open to welcome the coming of God’s presence or the presence of your own highest self. 

• Accept – the posture of taking. Cup your hands at your heart and take in whatever comes.

• Attend – this is the posture of willingness to act on what has been given. Extend your hands with palms open.

Await, allow, accept, attend. Repeat the sequence while maintaining the breath.

Read more about Julian of Norwich in Owl Magic, your toolbox for challenging times.

  • Guided meditation
  • Yoga
  • Stories & Poems
  • Writing Prompts

Times of change are the times of greatest transformation.

Owl Magic

Persephone picks 

a handful of flowers

from a warm spring field 

and seeks their seeds within.

Persephone travels 

willingly or not,

with Hades deep below the earth,

owl-led each year

to the place where seeds are born.

And so Persephone finds the seeds of one potential:

 ice caps melting, tides flooding, 

refugees moving, oceans choked with plastic,

animals dying, a dying planet,

pandemic.

And travels owl-led

ever deeper into the underworld

seeking seeds for better potential,

and in the darkest underworld 

she finds a ripened pomegranate,

the Ur seed of new beginnings

from earth’s deep womb,

bursting with the smallest 

red seeds of potential 

ready to sprout.

~ Mary Petiet, excerpt from Owl Magic

This blog was inspired by my brand new book Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Challenging Times.

Available Now

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Praise for Owl Magic

A new title for a new moment. Combining the creative force of the feminine divine with the wisdom of the owl, this book guides you through the anxiety of the current moment. Owl Magic helps reclaim your intuitive power so you can build a better future from the position of your highest self.
~ SHERIANNA BOYLE, AUTHOR OF EMOTIONAL DETOX FOR ANXIETY

Owl Magic takes you gently by the hand and leads you to deeper self-awareness and self-actualization through stories, myths, meditations, and writing prompts, inviting us to peel back the layers of who we are and how we navigate an imperfect world so we can step into our true power.
~RACHEL JEPSON WOLF, AUTHOR OF THE UNPLUGGED FAMILY ACTIVITY BOOK & HERBAL ADVENTURES

About Owl Magic

Times of change are the times of greatest transformation. 

  • Meet today’s challenges with the life-affirming power of your own intuition. 
  • Open the Owl Magic toolbox of simple anxiety-busting strategies designed to reveal your hidden power. 
  • Journey at your own pace through guided meditations, stories, poems, yoga poses, and writing prompts. 
  • This unique interactive guide provides many routes to your highest self so you can seize the incredible potential of the present moment.

What seeds are you planting now?

The autumn dark descends earlier each twilight, but that doesn’t have to leave you cold.

Now is the time for deep interior work. The early dark signals the great turning within, the ancestral soul-seeking, the ancient memory tugging at the edge of the psyche as the afternoon fades and the moon peeks over the clouds.

Brew your tea. Cast your spells, sit within your quiet, and choose your focus, for what you focus on will surely grow.

Where I am in the Netherlands the dark comes early indeed. But the Dutch have a tradition of keeping things cozy, so the night is lit with flickering candles and met with warmth inside. It is time to reflect and take stock, and as we face increasingly challenging times ahead, it is time to care for ourselves and each other.

Persephone by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The descent is necessary so the return can happen.

In descending, find your ripest, most potent pomegranate seeds, and bring them back safely to plant them in fertile soil that they may flourish. Our job right now is to find the seeds, our mission to plant them well, and our goal to see them grow.

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About Mary Petiet

Mary Petiet writes with a passion for connecting and empowering women to live from their highest selves.

She is the author of Minerva’s Owls and Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems, and a contributor to the anthologies Jesus, Muhammad, and the GoddessShe Rises, vol.2, and Awaken the Feminine!: Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth. Her work has appeared in Feminism and ReligionSage WomanThe Wayfarer, and she is a contributor to Mother House of the Goddess.

Join Mary on Facebook or online at www.marypetiet.com and be the first to hear about her new books. She loves to hear from readers at marypetiet@gmail.com and is available for work with book groups and online readings. If you love Owl Magic, please be sure to tell your friends and leave a review on Amazon and Good Reads.

Cat Poems

No birds were hurt in the writing of this blog.

Fall winds are blowing in the Netherlands. It rained and hailed last night, and the dark is falling earlier.  The recent equinox of September 22 offered a rare moment of balance in an increasingly unbalanced world, and I for one grabbed it!

Fall is subtle here. It creeps in on foggy cat feet as the trees turn slowly russet and yellow. 

Dutch fall

At the moment, the huge old oak behind my house is welcoming hundreds of swallows as they migrate south to warmer climes. My cat watches them, but his hopes are thwarted by the warning bell he wears around his neck, the unfortunate consequence of hunting too well.

The cat’s name is Pip and he started life in a parking lot in Hyannis on Cape Cod, from which he was rescued as a very small kitten. Later, I brought him home from the SPCA because I needed a good mouser in my old farmhouse. Later still, Pip made the trip to the Netherlands with us and now he is a popular sight in the neighborhood. 

If he could speak, he’d probably tell you the bell on his collar is his biggest problem. 

Pip

Pip’s prowess as a hunter is legendary. I imagine he has quite a reputation in cat circles, so I wrote a short poem about him in Moon Tide called Four Feathers, after the gift he very proudly left me early one morning several falls ago.

Pip’s bell warns the birds effectively of his approach, so I can guarantee no birds were hurt in the writing of this blog.

Read more in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

Time, Rocks, and Endurance

When you sit on my porch you’re really sitting with Rock.

A long time ago, a retreating glacier left a huge rock in my front yard.

Rock

For all I know, 

Rock goes deep into the earth

possibly emerging in China…

~Excerpts are from the poem Rock in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

When you sit on my porch you’re really sitting with Rock. In summer, soft green lichen covers its top. In winter it stands above the snowline, and kids like to climb upon it playing king of the mountain. 

We live atop a scene of ancient devastation.

A long time ago, Cape Cod was born of retreating ice.

Before the trees, the road, and the house, the rock was here, and after all of today’s uncertainties, the rock will still be here.

Like the sky above and the ocean that surrounds the Cape, Rock sits in mute testament to endurance.

The sky and the ocean.

Does Rock remember?

Perhaps. 

Do we remember?

Absolutely.

Low tide reveals ancient glacial rocks on a Cape Cod beach.

To sit with rock is to remember the long game, the endless bend and stretch of time. Rock is of the eons and surely full of stories.

We are of this moment, and also full of stories, and we share with Rock this capacity to endure. 

Read Rock’s whole story in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Dog Tales

You can never be sure what you’ll find…

Every so often, Cape Codders think about declaring an independent state. It’s a fine idea. The place is unique enough to warrant statehood, but it hasn’t flown yet.

It’s really just a big beach.

As Labor Day weekend winds down, I’m wondering from an off-Cape vantage if instead of statehood, the Cape shouldn’t have its own calendar.

Cape Codders know fall does not start locally with the equinox on the astronomical first day of fall, which occurs this year on September 22. Instead, it begins on Labor Day weekend when summer people depart, and locals get the place back again.

It’s a magical moment of sudden quiet at the end of a long, hot, busy summer.

It’s also the moment dogs are allowed back on the beach, and there is nothing finer than beachcombing with a good dog. You can never be sure what you’ll find.

My black pointer lab mix Daisy loved the ocean, and I think her best find ever was a large quahog she dug out of the low tide flats. When she trotted back to me with this treasure, I opened it with a rock, and she savored every bite of the delicate meat inside. She loved seafood.

I have found all kinds of things on the beach over the years, and the best find is always a horseshoe crab because they are so rare now. The worst is litter. Some of it’s useful, such as the new life jacket I found wedged by the tide into a breakwater. Some of it’s tragic, like the dead seal that washed up occasioning a visit from the environmental police, and some of it’s just plain sad, like the garbage.

Most of the time Cape beaches are beautiful and pristine. You find the odd bit of plastic and pick it up, problem solved. But once, a few falls ago after Labor Day, we were out walking the beach on an incoming moon tide driven by a strong northeast wind, and I found more trash than we could carry. It was a stark reminder of two things: the oncoming winter and what is floating around out there that shouldn’t be.

So I wrote a poem about it.

Special Labor Day Reading of the poem Beach Debris, from Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Moon Tide tells Cape Cod stories and is available on Amazon.

Dog Wise

We can embrace the beauty of the moment…

Black Dog lives entirely in the moment now

running the beach

with no thought of later and before

no what if, no regret…~ from Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

The two things that separate us from the animals are what might teach us the most: Animals have a different sense of self, and they live entirely in the moment.

Encountering life on those terms could open up a whole new reality.

Once I knew a dog called Daisy. She was a black pointer lab mix with a white bib, and she didn’t stay with me because I made her, she stayed because she chose to.

We were friends, and she had many lessons to teach me.

Have you ever watched an animal look at its reflection in a mirror? It is unable to connect the image it sees with itself. 

Daisy knew to eat and sleep and keep herself well. But her animal self-preservation never extended beyond that to the point she made others suffer for her benefit.

Imagine people doing that.

Daisy also lived entirely in the present moment.

We can’t do that, memory and time work differently for us, but it has something to teach us.

We can embrace the beauty of the moment and not let regret for the past and fear for the future ruin it. 

Especially now, as we face unprecedented times.

…Only Black Dog beach and sky

The eternal now, now, now. ~From Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

Read more about the Black Dog in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems. Available now.

Bouillabaisse Stories

 

The clan gathers for a summer family reunion. It’s a beautiful beach day, and my grandfather’s second wife is treating us to lunch at the Black Pearl, Newport Rhode Island’s classic seaside dining spot.

 

The Black Pearl puts poetry in the chowder and fries fish to write home about. But our host is rich as Croesus, and also stingy, so everyone is ordering hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches.

 

When asked what I want, I say the bouillabaisse. I am six years old.

 

Bouillabaisse is associated with the southern French town of Marseille but may have even earlier origins in ancient Greece. The classic fish stew was how fishermen fed themselves by utilizing the shellfish and boney fish they couldn’t sell to restaurants by boiling it in garlic and fennel to make a savory stew at the end of a long day’s fishing.

 

In time, as Marseille became rich with tourists, the simple fisher-fare made its way to resort tables with the addition of saffron and tomatoes.

 

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A bowl of bouillabaisse.

On the French Rivera, the seaside town of Frejus launches fireworks every night. Imagine Van Gogh’s sunflower phase, and you’re pretty much in Frejus. The colors, the sea, and the tastes! At the end of another sunny summer day, my husband and I found our way to a tiny restaurant in Frejus under a train track famous for serving only bouillabaisse.

 

We weren’t sure what we getting into, but the trains turned out to be few and far between, and the bouillabaisse to die for. It was served by an ancient lady in separate courses, first the broth, and then the fish.  Redolent with saffron and filled with cockles I had never eaten before, it was food for the gods.       The ancient lady serves us until we can eat no more.

 

It is my 28th birthday.

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I learned to make bouillabaisse on Cape Cod in an effort to recreate the one we loved so much in Frejus. It turns out Cape Cod has its own recipe made to suit the local fish.  This is one of the few recipes I have the patience to follow, and I do it so I don’t muddle the flavor and waste pounds of seafood and many threads of precious saffron.

 

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I never share recipes, but this is an exception. From the Cape Cod Fish & Seafood Cookbook.

I was pretty much able to recreate the French bouillabaisse we ate so many years ago in Frejus with the help of the recipe and the addition of fresh New England fish.

 

Instead of the strange cockles in the French use, Cape Codders add Littleneck clams. We also add shrimp, but only the carefully deveined tails. We have ample summer tomatoes, and garlic and fennel, and sometimes, when I’m feeling a little wild, I’ve been known to add sweet summer corn to my Bouillabaisse, because why not?

 

This summer, I have found myself stuck in Amsterdam due to COVID-19.  Since it’s my birthday again, and I’m turning 28 again, I spent a recent evening cooking with friends.

 

Right now things in the Netherlands are pretty normal, so it was no problem to haul out my favorite book of Cape Cod fish recipes and get to work.

 

I cook Bouillabaisse about once a summer, and it’s a big undertaking fit for a celebration. This time, I was hoping to bring the Cape Cod recipe to the Netherlands, and one step further away from France while maintaining the vital essence of the Bouillabaisse.

 

The Dutch do not have Littleneck clams.

 

This makes me sad, but I found tiny Venus clams and hoped for the best.

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Venus Clams.

Shrimp come whole in the Netherlands, and since there is a local tradition of boiling and serving shrimp that way, I just chucked them in the pot, with heads and shells intact.

 

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Whole Shrimp.

A firm white fish is essential. Do not add oily fish, it will ruin the dish. I was lucky to find cod on sale.

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Cut the fish into small portions.

The heavy ripe field tomatoes you want for the sauce are hard to come by in this land of efficient greenhouses, so I grabbed the only can of tomatoes I saw in the store that day. The plot thickened with the sauce when I realized they were cherry tomatoes.

 

Have you ever seen a can of cherry tomatoes? I can tell you now they’re actually quite good.

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Canned cherry tomatoes.
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Don’t skimp on the garlic.
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You need good fish stock.
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Adding the fish stock.

Rouille, the classic red sauce that tops a traditional bouillabaisse, is one of the things that keeps the essence of France alive in the recipe. The other is saffron.

 

Rouille is basically mayonnaise with red peppers, lots of garlic, and a shot of tabasco. If bouillabaisse leaves you with a fine garlic hangover, it’s because of the rouille.

 

Use your Cuisinart to make the rouille to ensure you hit peak emulsification.

 

The rouille works with the croutons you make from french bread slices to make the dish taste very, very French.

 

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Adding olive to the rouille sauce.

The trickiest bit is really the timing. After you’ve made your tomato-based sauce in your biggest pot (I use my biggest, orangest Le Creuset) you add the fish according to cooking times. Beware of overcrowding the pot.

 

I learned the hard way that Venus clams open almost the minute they hit the heat, unlike littlenecks, which are tough as nails and will put up an impressive resistance to opening. Think about your timing as you add each fish and learn as you go.

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Bringing the ingredients together.
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Bringing it to the table. Bouillabaisse topped with croutons and rouille.

I ate the whole thing.

 

For more Cape Cod stories check out Moon Tide!

 

Photography by Rikke Dakin Photography.

 

 

 

Writing From a Sense of Place

It is a fluid place for shifting between realms, where poems can be written, paintings painted, and universes created.

 

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.

 

Winter storm in the Great Marsh

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. 

Between land and sea

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. 

Double sun over the Great Marsh

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.

Dutch light in the Netherlands