Sounds of Silence on Cape Cod
TO enjoy Cape Cod in winter, you must close your eyes and listen.
There is a symphony of cold in sound: A lone seagull dives for an errant fish offshore, a far-off splash echoing across the emptiness of gray and blue. Frozen ice and sand crackle underfoot as a golden retriever bounds along the beach. The gentle whistle of icy breath, the muffled scratch of a coat collar pulled tight around the neck.
But the real allure of a winter day at this warm-weather getaway is what you don’t see when your eyes are open. Absent are the lines of cars snaking through jammed parking lots of summer or the dance of sunburned beachgoers who slap and yell at stinging waves. The Cape in winter is like a carnival park past its prime, empty but approachable because it is so familiar.
And along the shore, there is always the promise of spring, when small waves frozen in sand will retreat with the thaw and slip back to sea, waiting to embrace the crowds when they arrive once again.That, at least, is what crossed my mind as I stood one crisp afternoon in January on Coast Guard Beach, 15 miles north of Chatham, Mass., the town situated at the Cape’s elbow. I was seeking a tonic for my post-New Year’s blues. As I wound my scarf tighter around my neck to ward off the bitter cold, I noticed a single fishing boat bobbing in the surf near shore. A rugged fisherman onboard waved in my direction, then hauled up a heavy metal cage from the water, hand over gloved fist.
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