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Pilgrim Monument, line drawing by Ewa Nogiec
Provincetown: Walking on the Town Beach

Diary Entry: March 27, 2001

Provincetown Heaven is a blue sky in Spring and a walk on the beach with my gray and white cat, Pearl.

It snowed heavily last night -- Winter's very last gasp. Our deck is covered in light fluffy snow -- the color that defines "white." I have to carry Pearl down the steps to the beach so she won't have to encounter that cold white stuff on her soft pink paws.

It is ebb tide -- halfway out, halfway in. The beach is pristine -- clear of all seaweed and debris. There is a bit of snow still clinging to the breakwaters -- the piles of rocks jutting into the sea covered with scalps of seaweed. Peal likes to walk along the edge of the beach houses, most of which provide her with little piers and stairs to hide behind.

I start the business of searching for shells for the candle arrangements I give to my friends. Meanwhile, Pearl's eyes dart about, tail whipping behind her, looking for the enemy -- Dog. Then she sees a gull nearby: her teeth chatter and she crouches, body tense and ready to spring -- the dream of the ultimate catch. She is a bird hunter and I am a shell hunter. I bend down to examine a half-buried snail shell. She rubs against my leg as I shake out the sand and pocket the whorled blue gray shell. I like the ones that are marred or broken by the sea, not perfect specimens, but still beautiful -- like those of us further into life.

The water shimmers like a blue silk dress glossy with diamonds. Looking up the beach again, I spot a clamshell recently dropped by the gulls; inside is pure white with a splash of the most brilliant purple, not yet bleached by the sun. (This purple bit is what the Indians used to make wampum jewelry.) I have to clean the last bits of clam flesh from the shell with a handful of wet sand. Then into my pocket. Next a bit of wood made interesting by its tumble in the sea -- transformed into driftwood.

We see only one other person with a black poodle in tow. The dog pulls towards me and doesn't see Pearl lurking behind some steps. Depending on how near the dog comes and where he registers on the aggressive/afraid meter, she is ready to run away as fast as a puma, or to hiss and pounce fiercely. The tense moment passes, and, relaxing, she rejoins me on the beach. She rolls in the sand at my feet for a brief belly rub. I squat beside her to admire her soft beautiful gray and white fur. Then she leaps up again - the picture of vigilance. The enemy could return at any moment!

Most of the houses are still boarded up, waiting for May or June and the start of the Season. But some are under construction--getting face-lifts for their owners who are probably right now sitting at some computer terminal in Boston or New York, or flying to some distant business meeting. Maybe they are thinking of Provincetown; maybe knowing they will be here soon on the beach sustains them. It did me. But now I live here and have the luxury of walking on the beach whenever I want. I particularly love the beach in Spring and Fall because I have it virtually to myself and Pearl. I breathe in the fresh, cool, slightly salty air and turn back refreshed, peaceful, and happy to be alive. Pearl trails along behind me.

A simple walk on the beach is a sublime gift.


--Christina Frisco

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