I’ve never taken many summer vacations because there was always an Olympics or a World Cup that seemed more compelling. However, after choosing the buyout last December, I decided it was time to learn to relax.
Part of our family rented a complex in the woods on Cape Cod for last week.
Then I started getting ominous news about wild life on the Cape.
In June a black bear was spotted roaming the narrow spit of land where nobody had ever seen a black bear before.
When they knocked him out, they decided he had been able to swim over from the mainland, possibly in search of a mate. The authorities deported him to the woods in central Massachusetts, but my theory was if one lovelorn bear could make it across, there must be others.
The next frightening sign was a poster in the library saying an expert would be giving a talk about the expanding coyote population of Cape Cod. Who knew? A real-estate agent said a coyote and pups had been sighted in the woods outside a house he was showing. One of the hobbies of Cape Cod appears to be makng videos of foxes, frolicking. .
What was next? I found an item on line saying Cape Cod residents are being warned about ticks and Lyme Disease. So much for the woods. We would head for the beach.
Then I heard that sea lions off the New England coast have been showing signs of influenza not unlike the bird flu that has begun impacting humans in the last generation.
On that charming note, we arrived on Cape Cod. The first news to greet us was that a man had been bitten on both legs in the ocean right off Truro and a great white shark had apparently been sighted. The man was treated and eventually released, and swimmers were reassuring themselves that sharks do not single out humans but more likely are attracted by the numerous sea lions in the area.
I was starting to get flashbacks of Australia in 2000 during the Olympics, when visitors were warned of killer sharks and killer flora and killer fauna, including poisonous puffballs in the earth that could kill you if you happened to scuff one with your foot. Could the Cape be as lethal as Australia?
The first day of vacation, we decided to swim on the bay side. We decamped at a lovely beach with warm and gentle salt water and I inflated the kayak and my grown son and I paddled out a few hundred yards.
Then I noticed a head bobbing 50 feet away.
The head disappeared.
“I could have sworn I saw something in the water,” I said.
The head popped up again.
“It’s a sea lion,” my son said. “Look at the whiskers.”
We weren’t so much worried about the bird flu the sea lion might be carrying as the hypothetical white shark that might be looking for sea lions.
We started rowing fast until the water was only a few feet deep. Children and adults took turns in the kayak and nothing bad happened.
In fact, we had a lovely six days on Cape Cod, escaping with no damage from nature.
The only injury I sustained was self-inflicted. Early one morning, while waiting for a family Wiffle ball game, two grand-daughters charmingly tutored me on how to run. I forgot I had not yet performed my daily old-guy stretching. As I ran to catch up with them, I felt a quad muscle wrench loose. I came home from vacation using copious amounts of Advil and ice. I cannot blame the wilderness for my pain -- but I do have a new and fearful vision of summer vacations.
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Oops, this just in. Not to sound like Woody Allen, cowering in the presence of lobsters in Annie Hall, but Grandchild 2/5 reported seeing jellyfish ("that looked like prunes") in the bay, and Grandchild 3/5 reported a snapping turtle in a bucolic pond that we fell in love with. None of it was as fearsome as the traffic on and off Cape Cod. GV
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)