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Surf Drive

Back when we had a house in a suburban community of Falmouth that suffocated me, my favorite thing to do was bike the Road Race route back and forth. Right out the complex, often on the sidewalk because no one used it and cars whizzed by on Akapesket. Across the big road, look both ways, and into a quieter neighborhood where fifties bungalows were slowly being converted into multi-garaged weekend houses with immaculate green lawns and the flowers of Falmouth; bright blue Hydrangeas and Black Eyed Susans. Right at the ocean, to Falmouth Heights, past the British Beer Garden and some very old cottages with mottled glass windows, then the Island Queen that goes back and forth to the Vineyard in the summer, left at that road which gets you to the other side of the harbor, past my favorite market, the Windfall, then a town green where concerts sometimes happen, the smaller ferry that goes to Edgartown, a clam shack and back in tidy cape suburbia before getting to Surf Drive, which always has a headwind and sand in the bike lane.

While Pie in the Sky in Woods Hole for a smoothie may be the final destination, it's the oyster ponds and ospreys nesting, their high pitched wails, the multiple other bird songs, and the elevated cottages along the beach that keep me going back.

Woods Hole

During COVID, Nat and I got the urge to recklessly go there one day for a change of scenery. Everything was closed so our only option was to walk along the paths abutting the oyster ponds, where various creatures popped out to occasionally interrupt our observations and musing. When we got to the beach, we took a seat to enjoy the gifts of warm winter sun, silvery flat water, the Vineyard across the way. We had food of some sort that we meted out to a flock of seagulls who seemed in equal need of entertainment and nutrition. We did our best to level the playing field, throwing crumbs to the lightweights and keeping the bullies at bay, some got names. The cottages nearby were boarded up, there were very few people around, yet somehow, it was one of those days I'll remember as close to perfect. Perhaps it was being with someone who similarly appreciated the lack of distraction, allowing us to notice small things, to be present.

Boarded up cottage from COVID era

Surf Beach. This is how COVID times felt

Near the harbor in Falmouth. Another COVID look

When I went the other day, I walked down that same inland path towards the ocean, with many welcome signs of spring; daffodils, snowdrops and scillas out, moss turning an unearthly green, the smell of decomposing leaves combined with salt and growth, birds singing at their loudest pitch. 

Moss and spray paint

One of many pretty sights on the Shining Sea Bike Path

Resting boats

Back in the present, a thought came uninvited into my head about how, 23 years ago, there I’d been, living life, loving it, and then shockingly, this person arrives who you love so much and takes over everything. Days change profoundly, as does reason for being. So much is added, depth and meaning I never knew existed. Challenges, yes, sometimes big ones, but all muted by life's daily vibrancy. The ability to purely and simply help another human, make them happy, feel better, assure them things will be alright. Shared experiences, talks, knowledge, preferences, images, memories. 

And then, it's over. And the paths you walk can lack dimension, echoing past conversations that happened, reflecting what isn’t there rather than what is. Slowly, spring and the world's vibrancy returned, and on I went with the day, pained for what would never be again, confident about what's to come.


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