CHATHAM – The thick fog at dawn made for a mysterious start to the year 2023 on Lighthouse Beach.
I arrived just before sunrise and headed down towards the water, or at least towards where I expected the Atlantic Ocean to be. It was sort of unclear in the thick fog of morning in Chatham.
As I got near the water and at least some of it was visible, I looked left and saw one person standing by the water. I headed right, towards the Chatham Beach Shack.
I had been there a few times before but never on a foggy New Year’s morning. It seemed, somehow, just the right way to start a much needed new year.
The fog of Cape Cod is always amazing but there was something special about the circumstances and place of this particular foggy morning.
New Year’s morning at the Chatham Beach Shack. I had it all to myself. I admired the sign that has long been there that says, “Go Away!” The person who put that up is one of my artistic heroes. It is so perfect.
And so I took a breath and, looked up at the American and Ukranian flags flying over the beach shack.
The shack belongs to no one and yet it belongs to anyone who happens to be there at the time. I breathed it in. I was about to go on my way when I saw a man walk by with his dog. I wanted to say, “Happy New Year.” But since he was out walking the beach on this morning, I figured he certainly knew it was a happy new year, or at least a happy new day.
After he went on his way, I hiked back towards the parking lot above Lighthouse Beach. Just as I got back to main stretch of Lighthouse Beach and I was nearing steps to the parking lot, I saw a person walking onto the beach.
He greeted me and asked me how was the beach. My first conversation of 2023 was with a young man, smiling ear to ear while looking out at the foggy Atlantic. He said he had just arrived on Cape Cod after driving from his parents home in Brooklyn. He must have driven half the night.
He lives in Texas, and was visiting his parents in Brooklyn for the holidays and decided he needed to see New England, he said. Wearing a Captain’s hat that one would buy at a tourist shop, he looked out at the foggy water in the sightly chilly ocean air and spoke the eternal poetry of restless youth.
Why was he on Cape Cod?, I asked.
He just needed to go, he said. To drive. he said. He needed to see what he had not seen, and he had seen plenty of the United States, he said, naming off places with glee. “I’m here because I want to see the world,” he said. “I’ve never been here before.”
He said he may only spend a few hours on the Cape. I told him he was in the right spot on an east facing beach, and recommended he follow the track of the National Seashore to Provincetown and check out beaches along the way.
And so it went with my new friend, or as the song goes, my old acquaintance. He shall not be forgotten. I hope he finds all the places on Earth he needs to see.
I continue to be thrilled and surprised by what Cape Cod offers for my own view. The fog eventually lifted. The day turned sunny with blue skies after all. And so a new year began.
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