Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day Eleven: Jack ashore

After my morning coffee in my tranquil slip in Sesuit Harbor, I was able to raise Ishmael on my increasingly squirrelly cell phone. We arranged for him to come from Wellfleet and pick me up.

I was a wee bit worried about this. I know Ishmael from a rather egalitarian setting in New York, and I didn't know what his place in Wellfleet would be like, or how he would feel about putting my smelly greasy gas tanks in his trunk to go fill them up. Will it be a gleaming Lexus, I wondered?

He turned up in an ancient rattletrap van full of unidentifiable junk even greasier than my gas tanks, with holes in the floor and doors held on with string -- well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. But let's just say my fears regarding the immaculate Lexus were laid to rest.

I had never before set foot on Cape Cod, and I took in the landscape with great interest as we drove back to Wellfleet from Sesuit -- a longer drive than I had expected. I had my nose out the window like some goofy Irish setter, sniffing the air and eyeing the older buildings for subtle differences from the New England vernacular architecture I'm used to.

The landscape is not unlike what the north shore of Long Island must have been before it got so crapped-up, but it's just that little bit farther north, so the trees are slightly gnarlier and the air slightly brisker and there's more of a piney-woods scent in it.

Ishmael's place is the canonical beach house, though it's not actually on the beach. It even has that wonderful thing, an outdoor shower.

Ishmael had some work to do closing up the house, so I tried to lend a hand. I even spent an amazingly sweaty hour or so digging potatoes and onions out of the garden, which reminded me what backbreaking work agriculture is and has always been. Once the potatoes were dug I was very glad to have the outdoor shower.

We ate raw clams freshly-dug somewhere nearby.

Now being an old Southern boy, and only an adopted denizen of the Northeast, I am usually a bit squeamish about uncooked molluscs. But these were utterly delicious, and after bravely slugging down my first one, just to be polite, I had another and another and another... I probably put on more hot sauce than a Real Man would have done, but still: now I know what the fuss is about.

Slept that night at Ishmael's place, first night I've spent ashore since I set off.

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