Cape Cod Photo Journal – Eastham, Orleans and Chatham

[photos by Sarah; text by Thoreau out of “Cape Cod”]

“Far below us was the beach, from half a dozen to a dozen rods in width, with a long line of breakers rushing to the strand.  The sea was exceedingly dark and stormy, the sky completely, the clouds still dropping rain, and the wind seemed to blow not so much as the exciting cause, as from sympathy with the already agitated ocean.  The waves broke on the bars at some distance from the shore, and curving green or yellow as if over so many unseen dams, ten or twelve feet high, like a thousand waterfalls, rolled in foam to the sand.  There was nothing but that savage ocean between us and Europe!”

rock harbor“All the morning  we had heard the sea roar on the eastern shore, which was several miles distant…It was a very inspiring sound to walk by, filling the whole air, that of the sea dashing against the land, heard several miles inland.  Instead of having a dog to growl before your door, to have an Atlantic Ocean to growl for a whole Cape!”

“Instead of fences, the earth was sometimes thrown up into a slight ridge.  My companion compared it to the rolling prairies of Illinois.  In the storm of wind and rain which raged when we traversed it, it no doubt appeared more desolate than it really is.”

 

seaweed and shell

“We walked with our umbrellas behind us, since it blowed hard as well as rained, with driving mists, as the day before, and the wind helped us over the sand at a rapid rate.  Everything indicated that we had reached a strange shore.”

“Yet we concluded that they had chosen wisely to come here, where other music than that of the surf must be rare.  Thus the great civilizer sends out its emissaries, sooner or later, to every sandy cape and light-house in the New World which the census-taker visits, and summons the savage there to surrender.”

boats in cove“Quit, now, full of heart and comfort,
These rude shores, they are of the earth;
Where the rosy clouds are parting,
There the blessed isles loom forth.”

“We were so often disappointed in the size of such things as came ashore, the ridiculous bits of wood or weed, with which the ocean labored, that we began to doubt whether the Atlantic itself would bear a still closer inspection, and would not turn out to be but a small pond, if it should come ashore to us.”

“Every landscape which is dreary enough has a certain beauty to my eyes, and in this instance its permanent qualities were enhanced by the weather.  Everything told of the sea, even when we did not see its waste or hear its roar.  For birds there were gulls, and for carts in the fields, boats turned bottom upward against the houses, and sometimes the rib of a whale was woven into the fence by the road-side.”

“I was glad to have got out of the towns, where I am wont to feel unspeakably mean and disgraced,–to have left behind me for a season the bar-rooms of Massachusetts, where the full-grown are not weaned from savage and filthy habits,–still sucking a cigar.  My spirits rose in proportion to the outward dreariness.  The towns need to be ventilated.”

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