Just past midsummer — July 20 — living for however long in a peninsula (Florida) of most intense summers, I find myself dreaming of that place where summer is just among the long multi-tonal movements in the six-movement symphony (each state being a movement) that is New England. And I’m thinking of Cape Cod, a storied sand bar in that symphony of places and seasons. We always read more into places than is really there — at least the places we have tried to like or even loved once. Florida is in that category. So is the Cape.
Now, understand that I walked today amid the subtropical beauty of a Pinellas County, Florida public park. They have many beautiful parks here and much savage raw beauty. It was very hot, but there was a breeze and I looked over a lake at a line of slash pine and there were pine and palm all around me and live oak and Spanish moss and tropical and domestic and some migratory birds calling and singing and shade and moving shadows of mountains of clouds so typical of summers here. Beautiful! I should feel at home — if I were a tropical bird. (Well, that’s a little churlish of me. And ungrateful.)
The landscape, of course, is flat — it is flat on the Cape, too. It is often flat where there is only sand and scrub pine. And it was about 92; has been 92 most days and will be close to 92 until October. One lives in air conditioning down here.
But then, I’m hearing it’s very hot up north — as hot as 98 — so when summer simmers up in extreme ways up there, down here where summer is always consistently a matter of clean 90 plus temperatures, it get’s even hotter.
But — I’m thinking of the Cape Cod of sand dunes, and cedar shingle cottages and lobster pots we hope to find when we go there, crossing over those bridges and trying not to think of cluttered, ordinary, traffic-ridden Hyannis, for instance– off we go over the steel at Bourne and Sagamore, and rumbling over the mental bridges that take us into memories. Like all places that we see on postcards, there is always the modern reality — that roadside, utility wired, squalid reality, social and topographical. As a reporter, I’ve covered murders and other terrible crimes on Cape Cod — and here in Florida.
What am I trying to say? I need to get that book called Going Home in a Homeless World.
I guess I’m just thinking many thoughts of home while I’m without a home now — and no, that I don’t have a home, really– home being ultimately more than the state, for better or rose, where I was born — and being, in many ways a state of mind. And I’m feeling lost, meaning away from anything that feels like home — struggling with a swarm of personal regrets and frustrations of the kind for which nostalgia is a temporary antidote. Temporary. But the search for peace, that painful, hopefully gainful search, must begin and may never end. We move through life like turtles, burdened. Hopeful.
I will go feed turtles now in a pond that swarms with turtles about a half mile away. A pond that is “home” to turtles. And in the old-man face of the youngest turtle looking for a pellet of food — a small turtle on whom that shell sometimes seems like a freakish misfortune and burden to be carried for life and from which the creature within might long to be freed if they only knew it — I will try to forget this unhappy moment, this angry moment that I, frankly, am having trouble truly articulating. I’ll go see the turtles…. I’ll feed them.