Short Sands Sunrise

Fourteen years ago today, I watched the sunrise in York Beach, Maine.

My parents had flown out from Iowa and we had driven up from Boston for a few days to celebrate the 4th of July.

It was my mother’s idea to awaken so painfully early to witness a sunrise. The previous morning was our first attempt, where we ended up at the Long Sands Beach. Unfortunately, we faced the wrong direction.

Thus, the next day, with great strain (I’m not much of a “morning person”), we tried it again, this time at the Short Sands Beach near the center of town. Bingo.

If you ever have the chance and gumption to watch a sunrise, I recommend it. I haven’t seen such brilliant hues in the sky before or since.

I’ll attempt another sunrise someday, when I’m in the right place and frame of mind. For now, I’ll always remember and treasure this one.

P-Town Scenes

Normally, I’d be in Provincetown this weekend for their annual film festival; I’ve missed it only twice in the last fifteen years. I’ve gone to P-Town in Winter, Autumn and Spring, but Father’s Day weekend (falling near the Summer Solstice) always means PIFF.

As with my New York essay, I thought in these crazy times it’d be therapeutic to look back at some P-Town pix I’ve taken over the years. Above is a 2010 view of the town (the tall building is the Library) and MacMillan Pier from the ferry dock. Traveling there by sea from Boston is highly preferable to doing so by land (and shorter!)

From the same year: a banner for the 12th PIFF (with the Library in the background.)

The heart of Commercial Street, P-Town’s main thoroughfare. Lined with restaurants, gift shops, bars and other tourist attractions, you can drive (one-way) along it, but IMO it would be so much better if you couldn’t.

Town Hall, 2018. At the 20th PIFF, nature provided a serendipitous backdrop for the unveiling of an AIDS memorial.

Town Hall at New Year’s Eve, 2016. P-Town does not entirely shut down for the off-season.

A restored Library, sometime after 2010. I used to joke that the restoration dragged on forever, but I now admit it was worth the wait.

Arch Street, one of dozens of narrow, mostly residential roads that link Commercial Street to its adjacent neighbor, Bradford Street/Route 6A.

P-Town has its share of colorful signage, first and foremost being the vintage red neon of The Lobster Pot.

With signage less flashy but still distinct, Utilities is a kitchen/bathroom store where one can find everything from a teakettle to a shot glass. With its densely but neatly packed shelves and show tunes playing overhead, it’s the type of local gem you wish would stay open forever.

Of course, not everything in P-Town endures. This long-standing, curiously-named restaurant bit the dust sometime in the last decade, although the space lives on as Liz’s Cafe/Anybody’s Bar.

Other businesses pop up for a few summers before quietly disappearing, like Blue Light, which later became Blondie’s Burgers; it has now housed The Canteen for over five years.

Over on the West End: who doesn’t appreciate signage so straight to the point?

Back near the center of town: this whimsical warning also lets people know they’re just around the corner from Napi’s Restaurant, a year-round P-Town institution.

One of Napi’s restrooms; the other one is marked “Or.”

Some signage is fleeting, as seen days after a certain, infamous tweet in June 2017.

The town part of P-Town provides only half of its allure. Located on the tip of Cape Cod, water surrounds it on three of four sides. Above, a beach right in town (if not an ideal one for swimming.)

Another beach a little further along the coast: have you ever seen such a schizoid sky?

If you walk far West enough, this is what you’ll find: Bradford Street’s end, with the dunes, Herring Cove and the Atlantic Ocean just beyond.

Coastal land far more suitable for beaching and swimming.

North of town, the Province Lands contain miles of biking trails running around the dunes.

Wood End Lighthouse, often the first sight of P-Town from an incoming ferry.

We return to MacMillan Pier at what is undoubtedly the “golden hour” for photography.

MacMillan Pier is lined with these cute little shacks. Founded centuries ago as a fishing village by Portuguese immigrants, you can spot their flag proudly flown all over town.

That tall, narrow building is the Pilgrim Monument, the most iconic feature of the town’s skyline.

The Provincetown Causeway in the West End, October 2012. Until we meet again, P-Town…

Unique New York

I’ve been to New York City at least a dozen times in the past two decades. Since another visit right now is out of the question, here are a few favorite pics from those trips. Above is a view of West 23rd Street taken from the High Line in 2013.

Given how massive (and ubiquitous) NYC is, I’m eschewing landmarks for selected obscurities teeming within this metropolis. This tunnel, one of many in Central Park, may be my most recognizable image from here on out.

Manhattan architecture is a caustic mixture of old and new (and Duane Reade stores.)

A typical block in the East Fifties that could be just about anywhere in Manhattan.

This block’s much more distinct: MacDougal Alley in Greenwich Village, not too far from Washington Square Park.

Even less fancy corners, such as Avenue A and East Third Street in the East Village are marked with such oddities as this zigzag-bricked building.

Despite all-encompassing gentrification, remnants of old New York hang on, like this ancient supermarket on the Upper West Side…

…or this established-in-1950-and-miraculously-still-looks-it steak joint on the Upper East Side.

Took this in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2006. The business has since closed but the sign remains, sort of.

21st Century signage in NYC doesn’t have to be dull or uniform, as seen at the Soho outpost of this five-store chain.

However, clever can only take you so far: my gut reaction at first seeing this in 2015 was, “OH NO THEY DIDN’T.”

This cleverness I can appreciate, given my folks were Des Moines-ers for twenty years.

This sign is still my favorite ever spotted in NYC: April 2006, on Broadway in Soho.

Over to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, six months later. There’s something funny about a “Teabag Variety Hour” that I’m guessing the proprietors of this establishment never intended.

Over to the Bowery and Spanjer Signs on Chrystie Street (enhanced by some whimsical graffiti) in February 2012.

In terms of attitude, this pic from the West Village circa 2007 might be the New York-iest of them all.

Well, this jalopy found a parking spot; god knows how long it’s been left there.

My last couple of trips to NYC have included dinner at Lilli and Loo, a cozy, bi-level pan-Asian restaurant in Lenox Hill.

Around the corner from Lilli and Loo, May 2014. I just love the exaggerated, lackadaisical posture of the guy in the middle: Candid New York, if you will.

In my opinion, one of the city’s most beguiling oddities, spotted at the John Derian Dry Goods store on East Second Street in 2017. Half Carol Channing, half Buster Brown?

Thankful I thought to take a pic of Gonzalez Y Gonzalez restaurant and its gaudy, giant sombrero back in 2009 because this location is long since gone (though relocated sans hat on the exterior.)

El Quijote, a venerable Spanish restaurant next to the Chelsea Hotel, is also now gone (and sadly has not relocated.) Took this pic of one of their typically ancient menus on my last visit there in 2015.

I was last in New York about three years ago for the funeral of my closest friend who lived there. After the service, my husband and I took a restorative walk around Stuyvesant Square Park where I spotted this tableau: like a mighty stone fortress emerging from the flora, providing hope that through all the inevitable changes in a city like New York, some things remain and appear indestructible.

I leave you this pic from Greenpoint, October 2006: Endless Brooklyn. I hope someday to return to this maddening, magnificent metropolis.

The Park

I live a ten-minute walk from an enormous park; it’s in Boston, but up against the city’s Western border. From here on out, I’ll refer to it simply as The Park.

I frequented The Park with my husband and our dog for years before I lived so close to it. To be honest, its proximity was one of the most compelling reasons to buy our current home about four years ago.

Since the COVID-19 quarantine began, as with many green spaces for most people, The Park’s one of the few places I’ve been able to leave home for, apart from the local supermarket and various restaurants offering takeout. I’ll walk over there about once, maybe twice a week depending on the weather.

Apparently, The Park was once a landfill, filled up and transformed into its current state about two decades or so ago. It’s laid out with paths in three concentric circles, each one significantly more elevated than the last.

As a result, the walking paths contain many curves.

With each walk I’ve taken this early Spring, the grass has turned a little greener…

…and trees have begun to blossom more fully.

The Park isn’t empty as these pictures make it seem; after all, as previously noted, it’s one of the few places people can go. Still, it’s not unusual to see such spaces as this vast soccer/rugby field nearly uninhabited.

For me, walking is a lifeline. Before, I spent at least an hour a day on my feet, to and from the Commuter Rail station, using my lunch break at work to walk through the leafy streets of Brookline, making the rounds through the Back Bay to kill time before catching a train home.

I have a treadmill in my basement that I use more frequently now, but it’s not the same as being out in the open air, taking in my surroundings as I move forward.

As the weather gets warmer, I hope to visit The Park more frequently.

I anticipate all the pastels of Spring gradually becoming greener until Summer returns and it’s difficult to remember a time when it was too chilly to go outside at all.

Presently, everything’s in limbo; I wonder, among many other things, when I’ll be able to rent a canoe to paddle along the Charles River (seen in the background above) again.

For now, the kiddie playground at The Park remains empty, closed off as the Prudential Center and the John Hancock Tower loom way off in the distance.

I’ll always love The Park, but I long to return to all the other places I love as well.

Afternoon at Iguana Island

Five days into our Turks and Caicos trip, we signed up for an afternoon snorkeling excursion, part of which included an hour-long stop at Little Water Cay…

…also informally known as Iguana Island, for reasons that will soon be apparent.

A couple of bright orange-beaked birds near the shore.

Little Water Cay is long and narrow; squint and you might see the opposite shore.

Not every track came from a human.

Here come the iguanas!

They allow you to get pretty close, though I wouldn’t be in a hurry to stick out my hand.

The opposite shore, I think–we were easily turned around at one point.

Color like this is what I come to the Caribbean for.

Make that late afternoon at Iguana Island.

It wasn’t long before we had to head back to Grace Bay.

On the way, we docked near here and were invited to ride a water slide from the boat’s very top on down into the ocean.

Sunset approaching.

Grace Bay beckons.

We fondly look back at the setting sun after departing the boat. A half-day of sea, snorkeling, conch salad and plenty of rum punch comes to a close.

Return to Grace Bay

 

We returned to Grace Bay on the isle of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos on a Sunday afternoon in late January; our last visit was four years before.

Since Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017, we expected extensive changes, but Provo was mostly as we remembered it.

It’s hard to imagine Grace Bay as anything other than bright, blue and sunny.

It’s so satisfying to see flowers like these in January when you live in New England.

Also, the green lushness further away from the coast.

I like walking along the beach, but prefer to spend most of my vacation time lounging by the pool.

Bonaventure Crescent near sunset.

An unexpected bit of Minnesota (or perhaps, Upper Michigan) in the Caribbean.

Downtown Grace Bay on a Wednesday evening.

More palms, but with a twist (literally!)

Mango Reef, possibly our favorite restaurant on the island. We noticed it looked different than it did in 2015 before finding out it had actually moved locations! We thought the ride there was a tad longer than previous…

A most dramatic palm tree…

…spotted at the Infiniti Bar at Grace Bay Club, with nice views of the beach after dark.

Thursday sunset after an off-island excursion – stay tuned for more on that.