“…America America God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea…”
— Katharine Lee Bates
What a strange and uncertain time this has been for all of us. One minute we are living normal daily lives, and the next minute we find out there is a pandemic. We all are under quarantine and must stay home. With the virus came change. The world was becoming unrecognizable. A change in our way of life and a change in our plans.
In late March, I sat in quarantine with my family in Connecticut. We understood the restrictions and that we would not be getting to the Cape until it was deemed safe to do so. We usually would have been heading up to the Cape at this time to open up the Summer House after a long winter. We always stayed bundled up in our coats as we entered the Summer House. It was always cold and dank with the same familiar musty smell that would permeate throughout from everything being closed tightly to protect it from winter gales and storms. We would then open all the doors and windows wide, allowing the fresh salty air to blow through the house replacing the musty smell with the clean fresh salty air.
We knew when we closed up last fall that we would have to replace all the original wood gutters and the fascia underneath that was badly weathered and rotting and that new gutters would be going up. The work would be done as scheduled without us being there. I was assured by the time we returned all would be completed and perfect. One day in early April while on my computer the most beautiful drone video made by Brian Switzer appeared titled “Summer.” My eyes filled with tears seeing our happy vibrant town on a beautiful summer day. It was a love letter to the place we all longed for and loved.
I was sure the daffodils in the garden were in full bloom, and the ducks would be swimming in Fresh River as it gently flowed from the sound. The grass would be beginning to show its beautiful green hue that comes with springtime. We missed Easter, having the whole family together, along with our annual walk to Spohr Gardens.
As it got warmer in late March I knew the ospreys would be returning to their nests. Much like us summer people, they find their way back home to their same nests year after year. No quarantine to stop them. It is always with such excitement when we see them first arrive, busy rebuilding their “messy” nests.
Finally in early June we were able to return. The weathered gray shingle house was waiting for us. The new trim and gutters were up. The grass was a beautiful rich green. The daffodils had bloomed, and their flowers were gone. However, the roses and the hydrangea were all budding and getting ready to bloom. The ducks were swimming in the river, and, to our delight, new little ducklings were swimming in a line behind their mom. There were seven of them. And right at the end of our driveway was the big messy nest that sits at the end of the driveway. We feel they are our special neighbors. Our osprey friends had returned right on schedule.
We made our maiden drive along Surf Drive on the way to Nobska. As we were driving, I stopped the car and pulled over. I noticed a gentleman with a fantastic camera setup photographing an osprey nest. He said, “Look, they have the babies in there. I think there are at least three.” You could see the little heads with their mouths open squawking. Out of the nest the father flew majestically over the sound, diving into the water, catching a fish and immediately flying back to the nest with the dangling fish ready to feed the babies. It was incredible to watch. I asked how often he photographs the osprey. He said that, although his in-laws live in the Heights, he frequently drives down from Boston very early in the morning when he can to photograph these amazing birds that have fascinated him for years.
As the weeks pass and we all adjust to different norms, life goes on. The summer sun warms the beach; the waves break peacefully along the shore. We will miss the town parade and the extraordinary Falmouth fireworks display. This tradition is the highlight of the summer, something we all look forward to year after year. A special gathering for family and friends to be together and salute Old Glory. Yes, it will be different this year, but what will always remain constant is knowing we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Happy Birthday, America. We will all be just fine.
Ms. August is a lifelong summer resident of Falmouth, as were her parents and grandparents before her. Her production company is Summer Girl Media. Her Facebook page is “Tales of a Summer House.”