In the early 1850s, Henry David Thoreau embarked on a journey of observation + discovery along the outer rim of Cape Cod. As a writer and naturalist, he recorded in detail the indigenous plants, animals, topography, weather, people, and human characters of the Cape, where he finds another world of chaos and beauty right in his own backyard.
Fast forward to today, as a native New Englander & modern-day environmentalist, I retraced Thoreau’s 30 mile hike from Nausett Beach to Race Point, while comparing his mindful perspective of the Cape with my own. In many ways this narrow spit of sand jutting out into the Atlantic is very much the same as it was during Thoreau’s time. It’s a hard-working community united by their love for the sea and their resiliency + adaptability to a constantly shifting environment.
Death and life duke it out for the best hand
the kiss - or clash - of two elements at war
or in lust
with each other
Of sea and sun and mung and coyote track,
warm breath of a grey seal in the mist
Like two halves of a shell pried open,
The New Englander,
moth to a flame.
Rhythmic cadence of the sea-washed breakers my only companion
save a pair of plovers
to the clumsy hiker before them
prevailing wind upon my back
tide comes. tide goes
Mist-veiled mirage of the Great Unknown.
“A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”
- Henry David Thoreau