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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Experience · #2061380
Barb's third fourth on the Cape
Barbara E. Taylor
Another Fourth of July 2010

We closed earlier than usual tonight. The July 4th crowd in Provincetown can get a bit rowdy after the fireworks and the town bottles up the rowdiness near the beach and on Commercial Street. More than one business shuts the doors and gets out of Dodge before the fireworks go off over the harbor. That’s what I did, closed the doors at eight-thirty.

Deciding against the fireworks, more because of the nightmare getting out of the parking lot than any judgment of the fireworks quality, I trudged up the hill towards the high school and the Pilgrim Monument to collect my car and head home. On the way someone shot off some fireworks behind me, back down the hill. I turned and looked for a moment and decided I was letting convenience get in the way of experiencing the moment.

I didn’t want the heat or the crowd so I drove to land’s end – that marshy area where land almost gives way to water at the very tip of Cape Cod. I say almost because there is one more bit of dunes and grass called Long Point with a lovely lighthouse at the end of it, separated from the rest of Provincetown by a breakwater across the marsh and the small channel. This is the end of the spiral, the almost closed hand that encircles and protects the town and forms the beautiful natural harbor that is sufficient in size to hold the Atlantic Fleet of Teddy Roosevelt’s time.

Not alone in my choice of viewing area, I circled the area once, drove back a bit, parked on the berm and walked a short distance along the road beside the marsh to reach the area of the breakwater. There is a traffic circle at this spot where the Pilgrims first anchored in the New World. Here I was on our national birthday, the date that marks the nation’s beginning, or more correctly the declaration of the beginning, the intent, the mission – here I was, standing literally at the place where the Pilgrims landed and where they wrote the Mayflower Compact; the very model for our Constitution and rooted in English Common Law.

The fireworks were going off at the center of the crescent that is Provincetown and the view was very nice. I watched for about fifteen minutes, enjoying the relative peace and space in which to enjoy them and then turned to walk back along the marsh to drive on home.

It was then, because I was walking in that place at that moment that I saw what was there for me. Looking away from town across the marsh to the open water of Cape Cod Bay I saw a demonstration so ordinary and yet so special it took me a moment to comprehend. I hurried to my car and drove quickly to Herring Cove Beach, the beach that faces Cape Cod Bay and the mainland.

There on the horizon laid out for me like candles on a cake were the fireworks celebrations of all the cities and towns and villages from north of Plymouth to the Cape Cod Canal to the Cape towns and all the way up to Provincetown. The tiny but perfect starbursts and shooting shells were going off like red, green, white and blue fireflies on every bit of horizon there was.

Some displays were extravagant with multiple shells and lots of color. Many were tiny with a shell going up at a slower rate and one at a time. No doubt some boats also were shooting off charges but it was clear that I was looking at dozens and dozens of local celebrations attended by hundreds but swelling in total to tens of thousands of Americans enjoying our national birthday. I sat and watched for a long time until the sparkling flares began to go dark one by one and the sea and the sky reclaimed the horizon for the night. I was left with the lighthouse beams from Race Point and Wood End and the glow of a campfire up the beach.

It was a Glorious Fourth.

July 4, 2010

# B.E.T.
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