, Gloucester, MA

October 5, 2013

Letter: Appreciating life here on Cape Ann

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

This last string of days — has it been 7? 10? 15? — from late September at least through today, have been truly extraordinary for me with regard to peacefulness and beauty, and a sense of the preciousness of this season.

I hope each of you has been able to be “out in them” in some way that is special for you, too, even for an hour or so at the beginning of the day or end, while there is still daylight after work.

I sailed in the early morning from Rockport Harbor over to Conomo Point with my brother-in-law. The entire way — after Halibut Point, and the back shore, especially through Lanesville, Plum Cove and Bay View — brought the richest of early autumn greens, golden greens, a few brilliant colors, and the shore seemed so peaceful from the water.

The land and water shimmered, and I wondered what it was like 150 to 200 years ago, and wished I could have sailed past them then. As the day passed, the colors deepened, became more intense, especially over the water, and I realized once more how fine Fitz Henry Lane’s rendering of those late afternoon days were, especially late in his life and in this season, even during the terrible juxtaposition of the Civil War.

While I am primarily speaking about just “being” on this unique and wonderful island during the last week or 10 days, I also have been delighted by the events that I feel so fortunate to have taken part in that are so unique to this place.

Earlier in the summer, the American Legion Band concerts on Sunday nights at Back Beach in Rockport, some folks just sitting in the cars and tooting their horns in appreciation of the Sousa marches or Gershwin show tunes; the Cape Ann Farmers’ Market over in Stage Fort Park on Thursday afternoons; the magnificent Schooner races that first Sunday of September. And still sailing my small boat out on the increasingly empty autumn ocean.

Finally this last weekend of September, the Lanesville scene on Saturday afternoon was for me, the best of small town America: really fine music, bluegrass, rock, folk renditions and some good local jazz groups; delicious grilled chicken, cold beer, hot sun, kids and dogs, including mine, everywhere, just loving the day.

People were open and friendly, and I felt so welcomed. That evening, my wife and I went to the new Manchester Essex High School to hear the terrific Cape Ann Symphony under Yoichi Udagawa in its 62nd season, perform Dvorak’s cello concerto with Owen Young and Berloiz’s Symphonie Fantastique. What a program and how well performed! And then on Sunday night, the Manhattan Short Film Festival at Shalin Liu, showcasing the 10 best films selected from 640 entries from around the world — all of this with a 10-to-20-minute drive of my home.

So my message to any of you who might read this is merely to say “thank you” and express my gratitude to the people who live here and for this magical place called Cape Ann, and that being here in this precious and fleeting season is the best.

The fine man, teacher and musician, Herb Pomeroy, once told me that “September Song” was written by the acerbic Kurt Weill of Three Penny Opera fame, and that amazed me. Those lines, — “It’s a long, long time, from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September” ring so true to me today and in this season. And as “the days dwindle down, to a precious few” I also miss Herb and Austin Connors, among so many.