Cape Cod

Cape Cod

Photos: Ceara McAuliffe
Words: Liam McAuliffe

Cape Cod has been a sacred place to generations of families. The word sacred comes from the latin sacredos, to set apart. It was originally a spatial concept, the area around a temple. But it has come to be understood as periods of time, places, and states of being revered for the special ways they are separate from routine, habit, normal life.

The Cape’s most obvious separation is spatial – it’s a 60 mile-long whisp of sand dunes, scrub pine, and marshland jutting into the Atlantic, severed from the bulk of America by a canal. But more dramatically it’s separated from early autumns, long New England winters, and fitful springs by brief, glorious summers. In New England summer is celebrated like an extended holiday, and Cape Cod is one of its holiest pilgrimage sites.

On Cape Cod, summer is a verb. In a single day you can plunge into the bracing Atlantic, jump off docks into warm, briny salt rivers, rinse in sweet water ponds, play barefoot badminton in brittle grass fields, harvest oysters and gorge on lobsters, clams, and cod fresh off the boat. With the night winding down we keep an eye out for shooting stars and sip sweating tumblers of vodka with just a splash of cranberry juice and a twist of lime – the famous Cape Codder.

But to summer on the Cape is not only to play and indulge. It’s to make yourself available to a meditative kind of sensuality that occurs, for instance, when a humid sunset breeze, the truffly stink of marsh at low tide, or a neon sky reflected in crystal water lapping at white sand sinks you into a kind of trance. You’re separated completely from everything that is not of that moment, those sensations, and it's bliss.