Monday, March 5, 2012

Cape of Good Friendship

Lasting friendships are forged. Similar to the age-old argument of human personality development and child rearing, is it mostly nature or mostly nurture that does the forging of friendships? I’m not certain, but in my life, it’s been a dose of environment and place that are tied to some very dear friendships.

For me, Cape Cod has long been associated with friendships in one form or another. Attending high school in the Boston area, our gang of friends would trek to The Cape often in the summers, to the many public beaches of course, or a few times scuba diving from a friend’s boat. One of my wife’s best friend’s family had a house that overlooked Buzzards Bay and during our dating years we’d travel there often. Then my wife and I honeymooned on the Outer Cape, and while we had dated for a number of years before getting married, our honeymoon was the start of decades of sharing love and the bonds of a lifetime friendship.

One of my favorite uncles retired to The Cape and I think of him as more of a friend, than relative.  My mother was the oldest in her family, I’m her oldest child, and Ernie was her youngest brother.  So Ernie is only about 8 years my senior.  Growing up and visiting my grandparents in summer at their small poultry farm, Ernie was still at home many of those years, in high school and then in the Air Force on the Cape’s Otis Air Force Base. He was an outdoors kind of guy and would take me swimming, show me how to shoot and take care of BB guns and small caliber rifles, and hand me down Army surplus camping gear from his days as a Boy Scout. We still enjoy visiting Ernie and his wife when we can and keep in touch via e-mail.

After we were married a number of years and before we started our own family, my wife and I returned to the cluster of rustic cottages where we had honeymooned, this time accompanied by a recently-married couple that we had become friends with, and still are to this day. We enjoyed time at the beach, bike riding on the Outer Cape’s back roads, and finding and picking wild bleach plums and then making jelly out of them back at our weather-beaten cottage in the dunes. Shortly after we returned to our jobs and the “real world,” we penned this memento – in our best faux Olde English – as a nod to the Mayflower Pilgrims who had briefly stopped on Cape Cod before moving on to form Plimouth Plantation. I just came across a copy of it recently while organizing old photos and other keepsakes stored in our basement.

Be it known that on a certain daye in ye midft of the dank winter, a compact was formed for a noble experiment. Thus, it came to pass that on ye fifth of September in the year of our Lord nineteen and eighty one, two small steele vessels doth set courfe for ye Cape of Codde laden full with provisions, including stores of foode, blankets, canning jars and iron bycicles. They landed in the mide afternoon on the shores of Whalefleet and made for their staye.  Thar did they reste and relax and partake of ye great beache and mighty sun, with time made to gather ye ancient beache plum, choke cherrie and flipper.  Afront a roasting fire did they down chowder and half cups of coffe beverage.  Amid the surfe sounds, scrabble was played, dreams were dreamt and the Spirit shared.  And the weeke did passe and too quickly it be gone. The experiment deemed a success; they parted each separate and did so as closour friends then whence they had begunne.

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