Donna Laemmle – Crowe's Pasture, Dennis
"There is a conservation area in Dennis called Crowe's Pasture. Within the last decade the Town of Dennis, the Dennis Conservation Trust, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Federal Land & Conservation Fund, the MA Dept of Conservation & Recreation, and the MA Self-Help Project took this area on as a cooperative conservation project to return it to pasturelands. It is accessible by heading north on School St. off Route 6A (towards the Bay). Take the first right onto South Street and follow it all the way to the one lane dirt road (less than a mile long). It is rutted but totally passable and there are turnouts when meeting a vehicle coming in the other direction. There are two trail heads and a number of marked parking areas along the road. It runs along the marsh at Quivet Creek. It is forested, with peeks of marsh and bay, and old stone walls, and if you choose to walk the road, there are walking paths to the beach. Just beware, there are warning signs about wearing orange caps in hunting season (quail and pheasant), and plenty of poison ivy around!
There is a mini walk and nature area with benches along South Street, just before Crowe's Pasture at the stop sign on the right. The road dead-ends where you can park and there are two benches for picnics or just to look at the marsh. The path crosses the creek and takes you out to a little antique store on Route 6A—very sweet."
— Donna Laemmle is a retired teacher living in Dennis with her husband, two cats, and Lucy, the dog that accompanies her on her walks.
Suzanne McConnell – Truro
Seals on Sandbar, September 2008
"During low tide, about 300 seals have taken to lounging about on a sandbar at Head of the Meadow Beach.
They are all sizes and shades, including babies. They lie on top of one another, rear, roll, romp,
slide into the water, swim. Their seal-talk creates a communal sound like a high-pitched, eerie singing.
To see them, drive towards Provincetown on Rte 6, turn off to the right at the sign for Head of the Meadow
Beach (just past the Highland Light in Truro), and go to the parking lot farthest to the left. Then
take the lower left path through the reeds, and when you come out on the beach, continue to the far left. You will see them out on the sandbar, although from a distance they look like a low rock wall. It is a about a quarter mile walk on the beach, and well worth the effort."
Seals on a sandbar at Head of the Meadow Beach
—Suzanne McConnell lives in New York City, where she teaches creative writing at Hunter College. She spends her summers at a cottage overlooking a pond in the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet.
"When I talk about the forest on Sandy Neck, it is often received with scepticism. Most people are unaware of the forest that lies about half way along the marsh trail that runs along the bay side of the peninsula called Sandy Neck in Barnstable. I have hiked the full length of this eight-mile path a few times, especially in the fall. Every turn reveals new vistas of marsh and dune, but the highlight of this trek lies at the heart of the journey, a small secluded forest. Fall light filters through dense patches of scrub pine and cedar. There is a magical quality to the light and I feel as if I have entered my own private sanctuary."
—Mary Moquin is a painter who lives in Sandwich. www.capecodfineartist.com.
Her work can be seen at Addison Art Gallery in Orleans www.addisonart.com
Shawn Nelson — Crowes Pasture, Dennis
The artist, Wolf Kahn, said of Vermont, “It’s like living in a salad bowl in the summer.” The same might be said of Crowes Pasture except that here, here we have a rich stew. Of course it’s green this time of year along with brilliant blue skies and an intense white light. For visual flavor, add a sprinkling of asters, rose hips, golden rod, Virginia creeper, moon berries, damsel and dragon flies. Mix with sounds of the near-by sea stroking the shore, the leaves doing a wind-whipped tango, the chorale of blue jays, hawks, crows, chickadees, squirrels, and chipmunks. Remember the fragrance of the marsh, the smell of wild grapes, and that wonderful earthy fall smell. It is indeed a feast for the senses.
The tableau of trails, marshes and beach is transformed by season, weather, and tide. Waking up to a foggy morning becomes a delight, knowing that one can disappear into this mysterious preserve where trees and bushes are blended and nature is hushed. Winter, too, has its joy. Sparkling skies and dun colored grasses compliment the jagged edges of blue ice along marsh channels. Snowfall opens the possibility for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The paths of Crowe’s Pasture, overhung by oak branches and red cedar, offer both a shelter from the elements and a hidden world of its own."
—Shawn Nelson is a painter who lives in East Dennis. She exhibits her work at Gallery Twenty Pearl, Hyannis, and the Harvest Gallery, Dennis, and teaches at Cape Museum of Art in Dennis. www.shawnnelsonart.com
Karen North Wells – Wing’s Island, Brewster
Karen North Wells, "Wing's Island"
"One of my favorite trails on Cape Cod is close to home. The trail is Wing’s Island from the Natural History Museum in Brewster. After I walk from the parking lot and by the glass case showing the map of the island, I enter the woods for a short distance. I then come to a view of a glorious marsh and footbridge leading to Wing’s Island. There are many short paths off the main perimeter path leading to the bay and there are many views from all of these paths that are great subjects for painting. When I get to the bay I notice Crowe’s Pasture in Dennis, just a short wading distance at low tide from the Brewster shore. In the summer, Crowe’s Pasture is filled with people but now only the sound of the gulls keep the beaches from being isolated. I love this time of year and am grateful to be able to enjoy my beautiful surroundings on Cape Cod!"
—Karen North Wells is an artist who lives in Brewster. She is the owner of the Underground Art Gallery on Setucket Road. You can check out her blog at www.karennorthwells.blogspot.com and her website at www.karennorthwells.com
Anne Garton – Boatmeadow Beach, Eastham
Anne Garton, "Boatmeadow Beach," oil on canvas
"Lately I’ve been walking along Boatmeadow Beach in Eastham, on the bay side. To be honest, there isn’t much of a beach at Boatmeadow Beach. It’s more like a meadow for beached boats . . . overturned canoes, dinghies, kayaks, some of them unused for decades. The actual beach is about the size of a tennis court. To the north there’s the mouth of a small river that flows eastward under a bridge, eventually petering out to a trickle. Once, long ago, this river sliced Eastham away from Orleans, but now it has almost all filled in. The large marsh on the riverbank is very painterly.
There are two kinds of walks at Boatmeadow; a low-tide walk stretching for a quarter mile or so into the bay when the tides are right, and a dune walk, which is a little less direct, and which I would like to share with the CapeWomen community. It’s rare to have dunes so accessible, so low-lying and along the bay. And it’s beautiful, more beautiful each time I go there.
Here is what you do: you park in the unmarked lot off Bridge Road, at the hairpin curve near the bridge, and slip down a tiny dune onto the beach itself, only about thirty feet or so of clear sand. If you arrive at low tide, you have the choice of heading right out into the bay, or, if it’s high tide, or if you just want a different beach experience, turn to your left for my dune-walk.
You will soon come across an ill-defined path through low-lying dunes and scrub, about ten to twenty feet from shore. If you venture off the dunes, closer to the shore, you’ll be treading on spongy peat riddled with hermit crabs. This is not a beach. This is just spongy peat and dune grass dropping sharply down to the shoreline. It is very hard to follow, and I wouldn’t suggest it. Though if you stand quietly on the peat at low tide, you will see shorebirds of every description and at high tide, a great number of ducks in their proper season.
But you are better off sticking to the dune paths, such as they are, keeping the bay to your right and heading south towards Rock Harbor and Dog Beach about a mile or so away.
When I make this walk, I am more than a little aware of the extremely expensive homes set back to my left, hidden in part by scrub and grass, with pathways and boardwalks leading into the dunes. Sometimes the existence of these formidable houses and my presence there makes me a little anxious. I am tramping modestly, but possibly illegitimately, all over their spectacular view. I understand there’s some ancient law in Massachusetts about high tide lines and private beaches which I haven’t researched yet. I may actually be trespassing and so might you—a risk worth taking.
Still, I’ve never encountered another living soul on this particular stretch of the bay. And I’ve not seen any signs, either, except for a notice asking that anyone here report suspicious behavior to the authorities. I don’t think my walking accounts for suspicious behavior.
On the other hand, I don’t walk very far. I’ve never made it all the way to Dog Beach. In the summertime I’ll often lie down between those shallow dunes and fall asleep with my hat under my head. I’m pretty sure I am invisible to the world. In cooler weather, I sit there and think, or maybe sketch a little. What you realize, while you are thinking and looking, is that the path you’ve been following has curved around Boatmeadow and you are now looking back at what amounts to a tiny harbor with its postage stamp beach, and then across to the river estuary and marshes. It’s not easy to describe in words how peaceful, how beautiful this place can be, which is why I am a painter and not a writer.
I’ve made several paintings of Boatmeadow, but none from this advantage. I find I need to walk a particular walk about fifty times or so before the landscape is held behind my retina, before I can take it back to the studio and say what I need to say about it. I have to view it in every season, at different times and weather conditions. I need to take hold of its infinite variety and special character before it is locked forever in memory.
There. I’ve shared my walk with you. Some say the Cape is insufferable in high season, and if I have to get to Stop and Shop or gas up my car, I’d agree. But you’d never know it at Boatmeadow Beach, especially along my dune walk. You’d never know there are thousands of cars pouring over the bridges, locked in limbo in Provincetown, funneling desperately into tiny cottages, hotels and motels seeking an experience they can’t really identify, something like the experience of Boatmeadow Beach and my dune-walk. You’d never know that."
—Anne Garton is a painter who lives in Eastham. She was the Poetry & FIction Editor of the original CapeWomen magazine and is represented by the Renjeau Galleries in Natick and Concord and by The Gallery at Twenty Pearl in Hyannis. Anne may be contacted through her website at: :www.annegarton.com