One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Beautiful Moments


Our June is not quite living up to the promise set out by previous years.   Although we’ve had a few days in the 60s and fewer in the 70s, we’ve had little of those warming, sunny days when the sweet fragrance of blooming roses and peonies and heliotrope scent the air in every direction.  And often it has seemed a little cloudy and gloomy and chilly.


So when I woke up after Saturday’s double shift and discovered the sun shining brightly, I was pretty excited.  After a first cup of coffee, I made my way downstairs to the driveway garden, where I’d been anticipating all week the opening of a new iris.  You can see I was rewarded and in spectacular fashion.   This iris is Gypsy Princess, and is one of several roots sent to me last summer by my friend Lili.  Yes, Lili sent me irises.  Too confusing?  Try to keep up.

Gypsy Princess.   The name may not be very PC, but otherwise it seems quite fitting for this stunning iris, with its multi-colors and frilly edges.   Marc, you’ll be happy to know that I detect the faintest lemon fragrance – perhaps more like a lemon cream cookie than an actual lemon – it’s lovely.  And quite a surprise, as the bud of the past week hadn’t suggested such beauty in advance.

At the moment, there’s only a single root of this particular plant, so there’s no point you going on about what a wonderful friend I am, and how happy you’d be to welcome a division of this particular sweetheart to your garden.  Just let it be.

While I was admiring the new beauty, I met up with the Downstairses, who were scurrying around getting themselves organized for a trip to the Outer Beach and invited me to come along with them.  What better way to welcome one of this June’s few banner days?   I quickly joined them in scurrying.

Beach chair:  check.   Bathing suit/shorts:  check.  Sunglasses:  check.   Bottled water:  check.   Beach towel:  check.  Sandwich ordered and awaiting pick-up at the deli:  check.   Empty memory card and charged up batteries:  check.   Ah, but where the heck was the Bug and Sun lotion?


When folks on the Cape speak of the Outer Beach, we are talking about the great ocean beaches, particularly those stretches only accessible by off-road vehicles.    While often crowded themselves, these areas are still less of a mob scene than those public beach areas with their great parking lots and lugging of stuff out onto the hot sand.

Environmentalist that I am, I do have some misgivings about driving motor vehicles onto the beach.  Ideally, one would pack up one’s stuff and hike to that perfect and pristine, private location.  But some traditions are simply bigger than me and it’s quite a treat after a short ride to find oneself far away from the madding crowd in a place where the surf and the gulls are among the only sounds in my ears.

Of course, this time of year, many of the ORV areas are closed down, due to it being nesting season for the piping plover.  Tiny birds, after all, lay tiny eggs in tiny nests and they are easily trampled by unwitting beachgoers.   Consequently, these birds are sort of hated around here, since they prevent the full measure of outer beach areas to open until mid-July.


Oh, it was a beautiful day, with bright sunshine and temperatures just below the 70 degree mark.   A nice breeze was blowing in off the ocean and we arrived just past high tide.   Friends were met and fishing poles were set up.   I didn’t do any fishing (being a klutz of the highest order, barbed hooks and I don’t get on too well) but still watched with interest.  Beneath the waves in front of where we set up camp is a deep hole, where fish often become trapped as the tide recedes, so that was part of the plan.  Because of the deep hole, there’s also a break off shore, which attracts a few surfers.


There was much casting and little action, aside from the occasional lost lure.   Typical fishing non-drama.   At one point, though, the call went up and we were all able to see a great school of striped bass breaching out of the water as they swam north along the shore, teasing all those with lines in the water.    In addition to the on-shore fishers, there was also a guy on a surf board with a fishing pole:  it seemed like he was more likely to catch a Nantucket sleighride than dinner, but each to his own pursuits.

There were also a number of seals off shore and if anyone had success with fishing, it was them.


Well, and the gulls, too, of course.


What with the cool breezes and the relaxation, I sort of forgot about the sunscreen, as often happens on that first trip to the beach each year.   I did remember before too much time had passed and P had some to share, so I only ended up with a slight burn, though on the tops of ones feet you don’t need more than a little to give you those ouchy moments.    Still, it was nice to get a little color as the summer season threatens, and I’m happy to report that I have now purchased my own fresh supply of the stuff (and some soothing aloe gel, as well!), so I’m all stocked up for the sunny days to come.

On the whole, it was a beautiful day, full of beautiful moments and just the thing to finish off a busy weekend.


The day’s beauty was tempered, however, when I got home and received word of a Great Sadness which had befallen my friend Patrick and his family, with the loss of his dear brother James in an auto accident on Saturday.   Although I never had the pleasure of meeting James, I’ve heard and read many fun-filled stories of Lacey Family gatherings and vacations, including a sweet scrapbook of a Cape Cod vacation.  The sadness I have felt is not lessened much by not having known him.

At times like this, I never feel like I’m much of a writer, like all the words just run away from me, or else they sit around weeping, offering none of their usual usefulness and I’ve been madly scribbling bits the last few days in vain, trying to find what to say with little success.  I hope, as Birdie recently suggested, that our sharing in such sorrow helps to lessen it for our friends.  My love and support and condolences go out to my pal and his family and I know that mine is just a small portion of the great cloud of love and good wishes which is currently hovering about them.  I wish them peace.

I made this video while I was at the beach, as I thought you all might find it peaceful.  Even moreso now, I hope it brings you comfort.   After you’ve watched it, call someone from your family or a  dear friend – tell them you love them.   If you need to apologize to someone for something, do it.   I beg you not to hold grudges and let there be rifts between you and those you care for.   Don’t ever put off Loving ’til tomorrow.

Sometimes the beautiful moments before us are all we have.



Comments on: "Beautiful Moments" (8)

  1. the ocean looks marvellous! i’ve never seen the ocean before. someday i’ll make it there.

  2. Loved the video! I’ve been to the both ocean’s beaches but don’t remember the Atlantic. From what I heard, I didn a lot of beach combing.

  3. Oh…and I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s passing!

  4. This is just beautiful, Greg. I’m glad you got a day on the outer beach to fuel you with peace.

  5. It amazes the work required to undertake something as simple as spending a sunny day on the shore. I marveled recently how much prep time I take to go on a bike ride, yet when I was a kid I simply came home, dropped off my book bag, jumped on the bike and spent hours tooling around. Now there are water bottles to be filled, sunscreen to be applied, all sorts of equipment to be secured into place. Nothing is as simple as it once was. But perhaps this is why those stolen moments are all the more precious to us.

    Do not fret about not finding the right words to share with grieving friends. I’ve found that in times like these, silence and the holding of hands speak far more than anything anyone could say.

    My heart goes out to all of you during this difficult time.

    Ha ha, Curt, yes, I know exactly what you mean. Of course, when we were kids, we didn’t have bike helmets and that sort of stuff, it really _was_ just easier to get up and go. As you suggest, back then it was just after school. Now it’s something more special!

    Silence and hand-holding just don’t translate as well to our modern online age, but I agree those comforts are the best.

  6. The iris is beautiful, and brings to mind a glass of champaign.

    The day on the beach looks like a lot of fun. There’s a special, particular joy in fishing. I think it’s the excitement of anticipation as much as actually catching a fish. That, and sitting by the water’s edge or in a boat (or surfboard??) on the water. It’s a quiet, peaceful endeavor.

    I get a similar feel from watching baseball. There are long stretches of play where not much happens. But it’s all strategy, and there is much anticipation of the possible hit, run, or double or triple play. Like fish grabbing the bait, sometimes there’s a rush of action on the field. It is thrilling.

    I received an email from my father this evening. That’s a rare event, as he is very old-fashioned about communication. He wrote to his children tonight, though, because the son of some friends died of a sudden heart attack this week. The young man was only 31 years old. My dad was struck with a strong desire to reach out to his children and communicate his love for us. Of course I thought of Patrick and his family’s loss of their dear son and brother. How sudden, how tragic, how it leaves us feeling helpless.

    I’m having some trouble communicating my sorrow and support to Patrick, also. I’d love to give him a hug, or sit beside him quietly. But the geographical distance prevents those expressions, unfortunately. And sometimes words just can’t substitute for a hug.

  7. This was beautiful. I love the peace of the ocean, especially at dusk.

    When words of condolence fail, the best are simply, “I’m sorry.” It is the equivalent of a hug across the miles.

  8. I have to admit the last bit of your post left me with tears standing in my eyes. I send my sympathy to Patrick since I too lost my brother four years ago. And it’s true what you say, don’t ever leave loving until it’s too late. Don’t take it for granted either.

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