2020 Life Logs, Day 272: Love Affair with Cape Cod
Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Weather: Cloudy with Some Sunny Periods; High 74, Low 68 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, Falmouth, MA

Note: This log was written prior to tonight’s debate. I’ll address that debacle tomorrow night.

Today was a day of wonder and awe for me. I know I live in a beautiful corner of this earth, but today I fell in love with it all over again.
I picked Ollie up after his half day of school and loved hearing him say he thinks he has the best teacher in all the world. What a wonderful thing to hear. Then I headed to Woods Hole for a tour with the Newcomers Teacher Group. The tour was arranged by friend Jane Woodin. Thank you, Jane. It was a small group and all of us wore masks and tried to keep a good distance between ourselves. The tour guide was a Woods Hole native and as he talked about the history of the tiny little village, you could hear the love of the place in his voice. I’d seen everything we were looking at many, many times, but somehow the quiet passion of the tour guide gave me a different perspective. We learned a few things about the history of the village that I didn’t know and reviewed things I did know about the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the Marine Biological Lab (MBL), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), all within a 5 minute walk from one to the other. Wow! That’s a lot of science in one little village. Near the end of the tour we walked through the community gardens, past the majestic copper beech trees, and back to the Woods Hole Historical Museum. There is a little stone marker there noting that Woods Hole resident Michael Walsh made the Cape Cod Rambler Rose world famous. Walsh was a Welsh man of Irish descent who came to Woods Hole in 1875 to work as a gardener for a local summer resident. In the 1890’s he began developing the rambler rose and today the beauty of this rose is an icon of the Cape and Islands.

On the way home, I took the beach road that goes past Nobska Lighthouse, one of my favorite views in the world. And when I got home, I sat down by the dock and soaked in the beauty of the marsh while playing ball with Shadow. At that point, I truly felt like I had spent my afternoon literally inhaling beauty. So lucky to live here. But it is not just the scenery. On a night when I plan to watch the presidential debate, it is comforting to know that I am surrounded by beautiful people here on the Cape. One of those people is Jerry Lanson, a fellow Newcomer and the person who led the Memoir Writing class that I participated in last winter. Due to Jerry’s support, I made progress toward writing the story of the Voyage of Windbird. Hopefully that will become a book at some point in the future, but not without the encouragement of people like Jerry. I contacted him today to sign up for a new Newcomers Zoom group, Public Policy in Turbulent Times. In doing so, Jerry sent me a link to a piece he wrote that was in yesterday’s Cape Cod Times. People like Jerry are the other reason I love living here . . . beautiful scenery and beautiful people. Here’s Jerry’s opinion piece.

OPINION/MY VIEW: Why political signs matter
By Jerry Lanson
Posted Sep 28, 2020

“I like your sign,” a neighbor shouted out, walking past with her dog. Another neighbor, passing Kathy in front of our house one morning recently, told her the same.

We bought a smallish 18? by 24? Biden/Harris sign on Amazon last week and planted it in the front yard by the driveway. I’m realizing it’s serving a more important purpose than just to make us feel good.

Even here in East Falmouth, in ostensibly liberal Massachusetts, there are plenty of Trump supporters and plenty of people who are upset about the protests that have swept the country. Neighbors on one side of us and neighbors a few houses up across the street have planted “Support the Police” signs in their front lawns.

I actually share that sentiment, though I’d supplement it with signs reading “Retrain the Police” and “Improve the Police” and “Diversify the Police.” What’s offensive to me about these signs is the blue stripe they boast, a not-so-subtle reminder of the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, a suggestion that the lives of cops matter more than the lives of citizens of color whom they are empowered to protect.

What I’ve come to realize, as a retired journalism professor and before that a working journalist, is that this is not an election for me to play it safe, to sit on the sidelines, to quietly stand by my beliefs and let others do the work, give the donations and do the talking. I now can speak my mind freely.

What’s more, I fully and firmly believe that American democracy is on the line this November, that our institutions and Constitution are under attack. Global survival, too, may be on the ballot. I look at our western apocalypse of flames, the hurricanes lashing the South, the crumbling ice of Antarctica. I see our eroding beaches right here on the Cape, and I know it’s not a time for silence but a time for action.

Signs, of course, are anything but new to political seasons. And the signs up and down my street convey a range of political views, as is always the case. Still, posting signs this election cycle seems more important to me than ever. I want to do my part to affirm for those who share my views that they are in plentiful company. I want to tell those with whom I disagree that while I respect them personally, their views don’t dominate my block. And I want to encourage others to join the messy debate that is democracy. To speak out, plant signs, make phone calls and work in whatever way possible to bring about change.

Next week we’ll be getting another sign from Amazon. It reads “Hate Has No Home Here.” Beneath it, from left to right, are an American flag, a heart with the words “Black Lives Matter,” and a rainbow heart.

If some believe America is not big enough to welcome everyone, in my view that is their problem, not mine. Those who share my views should not just stand quietly by their beliefs in the turmoil that is the United States today, but give those beliefs voice, clearly, firmly, openly and, ultimately, at the voting booth.

Jerry Lanson is a retired journalism professor and a resident of East Falmouth.

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