Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Three Perfect Pearls

The kite was me! flying free in the sky for a while!

Back home again yesterday afternoon, after three perfect weather days at the shore. Considering we had wet miserable weather right up till I left, which resumed as soon as I got back, this was either brilliant judgment on my part or um, lucky.

I always take reading with me just in case, and this time it was the Treasury of Lynne Truss (you know, the Eats, Shoots and Leaves writer) which was just right, funny, incisive as always, just right for reading on the balcony, with a little glass of white wine at the end of a day of hiking in the sun.

Three comic novels, and many of her columns. Including a quotation from Virgina Woolf which was news to me about a stay she'd had alone in the country: three perfect pearls. Meaning the days. That was exactly the analogy I needed for this trip.

I always stay at the same place in Cape May, the Montreal Inn,

which is not paying me to say this! because it's not wildly expensive, unlike the foofy victorian b and bs downtown, Cape May being a restored Victorian shore town, complete with horse drawn carriages, old time trolleys,

wonderful gardens, gingerbread galore on the buildings, and very very expensive accommodations.

With flowers growing out of old brick walls

Without a beach view. No balcony either.

I always take a walk around town, though, since it's a federal regulation that you have to bring shore fudge home with you for your family, and that's where all the good candy places are. Also the horse carriages

and interesting tourists like the two ladies with a Yorkie each, wearing a little cotton dress, the Yorkies, not the ladies. I asked if that was resort wear, and they burst out laughing, yes, that's exactly what it is -- dogs in their shore gear.

One of them, the ladies, not the Yorkies, examined the pouch I wear around my neck for my cellphone, and asked technical questions about it, very intrigued. And said, listen, I was just on my way to the yarn store, I will definitely get some yarn to make one of those. Just single crochet, then an attached chain stitch, hm? yes, I can do that. And she trotted off, leaving her friend holding the two Yorkies who were quite dignified despite the little dresses, to get her yarn for her new project.

Meanwhile, back at the Inn, what I get is a balcony overlooking the Atlantic, no buildings between you and it, and you can sit and just enjoy whatever is going on.

It's a lazy person's place -- the first afternoon I watched about a dozen dolphins frolicking about right in front of me, no need to go looking.

And on my second morning, I noticed, as I drank my coffee and stretched out in the sun, that the road below me was being closed off. A 10K run was about to pass in front of us, great show -- many many runners, including some seriously good ones who make you think oh, I can do that, and less great ones who show you just how hard this really is, and wheelchair athletes,

and moms with running strollers, and whole families running in varying ways,

and one great sight of two runners propelling a totally disabled man, who could this way take part in the race.

Good humor all around, and the firetruck,

acting as potential ambulance, following the stragglers who were down to a gentle walk, at about one mph.

All the runners were slender, even the less experienced ones, and most of the watcher up on the balconies, munching doughnuts with their coffee were, um, more generously built! but we all waved our doughnuts and cheered lustily for our favorites, like the two young boys, maybe about ten years old, moving with determination, and the whole families, and the older women laughing and running at the same time.

One of the wonderful things about this shoreline is that there are beachfront public roads, all beaches are public,

you can never have a hotel building right on the sand in such a way that only their guests can get onto the beach, unlike some regrettable places in Florida.

As well as watching dolphins in the water, there are cormorants flying overhead, and human anglers on the beach. Fishing was evidently very good, since they all found something while I was watching, even the humans, the least adept of all the animals out there fishing. Note the striped bass caught, poor guy, by a human just a few minutes before I strolled down the beach.

The angler was very excited to be in a photograph, and carefully selected the ocean as his background.

In defense of the fisherman, though I normally hate fishing and hunting, around here people really do eat their catch, either deer or fish, so that's something. Not trophies.

Cape May is an odd place, since the people who go for the Victoriana, special events, olde tyme concerts and trolley rides and dressup dances and historical tours, have practically nothing in common with the people who go there, like me, because it's the premier raptor watching spot in the whole country.

Birder doll at the Cape May Bird Observatory, dressed in typical not-a-fashion-victim birder style.

We are on the eastern flyway that birds and monarch butterflies use as their main route north and south, and Cape May is especially interesting in that the freshwater marshes and ponds run almost to the ocean, where all the saltwater life takes over. You can walk from one to the other in about a mile, across Cape May Meadows.

Forster's terns in both locations, to them it's all the same place.

And it has been a whaling place in the past

In the fall, I have been here in butterfly migration time, when all the shorefront buildings and fences were covered in resting monarch butterflies, and the sky was full of them, flying amazingly high in the air. Not so many nowadays, but they are reviving.

Up on the hawk watch platform you can see cormorants flying up the coast from Maryland and Delaware, and all kinds of exciting huge birds overhead. Also people with a lot more knowledge than I willing to ID birds for me. I spent a valuable time this time around with a gentleman who has been birding for over 70 years and pointed out all kinds of birds and animals I would have missed but for him.

And the trails, walkways built across the marshes, give access to areas where you can see wonderful animals, like this turtle,

and this black snake,

without disturbing them. Some people are disturbed by suddenly coming on a snake, but I love them and seek them out.

And the sea makes art as the tide ebbs

And in my last few minutes of balcony time on my last evening, a bald eagle flew lazy circles high in the air, as a grand finale to my birding trip! it was like the fireworks at the end of the Fourth of July celebration, Sousa in the background, all that, and a living postage stamp flying over me! blogistas from other parts of the world are most probably aware that the eagle is the iconic US image, used mainly on our post office logos, and personified as Sam the American Eagle on Sesame Street...

And so home to family, who did very well in my absence, but were happy to be presented with fudge and tshirts.


  1. Lovely post Liz. Felt like I was there with you.

  2. That looks like the sort of place I would love to spend a few days in. Thank you again for all the wonderful photos. I like all the old buildings and things but the access to the natural world is great. Lucky you and great fudge too!! I hope your batteries are sufficiently recharged.


  3. A great piece of writing and wonderful pics, very buoyant!


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