Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Stay in Truro

In May 2009, while winding our way to Venice, Robert and I took the ferry from Boston to Cape Cod to visit a couple of his dear friends. The boat docks in Provincetown which, if you haven’t been, is on every gay man’s bucket-list but shouldn’t be. Once quaint I am sure, the town is now a caricatured amusement park of its bygone offbeat self. Our final destination was to be Truro, a lesser known, lesser gay, still quaint, town further up the Cape.

After disembarking, Robert and I were met by Mitch and his wife Judy. Not entirely recovered from the two hours of being on a seafaring tilt-a-whirl, I sat in the back of the SUV and listened quietly while these longstanding friends caught up. Interspersed amongst the gossip were sprinklings of Cape Cod trivia provided by Mitch, one particularly interesting fact being that the Pilgrims did not first go ashore in Plymouth, as is the popular lore even amongst Americans, but rather had first gone to Truro. Curious, I later researched this titbit and stumbled upon an historical irony surrounding the arrival of the Mayflower that I positively relish. These religious puritans (similar in beliefs and practices to today’s Baptists, Congregationalists, and Methodists) first dropped anchor on November 21, 1620 in Provincetown Harbour; the future site of the gayest place on earth, right after San Francisco’s Castro District and the Vatican. After which they proceeded to explore Truro as a possible place for settlement--and promptly left. No reflection on the place in its current state.

In a short time the drive brought us to the hillside enclave of four homes (the combined plot of land could have fit a small subdivision) where Mitch and Judy had built their beautiful abode which had been designed by their architect son and his architect wife. It is modern in its lines, including a flat roof, but kept with regional tradition in its exterior finishes such as the clapboard siding.  The property, a few acres of it, had for the most part been left to the indigenous coastal flora. Tall poverty grass, subtle wild flowers and wind pruned trees like pitch pine were made part of the home’s decor through large windows.

Bright and engaging, Mitch and Judy were gracious hosts. Mitch is a wonderfully pragmatic man who once took a silver-set to the public dump simply because they never used it - a treasured find that was quickly snatched up by others. (It would seem from the description that the site was actually somewhat of a free-market open-air exchange for locals.)  Subsequently, on a different run, Mitch picked up a rusted grate which he refurbished and repurposed as a tabletop, because he needed a tabletop. After recently having purged myself of most of my worldly possessions (it’s just stuff after all), his pragmatism had a very rational charm to it.

Judy is an extremely sweet woman whose self-proclaimed type-A tendencies with regard to tidiness are endearing, almost beautiful, to watch. She was as delicate, unobtrusive and welcome as a humming bird as she cleaned alongside me while I worked in the kitchen. Directly alongside me, as if I had two additional autonomous arms rushing to diligently conceal my trail.
During our outings Mitch would not only share his knowledge about the Cape, its ecology and history, but also would provide quick insights of his neighbours (aka gossip).  The three neighbours which shared the vast hillside reserve consisted of; a couple who were both judges (from western Massachusetts who got together on the Cape to live in sin supposedly unbeknownst to their hometown friends—scandalous), and a couple who were both architects (gay and impossibly bitchy, they didn’t abide by the environmental protection codes) and a couple who were both psychiatrists (No juicy scoop on them, but they’re psychiatrists so you know they’re definitely not normal--my generalization not Mitch’s.) It would appear to me that in Truro there are some very strict, two-by-two, cohabitation laws. I can only assume, but didn’t confirm, that Mitch and Judy had a type of zoning waiver since he, formerly being in real estate, was a painter and she is a retired school principal. Who cohabitates with someone outside their own profession?

Further down the hill was a woman who lived in a lovely yellow saltbox house whose garden we raided for the ingredients to a salad as we were taking a shortcut through her yard. (Both acts Mitch assured us were perfectly acceptable amongst congenial neighbours.) This particular neighbour loves to travel, Nepal being her destination of choice. Periodically, we were told, she brings back a Sherpa or two. Yes, a Sherpa--or two. I’m not sure what one goes for these days, but apparently they are very conscientious, hard working men who put in a six month tour and then go back to Nepal.

In addition to providing general labour, they are skilled builders who construct delightful, but durable structures, such as little cages of woven branches for the roses and charming little huts without the use of nails. It is a remarkably generous act on her part, but who does that? Seriously, if you want to ensure that your money is getting to the people who need it most, hire them directly. 

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