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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

'Acceptable sorrow' after storm

Over the past week, the Outer Beach of Cape Cod was pounded with two northeasters (or "Naw-EAST-ahs", as the locals call them), with another one possibly on tap for Monday.

I had the opportunity to check out the meteorological madness at Nauset Light Beach and Coast Guard Beach on March 3. At Nauset Light, I was almost taken out by a rogue wave that powered its way over the dune. The wave knocked me off to the side, while two others fell into the path of the incoming water. Other than getting pretty wet, they were OK.

Much of the news and activities from the past week are rounded up on the "Don Wilding's Cape Cod" Facebook page. Liam's at Nauset Beach is now hanging on the edge of the sand and could be gone, either by way of wave or man, any time now. The house on the cliff just north of Nauset Light was demolished on Friday.

Tears are being shed today on the Outer Cape. On Friday, photographer Danya Mahota noted that "Nauset was sad today .... People huddled, hugging, crying." It reminded me of the stories relayed to me following the demise of Henry Beston's "Outermost House" after the "Blizzard of '78", which changed Coast Guard Beach forever.

In her book, Journey to Outermost House, the late Nan Turner Waldron wrote:

"The little house is gone. Henry Beston and the high dunes of Nauset are gone, as all things eventually are in this temporal passage ... Such a sudden loss." After explaining how many people wrote to her expressing their sorrow about the loss of the "Fo'castle," Waldron went on: "I found it acceptable sorrow, change compatible with living."

Waldron then quoted Beston from his introduction to the Eastham Tercentenary: 1651-1951:

"All life is gone, and yet places in America where the Indian lived his life in its primitive vitality and awareness, always seem to keep a kind of ghostly remembrance of him in the intangible air. Something of the sort lingers in the Eastham scene, and it means that the American earth of Cape Cod and the human spirit were conscious of each other before history began."

Waldron then added: "Now that the storms of 1990 have unearthed, close to where I walked daily, the dwellings of a people much earlier than the Nausets, I ponder the idea of 'ghostly remembrance' and spirit and connections."

Later in that chapter, Waldron added what's become one of my favorite observations from her years staying at Beston's house, and I was reminded of on several occasions over the past week:

"Every one of us needs to feel beyond self: to feel small measured against the distant horizons; to feel powerless against the winds; to feel voiceless against the thunder of the storm."

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