Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009 - The Glades, Scituate, Massachusetts

From the moment that you step beyond the gates, you know you're not in the real world any more. This is the Glades, a mystical, private, historic place.

The road is narrower, beyond the gates. And it's not even the same texture as the road outside. The dense forest on either side of the road closes in on you, bringing the wildlife within reaching distance. At this time of the year, it's the usual suspects: chickadees, titmice and robins, lots of robins.

There's a second gate, and a break in the woods. A few months ago we chased a southwestern visitor, a cave swallow, here, right on the rocks. Pulpit Rock is just behind the brush, where invisible preachers toss their words onto the breezes and out to sea. The seaside forest closes in once again, and then fades toward the point. Minot's Light stands coldly out in the distance.

As I tromped, a blue jay alarm-called to my rear. Before I could spin around a Cooper's hawk dove over my left shoulder and flew up the road. But all I got was a hind quarters look as it tore the air with its wings. At the point, I spied on the harbor seals sunning themselves on the offshore rocks. I don't think they saw me.

I turned for home in view of the old Glades House and as I did, the Cooper's hawk returned. It took no heed of me as it plunged into the brush ahead of me in pursuit of a very frightened robin. Less than half the killer's size, the robin escaped through a passerine-sized hole, and lit in a nearby tree, chirping a warning to its friends. The hawk extracted itself and circled the tree, but gave up and headed for the shoreline. As it landed on a flagpole cross-arm, a red-tailed hawk took its place in the sky.

The Humane Society - the one with all the lifeboat history, not the one that saves cats and dogs - had a lifeboat station out here, and it still stands today. The echoes here are of Hunnewells and Addams's, of talk of yacht races, and high times in the 19-teens. There are rumrunning memories here, too, including the scary story of a Coast Guardsmen beaten senseless by bootleggers while on patrol. There is more military history here as well, with observation towers looking out to sea.

One almost hates to leave the Glades, as if leaving it behind is stepping out of a fantasy world that is part safari, part time travel. But such was my fate today.

Time: 62 minutes.

New species: None.
Stranger hellos: 5 (44)

What else got done: half a day of work; dinner with Taylor and Tabitha in Sharon; doctor's appointment (ear, thyroid); gave a talk for the Foxboro Historical Society on Life-Saving Service history.

1 comment:

  1. A Cleft in the Rock
    October 19, 1978, 4:30 A.M., 38°F, a thermos full of coffee, I’m wearing a wool hooded coat, the sky is getting lighter and I leave the house for the one mile walk along the sea wall to the end of Glades Road. It really isn’t the end of Glades Road, but there is a gate stretched across the road with a Private property sign stopping all non-natives from going any further. I’m not a non-native so I hurdle the gate and continue my walk through a narrow poorly paved path/road which leads to the end of the peninsula which points out at Minot Light, the famous 1—4—3 signal which had saved so many ships over the last two centuries from crashing on the infamous Cohasset ledges protecting the entrance to Cohasset Harbor.
    About a half mile from the gate, a stone wall joins to the road and leads to the top of a raised ledge directly on the coast. Climbing along the wall brought me to the round top of the ledge and across it to the edge, 40 feet above the rocky shore beneath. At the very edge of the cliff was a V-shaped cutout with its base being a flat rock triangle. On the base I saw a broken piece of green glass, a piece from a Heineken bottle from some earlier party. At least they picked a quality beer. I cleaned up the pieces and sat down facing the ocean.
    The sun was still below the razor sharp horizon in the East but there was enough light to read by, so I took the Jerusalem Bible New Testament paperback from my jacket pocket and opened it to my favorite part, the opening chapter of the Gospel of Mark. It is my favorite because it is the first Gospel written (65-75AD) and presents more unedited problems for the later Evangelists to have to deal with. I began to read: “Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God, saying, ‘the time has been fulfilled for the Kingdom of God is within you. Change the way you think and believe this ‘good news’’”(Mk.1:14-15).
    I put the book away and began to look at the glowing horizon to the East. I checked my watch. It was 5:15 A.M. my breathing calmed down, and began to flush any thoughts that came into my mind. Then a flash of brilliant light peaked over the razor’s edge but I didn’t think it was the sun “rising”, I knew better; it was the earth, on which I sat on this clear Friday morning, the earth ever so continuously rotating toward the East. I could “feel” it turning. For four minutes, the blazing ball of light cleared the ocean’s edge. My heart became very still, I was transported into a celestial body, feeling the warmth as the light bathed my body. I continued my silent vigil and the light from the sun splashed on the very small ripples on the ocean surface and reflected at an angle to my eyes in a dazzling blast of light. As I looked at it, it occurred to me for the very first time in my life just what I was looking at. It was a billion reflections of the sun itself, each reflection a separate mirror reflection of the perfect little disk of the sun. If the ocean had been as flat as a mirror, then what I would have seen would have been one disk, the sun itself in one reflection.
    This is not a divine revelation, but it was a contemplative event. I was so grateful, all I could do was thank God that I got up at 4:30, and saw what God has done, for it was very, very good.
    Charlie Mc