Does it get any better than where we live? I think not. Since our two sons were born, we’ve been “Sunday Drivers.” Tease me if you’d like, but I swear that half of their early language came from trips “around the Cape.” From such a young age, they would both ask to drive through downtown Rockport, around Halibut Point, through Lanesville, all through downtown Gloucester, past all of the whale watch boats and as much of the fishing fleet as possible, to Harbor Loop and the Coast Guard Station, to the State Fish Pier and the Grand Isle, through Rocky Neck, past Niles Beach, down to Eastern Point, around the back shore, past Good Harbor Beach, Long Beach, Cape Hedge Beach, and back home. Along the way, during the 6 years that we’ve been doing this, literally thousands of lessons have been learned. They learned about tides, lighthouses, the various types of boats in our fleet, the statues (they’ve been particularly fascinated by Joan of Arc), the bell buoys, the entrance buoys, the Independence (which no longer docks behind the Cruiseport and which they sorely miss), the schooners, the boat builders, conservation land, breakwaters, and so, so much more.
I LOVE that my boys love this area. I am in awe of how much they know and how well they can communicate it all to the people that we meet along the way. I am so grateful to the fishermen who have invited them aboard their boats, to the Coast Guard members who have given them spontaneous private tours, and police officers and harbor masters who have stopped to say “hello” and answered my boys’ questions (so, so many questions) as if they were the most important questions in the world. I love that their favorite foods are mussels and sushi and I love that there is nowhere they’d rather be on a warm afternoon than on a boat or sitting at Capt. Carlos, The Seaport Grille, Mile Marker 21, on Rocky Neck, Latitude’s, or Cape Ann Brewery having a snack and rating the boats from their favorite to their least favorite. I love that Finn looks into the dishwasher and says, “that spinny thing looks like a Furuno” and Thatcher likes to shout, “The sign says NO WAKE, you farmer!” (Maybe not so polite, but an important lesson none-the-less).
So, yesterday, with hockey having recently ended, we found ourselves with nothing to do. We enjoyed a yummy breakfast at Flav’s Red Skiff…where the boys love to sit at the counter and talk to Judy. While waiting for breakfast they studied a map of Cape Ann and found all of their favorite haunts. After we ate, we drove to Gloucester, parked at St. Peter’s Square and walked to Harbor Loop and back. Certainly not a long walk, by any stretch of the imagination. But, somehow, even on this cool, barely spring day, we turned it into almost a 3-hour tour. At the fine age of 6, Thatcher is still an emerging reader, and my favorite type of torture is making him read boat names. He pretends to complain when I don’t let him give up, but there’s nothing he’d rather be reading. Today we read the names of at least 30 boats. We learned about, Salt, the humpback whale (and practiced some more reading). Finn reminded me all about lines of latitude and longitude while looking at boats behind Latitude 43. We read about Fitz Hugh Lane and got inspired by stepping into his sandals. We read many of the signs along the way on the HarborWalk. We read about the various types of boats in Gloucester’s Coast Guard fleet. Thatcher taught some tourists about how you can tell what the length of a Coast Guard boat is…..and then taught them about the history of Thacher’s Island when they learned his name is Thatcher. Finn explained that he wanted to climb up the orca whale’s back and grab onto its dorsal fin…but that he wasn’t going to try to touch the pectoral fins. They both discussed north, south, east, and west while checking out the new compass rose. And they taught another lovely couple all about how they haul their own lobster traps, what the “rules” are, and how you tell males from females, and what would be considered a “short”, an “egger”, or a “cull.”
On the walk back to the car it started to rain and we ducked into Turtle Alley for a much deserved Aloha Turtle and piece of rock candy. Finn told me that he can’t wait for “that day when we eat hotdogs, hold the snakes, and do an art project”….by that he meant the Schooner Festival celebration at the Maritime Center. Thatcher chimed in and said that he loves the day when “we ride the little train, listen to the music, get our faces painted, and eat fried dough”….by that he meant the Sidewalk Bizarre. Spring is finally here….summer’s a coming. Cape Ann is amazing…and life is good.
Makes me want to channel a little Billy Joel.