Posted tagged ‘Cape Cod’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

August 1, 2013

seaweed and sand interesting image # 1

This masterpiece was created by ocean waves challenging the sand and weeds on the beach. I was enchanted by such “paintings” during my walks on Solana Beach, California, this past June.

Seaweed and sand interesting image #2

And here is another one!  The sand of Solana Beach is characteristically gray in comparison to the light beige of other sands I know on Cape Cod and Florida. It is that wide range of grayness that makes these images from Solana Beach so strong and unique. Their beauty and temporariness evoked my desire to make them a bit more permanent – with my photographic lens.

Little Flower Girl playing in the beach sand

Children love to play with sand on the beach, regardless what are the circumstances. I took this photo a few years ago while watching a formal wedding ceremony on Silver Beach (Cape Cod). This little Flower Girl just had to play with sand the minute her work of throwing petals was done!

Children seem to recognize instinctively the hidden beauty of seemingly ordinary things. Fortunately some adults do too.”Every grain of sand is a jewel waiting to be discovered,” according to Dr. Gary Greenberg of Hawaii who combines his knowledge of science and art of photography with amazing results. Thanks to my friend Valerie, who introduced me to Greenberg’s photography, I can share it with you.

See awesome masterpieces of nature under our feet!

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

July 18, 2013

Boats at the harbor at dusk

The “golden hour” – a relatively short time when the day meets the night or when the night meets the day. A truly magical moment filled with a soft sunlight and its gentle power of evoking tranquility and stillness. That special energy negates the turbulence of the day or restlessness of the night.

Sunset at the beach of Cape Cod

Beach sand at dusk

Three women sitting at the beach watching sunset

View of the coasline at dusk

Sky and the ocean after sunset

Those are some golden moments I captured last year on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This post will be published late in a “wee hour” of the night rather than a golden one. I think it is better late than not at all.

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

March 7, 2013

I have been so lost in time lately, absorbed by the detailed work of finishing an important publishing project, that I almost missed today’s deadline for this photo challenge (by Word Press). Actually I found the title and description of the challenge a bit confusing and decided to interpret it as Lost and Found in the Details.

Here is how I see it:

Silver Beach on Cape Cod, MA

Silver Beach, Cape Cod

Walking on this familiar beach after the high tide you can see the dark clumps of seaweed on its sand. They are not very attractive and soon will be removed to make the beach more pleasant for visitors. Those clumps are not attractive at first, but there is some beauty in them that I tried to capture it in this photo.

Seaweed and sea shells  entangeled on the beach

Sea Offerings

The seaweed entangled with the shells, the color, the texture, and the feeling of some mystery attracted me enough that this photo, in a large format, hangs in my studio as a reminder of my visits with the ocean.

New Orleans building with the decorative iron work

Charm of New Orleans

The minute I walked into the New Orleans streets, I was charmed by that city’s ambiance and its characteristic architecture with the decorative iron work. The detail of that ornamental work represents for me the essence of that New Orleans charm – visually.

Detail of the ornamental iron work

Detail of the ornamental iron work

The above examples of details were sought by me intentionally, but sometimes one can stumble on such detail accidentally. That was the case with a photograph I took in my native Warsaw (Poland) a few years ago. I was attracted to the balcony full of flowers on Nowy Swiat (New World) street and only much later discovered the very attractive decorative details of the building on both sides of the balcony.

Warsaw balcony and flowers

Warsaw balcony and flowers

It is so nice to have flowers around us in many forms – they bring smiles to our lives.


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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann


Unsent Postcard

September 28, 2012

Postcard from Alicja Mann

Dear Readers,

Please consider this to be a belated postcard from Cape Cod, one of the most charming vacation spots in this country and my “old home” place.

As I stated in my previous post, it was my intention to have a long, true time off from work and a real vacation. Well, it was a long time all right, but not as restful and free of stress as I desired.

Sometimes life presents us with challenging situations and even dramas that throw us off balance. I found myself in such a spot lately because of a difficult family conflict relating to my motherhood. Having a painful time with it, I needed a lot of solitude and was not very communicative or sociable for a couple of months. I am sure that I disappointed some of my readers by not responding to their comments before and during my “vacation”. The same goes for not returning my friends’ calls or answering their e-mails. I apologize and will try to correct that.

The great benefit of being on the Cape was having the ocean nearby. I loved my numerous visits with it — the soothing sound and touch of waves, and the ever changing texture of the beach.

Footprints and water on the beach

Summer afternoons on my favorite Silver Beach were always crowded with people, young and old, but mostly families with kids. I even took pictures of two boys that closely resembled my sons when they were in that happy, care free stage years ago.

Two boys on the beach

Like my Taurus; Like my Leo

Toys on the beach

After a few afternoon visits to the beach, I decided that they were not good for my psyche—they were too nostalgic! So instead, I decided to make my visits to Silver Beach in the very late afternoons, until the sunset. It really was a great idea! I loved that time when almost no one was there—except me and my shadow.

Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Ocean and the beach to my right

Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Ocean and the beach to my left

Sun over waves

Ocean in front of me

Two views of Silver Beach at sunset

Beach around me

Sunsets do not need any comments or captions!

Two views of sunset at Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sun at horizon, Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sun below horizon, Silver Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Alicja Mann's shadow waving goodbye Farewell to Cape Cod and hello sunny Tucson!

P.S. To see more Cape scenery, please visit my previous posts:

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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Cape Cod Sensuality

September 8, 2011

Moments of “less is more” in using words are of great importance. Bits of happiness and tragedy are captured in those moments. Poems are born in such moments. My desire to define the essence of my love for Cape Cod calls for such a moment.

I fell in love with the Southwest a decade ago and made Tucson my home, yet each summer I “go back home” to the Cape. The call of the Southwest and the call of Cape Cod divide my heart.

What is that call of the Cape made of?

For me it lies in the Cape’s sensuality. Yes, sensuality! Sensuality of the tastes and textures of the place. When I leave the Cape in a few weeks to answer the call of the Southwest, I know that I will also hear The Call of Cape Cod.

My bare feet will long for the silkiness of the beach sand

and the touch of frothy waves.

Eyes will miss the huddled boats in the harbor and the lonely ones

on the infinite ocean horizon.

Tongue will remember the bitter taste of the ocean water and the sweetness

of the native scallops.

Hands will not forget the roughness of the weathered shingles and the gentle touch

of white pine needles.

My heart will know how to answer that call….

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Copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Cape Cod Window, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Cape Cod Shingles and Flowers - photo by Alicja Mann

Huddled Boats in Woods Hole, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Woods Hole Eel Pond, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Mermaid watching - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach Umbrella - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Lost in the Beach Sand & Crowded Shells - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photos by Alicja Mann

Joy of the Mermaids - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Little Mermaid - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Nature Art - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Seagull Watching - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Resting Kayaks - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach Dune - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach at Dusk - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Restaurant with the view - Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Tasty Native Scallops - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

After the Sunset at West Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

From Our Deck - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

White Pine - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Matt’s Hammock - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Alicja’s shadow - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

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Photos and text copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Plants That Can Kill

April 7, 2011

Oh, Spring! Who does not love it? Plants are awakening and blooming tenderly. The month of April in my native Polish is called nicely Kwiecien, derived from the words kwiecie meaning blossom and kwiat meaning flower. It is a month when many plants show their spring bloom.

Yellow tulips

Plant — a living organism, other than animal, capable of photosynthesis. In Polish the word is roslina, in German, die Pflanze and in Russian, rastenie. English also has another meaning of the word plant which these languages don’t — equipment, a factory, an industrial place of mechanical operation or process — and that was always strange to me.

So a plant in English can also be a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear Power Plants
Arkansas Grand Gulf

This spring we are all deeply concerned about the fate of these kinds of plants — the nuclear power plants of Fukushima, after Japan experienced the deadly earthquake and tsunami a few weeks ago. Indeed there are serious reasons to be alarmed and fearful! A lot has been written about that already. I highly recommend reading The New Yorker March 28 issue, The Nation April 4, 2011 issue, and also the blog Redtree Times of GC Myers dated April 3, 2011.

My personal fear and immense dislike of nuclear power plants started a long time ago — in 1979 after the Three Mile Island accident. I was already living in this country and the mother of two small children. I was simply terrified because we lived in North Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and were only 20 miles from a nuclear power plant named Pilgrim in nearby Plymouth. Till today Pilgrim is the only plant in Massachusetts, built in 1972, and therefore relatively new at that time.

My response to the Three Mile Island accident was very intense — as a mother, a biologist and a budding writer. I participated in a variety of organized protests and rallies, took nuclear awareness workshops, and read everything I could find about the Karen Silkwood case. In my personal protest I drove around the Pilgrim power plant with my children sitting at the car windows and with “No Nukes“ and “Split Wood not Atoms” slogans pasted on the bumper of our car. Finally I wrote a poem and illustrated, printed, and distributed it whenever I could.

Here is a reproduction of the original copy. If it speaks to you, please use it (with an appropriate credit).

"Stony Tulips" by Alicja Mann
Click to enlarge and/or print (PDF)

That was 1979. Then came Chernobyl in 1986. Again I was strongly affected — this time through the connection to my native Poland that borders with the Ukraine, which at that time was a republic of the Soviet Union. Some clouds of Chernobyl arrived in Poland, causing a lot of fears and anxieties because the trust in the Soviets’ abilities to deal with that magnitude of crisis was next to zero in Poland. I responded with one of my op-ed columns titled “Hiroshima and Chernobyl”. In the meantime the dispute over the nearby Pilgrim nuclear plant became again intense.

Time passed, no accident occurred at Pilgrim, and people got used to living with this deadly plant or were resigned to its dangers. Recently, Travis Andersen (The Boston Globe online. March 14, 2011) surveyed Pilgrim’s neighbors about Japan’s nuclear crisis and found that some were fearful, while others shrugged it off. For instance: “Heather Cole, who has lived near the plant for 15 years, said she would not even leave in the event of an emergency, preferring instead to ‘grab a six pack’ and dig in her heels, in part because she feels the evacuation would be ‘a nightmare’.“

Cape Cod is a peninsula stapled with two bridges to the mainland where Ms Cole lives. The evacuation of the Cape’s residents would be even harder to imagine! That reminds me of a T-shirt design that addressed the issue of evacuation from the Cape in case of nuclear disaster. A drawing of the Cape was printed on the shirt with the question, “Evacuation plan?” The answer was, “JUST SWIM!” showing small silhouettes of people jumping into the water off the Cape.

Today, in view of Japan’s tragedy, it is time to be awakened again to the dangers of the very existence of nuclear power plants. So I was excited to see The New Yorker cover with the art work of Christoph Niemann titled “Dark Spring.” It was good to see that someone else imagines nuclear reactors as “living plants.” His cherry tree blossoms and my tulips are symbols of these powerful deadly plants.

The New Yorker Magazine cover fragment, March 28, 2011

According to Christian Parenti, a contributing editor to The Nation, “We get less than 9% of our total energy needs from nuclear power, so with proper conservation, we can make up some loss. Fukushima is trying to tell us something.”

Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker ends her comment on the nuclear risk, “We’ve more or less pretended that our nuclear plants are safe, and so far we got away with it. The Japanese have not.“

Jonathan Schell in his commentary in The Nation (April 4 issue) suggests that instead of abandoning nuclear power, “Let us pause and study the matter. For how long? Plutonium, a component of nuclear waste, has a half-life of 24,000 years, meaning that half of it is transformed into other elements through radioactive decay. This suggests a time scale. We will not be precipitous if we study the matter for only half of that half-life, 12,000 years. In the interval, we can make a search for safe energy sources, among other useful endeavors.”

I could not agree more with all three statements. It is highest time to replace nuclear power plants with alternative energy sources.

Wind Farm by Alicja Mann

Let us “plant” these graceful and harmless windmills. Let them bloom in our fields!

Let us have bright and happy springs in the future.

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Photos of nuclear power plants from New Yorker cover art “Dark Spring” – copyright © 2011 Christoph Niemann / The New Yorker. Text and other photos copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

When Summer Ends on Cape Cod…

September 23, 2010

For most people on the Cape this summer ended on Labor Day, but according to Mother Nature on this year’s calendar it ends on the 22nd of September. In the past, while living on the Cape full time, I had my very own way of detecting the end of summer. It was always one of the last days of August, different days in different years, but the feeling was the same and I recall it well.

That end of summer for me would come on a warm, sunny day when trees looked royal with the sun’s golden touch. It was the day when I could detect that the sun’s warmth was different than on the day before — I could sense it with my skin. That warmth was not as intense, but soft and not reassuring of its arrival the next day. The air was a bit hazy and one could hear the characteristic insects’ buzz announcing the season’s change. I knew that the very next morning crisp air would arrive — autumn’s messenger. So I would sit for a while on my favorite rock in the yard near the house, wrapped in that soft warmth, and watch things around me. I would imagine leaves falling from the trees, cold winds blowing into the walls of our home, and snow covering the driveway. And I would become sad counting how many months would have to go by before another summer would arrive again.

Well, I do not feel that kind of sadness anymore since I have ‘my’ Tucson. As much as I love Cape Cod and as much as I know how charming the autumn can be here, the end of summer is my time to go southwest. And now comes a different type of sadness, sadness of parting with friends, sadness of saying good bye to things I love. But every departure has also the joy of arrival and I am looking forward to that.

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The last days of summer are quite special on the Cape. The weather is fine, flowers are still blooming, and beaches are spacious again.

Sporadic spells of cold and rain — a good reminder to prepare the house for the coming fall and winter days.

For me, who does not like cold weather and never really was able to learn to like it, it is a reminder of getting ready for departure to Tucson, a place where summer almost never ends.

So it is time to walk out of this house which will welcome warmly new winter tenants soon. It is time to say good bye to the woods and the neighbors.

Time for a farewell lunch at our favorite restaurant in North Falmouth with its Reuben sandwiches and great quahogs that I will miss greatly. A last photo opportunity for me and my son whose time is also divided — between Boston and Cape Cod.

Two people in front of the sign for The Silver Lodge, North Falmouth, Massachusetts

Finally it is time to cross the Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal (which separates the Cape from the main land) and ‘plow’ across this vast country — going west this time.

Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal, Massachusetts

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

Lessons from the Beach – Part Two

September 6, 2010

This is the continuation of my blog entry Lessons from the Beach that I posted last week just before Hurricane Earl’s arrival on the Cape and Islands. Well, Earl landed here rather softly — more like a tropical storm than a hurricane. I am very glad in spite of all the preparations and spoiled plans. Who needs all that hurricane aftermath? However, some people were disappointed — they would like to have a level of danger and excitement, but with no damage costs. Well, that is not a simple wish. After all Mother Nature is not like a cook in a restaurant, “Would you like your steak/storm to be rare, medium, or well done?” In any case, the ocean is calm now and the beaches are full of people again, enjoying their last weekend of summer.

In this visit to the beach I focused on observing much younger kids than in Lesson #1.

I hope you will enjoy this post although it can’t possibly substitute for a real visit to the beach.

Beach Lesson #2 – About determination, helping, cooperation, challenge, excitement and joy. Also about independence and the pleasure of solitude.

Making ponds in beach sand and supplying them endlessly with ocean water was a challenging task for each child. Perhaps joining forces could bring success?

Girl pouring water onto the beach from a bucket Boy and poured water puddle on beach

Boy walking toward girl on beach Boy and girl working together on beach

Oh, those waves!

Girl and boy on beach watch wave coming toward them On boogie boards in the ocean
Girl and boy on beach running from a wave

Sometimes it is nice to be alone.

Girl walking on beach Girl on beach fills box with sand

Summer ends today on Labor Day — this is the end of beach lessons and time for school lessons for many children visiting Cape Cod. But the ocean and beach will welcome them again next summer.

It is up to all of us, however, to make sure that our beaches will be clean and free of oil spills for future generations of children to enjoy.

People in ocean with sun behind

Bird on beach

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

Lessons from the Beach – Part One

September 2, 2010

I stated in my last post of this blog, Trapped in a Vacation Place, that it takes some effort to practice vacationing in the place of so many memories, emotional investments, and commitments. There is no question about the beauty of Cape Cod and it would be foolish not to have some fun and relaxation in such a place. My friends’ comments (about that post) and good wishes convinced me. Many thanks! I did go several times to my favorite beach (and very popular one), Silver Beach in North Falmouth. It is only a mile from the house and liked for its good sand. I was also encouraged to post more pictures. So here are my photographic observations with a few words.

Beach Lesson #1 – About creativity, patience, satisfaction and optimism. Also about acceptance and ‘letting it go’.

This was a day of building sand castles, than destroying them or leaving them behind. The day was warm, clear and sunny. A lot of satisfaction was in the air.

This was a day of building holes — a competitive edge was there, but not that sharp. The walls had to be strong, especially on the ocean side. The holes had to be big enough for sitting in them.

But the wind and ocean waves will take away these sand creations, destroyed or left behind. That will only depend on the strength of the waves and passing time.

The ocean remains powerful and indifferent.

Speaking of ocean power — I have to go and get prepared for hurricane Earl’s arrival on the Cape! I will post the remaining lessons from the beach in a few days.

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

Trapped in a Vacation Place

August 23, 2010

Before I left Tucson for our summer trip to Cape Cod, I pledged to some of my friends that this time I would take a real vacation. And Cape Cod is a perfect place for that — isn’t it? A true vacation land with plenty of the opportunities for having fun: going to the beach, art festivals, or outdoor music performances; visiting art galleries, bicycling, or dining at the restaurants with an ocean view. President Obama seems to think so too! He and his family are vacationing over here lately — not on the Cape, but on the very near island Martha’s Vineyard that offers much more privacy than the Cape. The Vineyard is well known as the celebrities’ vacation spot and it is accessible by boat or by air only. This island is so close to the Cape that some people can even swim to it. Not me! I, as most people who do not own a boat or an airplane, can get there by ferry. However I will not attempt to go there this week — let the Obamas have their vacation.

For me coming to the Cape is not really a vacation adventure, but more like a homecoming.

Cape Cod is the place where I made a home for myself in this country. Falmouth, Woods Hole, North Falmouth, Mashpee, and Hyannis are especially dear to me. I rooted here after my emigration from Poland. Here both of my sons were born (in this blog, I will call them Taurus and Leo — according to their Zodiac signs), and this is the place where they grew up. Here I became a naturalized American, and here also I faced my big challenges of becoming a writer — first for the Cape Cod Times and later for the Cape Cod Life. Consequently, the Cape became a true home for me. My bonds with this area, I dare to say, are even stronger than the bonds with my native Poland.

Our house here has its own long and complicated story plus plenty of peculiarities. It is a very unique house — there is no house like that around. “Oh, really?” one might ask. Yes, really. It was designed and built mostly by the hands of two people, who were deeply in love. The house was a part of their great dream. But the lovers abandoned that dream of togetherness and went their separate ways. Their love died, but the house remained and stood strong.

With time passing, the house has grown and changed just as our life has changed. For me, especially during the hardship of single motherhood, that house became a good, protective friend. It became my Tara!

More years passed and another big change faced the house — Taurus, Leo and I flew far away from it, and each flew in a different direction.

I followed my “call of the Southwest” and settled in Tucson, Arizona. Since then, the house has changed its meaning for me, but not its importance. Today it is like a book, or rather like a living diary. Looking at almost anything in this house feels like opening a page of that diary. It is absorbing, and it is time consuming.

Driving by familiar places is similar. Oh, here is the Falmouth Hospital where Taurus and Leo were born, and here is the North Falmouth Elementary School where they made their first steps in formal education. Oh, and here is the Silver Beach where they built their sand castles, and here is the Megansett Beach to which in later years they bicycled with their friends — free and happy! And there are so many “oh, here!” places like the Falmouth High School where they became young adults. That goes on and on… I become wrapped in nostalgia and start to feel ancient.

“Hey,” I say to myself in an attempt to shake off this mood, “you are supposed to have fun — go to the beach!” I try to remind myself about that pledge of having a vacation here. But is it really possible? I look around and can almost hear that ‘person-house’ talking to me: “You should trim the bushes,” and “How about fixing that door?” And the house continues, “Alicja, the deck was not stained for almost two years!” and “When are you going to get rid of the poison ivy?” So I became anxious and even angry.

Why is this house so demanding? Actually, it always was, but this summer is even more demanding, because it needs extra care and attention. It does not want to give up its status of being HOME and to become a secondary house. It does not want to be rented for another winter season and serve some strangers. It fears those changes. It fears being sold. In a true reality I know that those fears are really mine.

What I am discovering this summer is that it is not so easy to become a vacationer in the place that I invested myself so strongly and have so many memories. I guess I have to practice vacationing! So today I am going to the beach.

Before I go however, I would like to thank those of you who subscribed to my blog, and those who wrote your supportive comments. Thanks to you, the Internet is not as dark and as impersonal a place for me as it was before. After all, is it not indifference that writers fear most? I do. So I am happy to have you there!

Many thanks again, and here are three photos for you from my North Falmouth.

Main door of our house

Main door of our house

Megansett Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

At the Megansett Beach

Sunset at the Megansett Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sunset at the Megansett Beach

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

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