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Closed For the Season

Growing up on Cape Cod it was an altogether familiar sight to see signs on storefront windows after Labor Day that read, “Thanks for a great season!” and “See you next summer!” In the fall, summer homes, especially the ones along the shoreline, board up their windows. Trees shed their leaves, exposing bare branches, as tourists head back over the bridge, leaving Cape Codders alone at last to prepare for a long winter.

As a teenager, these changes didn’t bother me. Truth is I’m not sure I even noticed. Wrapped up in school and sports and friends, I was too busy to admire the pink and orange sunsets dissolving into the ocean. However, after college, living at home for a short time before embarking into the “real world,” all I did was notice. It was a strange and auspicious period, stuck between childhood and adulthood, and those days, accentuated by the bareness of a cold, dark, endless winter, were like one long Sunday. For someone so programmed to be “doing,” it was hard to be still.

Now years later, I return to the Cape every chance I get. Sure summer is great, but I have come to appreciate its end. Have come to love autumn and the colors and the smell of the air. But so too, does winter, with it’s harsh winds, have a soft spot in my heart. There is nothing like a walk along the beach, bundled up in so many layers only your eyes are showing. And though evening arrives too soon, the days are brighter thanks to the reflection off the water.

Now when I am on Cape Cod and pass those closed up ice cream shops and mini golf ranges, I understand the silence within, as though after working hard all summer they deserve this time off. Sure there are storeowners who work as hard in the off-season, repainting and preparing for next summer, for it’s a cycle, like the seasons themselves, but after all these years I’ve come to appreciate the off-season as it offers a kind of respite and permission to slow down. It doesn’t mean you stop tackling projects (winter is a great opportunity for indoor tasks), but the tempo need not be as rushed. I admit it’s a pace I am still learning to follow, but one I have come to respect.

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