I go to the sea for solace and usually return home having shifted my mood from dull to peaceful, my heart somehow beating to the rhythm of the waves instead of the heavy thump of this crazy onshore world.Today while visiting Provincetown, a quaint village at the tip of Cape Cod, I was drawn to a photographic exhibit, titled They Face The Sea, honoring fishermen’s wives who have held this spirited culture alive. Mostly I was impressed by where they chose to install these portraits. They are affixed to the side of a weathered shack which sits far out on a pier, easily claimed by the elements that inhabit the edge of the ocean. I imagine the artists choice of location further symbolized the hardships that accompany a seafaring life.As I stood bundled up with a wet wind glazing my face it occurred to me that facing the sea is not unlike facing life. You never know what you’ll sea/see but the possibilities are endless. No one could know this better that a fisherman’s wife. These resilient women not only face the sea but work with the sea, shucking scallops, mending nets, setting traps, remaining positive as their husbands set sail, all the while keeping the spirit and rituals of their Portuguese community alive.Although I sense that this culture like many others is becoming ancient history, I’m finding that what people are yearning for during this pandemic is memory—a sense of place and people, a belonging to one another. The noted sociologist Ashley Montague suggested that women are the carriers of culture. If that is so, we best get going.
I am so pleased to see you writing again! You have been an inspiration to me for many years! I have read and reread your books over and over and hope to meet you some day. I’ve been to Scotland twice but never to Iona. Cape Cod has been on my bucket list since I was a little girl, listening to Pati Page singing Cape Cod Bay. Thank you so much for sharing your writing with us once again. You are right…people are yearning for memory…this pandemic has made us all stop and think.