The edge of Clapps Pond, 29 September 2022

It’s no secret I don’t like to travel. I haven’t been on a plane since 1998, and honestly have no inclination to break my winning streak. I prefer the intimacy of walking in places I’ve lived. For a long time that was Providence, then Provincetown and, more recently, other towns on the Outer Cape. My conceit is that I think I know Provincetown well. In truth, we can never know a place fully. It will always unfold with new revelation. There’s always more to discover, more to witness.

Talking with a friend recently I told him about my disinterest in travel, and claimed to be a homebody. He questioned my point because he sees me around town so much. I qualified by saying, ‘I guess a better way to put it is that I’m hyper local.’ Confronted by a snooty Bostonian who’d asked him if he’d traveled in Europe, Henry Thoreau made a famous retort, I have traveled a great deal in Concord.’

I first heard that story in high school, and it helped me understand that travel is a matter of perspective. While I’ve had transformational experiences when I’ve traveled a great distance from home — and understand the value of such travel — I also find my perspective disoriented when I’m open to stumbling off my everyday pathways. I prefer how such disorientation accrues around me and helps me grow in place.

The view walking past Clapps Pond from the fire road off RT 6, 29 September 2022.

For years I’ve been walking past Clapps Pond. A week ago, walking with my friend Karen, wrapped up in conversation, I took a wrong turn on a familiar trail and finally walked around the pond. It’s part of a larger ecosystem / watershed — often spoken of in concert with its neighbor Duck Pond — that also includes Shank Painter Pond. A three-mile loop, the pond and its trail system constitute a large area — which given my haste to regularly hike past I’ve largely neglected (and even blanked out in my imagination). Obviously, this is a huge oversight and mistake.

Like so many places nearby, Mary Oliver wrote a poem about Clapps Pond.

There’s more I need to research and learn about this area, but this post is more about noting my methods of exploration (real and aspirational) than about the place. In addition to my conceit of knowing this place well, I also too glibly identify with the idea of being a psychogeographer — neglecting how much time and intention psychogeography actually requires. This ‘discovery’ is an object lesson to listen better to my own best intentions and to give the time an attention that discovery deserves — because such time and attention, and the discoveries they bring about, are really an investment in my growth and development as a person.

The edge of Clapps Pond, 29 September 2022

Field Guide: Walking & Painting on Cape Cod 
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2 thoughts on “perspective

  1. I look forward to your story’s and learning more about the outer cape, the way you dig in and break down the areas you write about!


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