Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Log

The Log
In the pantheon of US holidays, fourth of July was always my favorite. It was special because I spent twenty five summers in Provincetown at the very tip of Cape Cod. The holiday required no gifts, no family dynamics, no emotional drama. It was so simple. You watched a parade, went to the beach, had a BBQ with friends, then enjoyed the fireworks in the evening. It was a holiday that represented summer, sun, and fond friendships that for me lasted over thirty years.

The Log was an old wooden beam about twelve feet long that washed up in Provincetown bay. It landed on the beach in front of the Crown & Anchor hotel where it remained for years. It was well-known as a landmark. To our group, The Log represented stability, continuity, and our personally marked territory on July 4th. Because everyone on Cape Cod wanted to come to Provincetown to see the fireworks, The Log was deemed our gathering place on July 4th.

To secure it, we had to claim The Log and that section of beach by 7 a.m. the morning of the holiday. We took umbrellas, beach chairs, blankets and all the paraphernalia we would need during the celebration to mark this blackened beam as ours. One person was chosen to remain and hold The Log until we all arrived with coolers later in the day. It wasn't hard duty because the Crown & Anchor played patriotic music all day long. And the people watching was superb.

Now, thirty years later, things have changed. The country still celebrates July 4th with parades, gatherings and fireworks. Those long ago summer days are sweet but distant memories. Those pals from the Cape got older. Most of us moved away. Like so many quaint places in Provincetown, the "old Crown & Anchor" is now an upscale hotel, too grand to host non-guests on its beach by the bay. You might wonder what happened to The Log? It was dredged up and unceremoniously hauled away when the Crown & Anchor was remodeled.

Every July 4th holiday I think of those friends. I can still smell the beach and the gunpowder from the fireworks. And I always hear Kate Smith belting out God Save America from "The Crown's" speakers. Her voice and that song say July 4th for me. But The Log is the grandest memory of all. For it was our touchstone no matter what was happening in the world.

You see, The Log was our metaphor in time and space. Those summer days on The Log sheltered us when AIDS was rampant and the world's financial markets were in disarray. The Log gatherings allowed us to laugh, remember, forget, sing oldies, and eat lobsters. The Log was where we said goodbye to friends lost to AIDS and where we welcomed new ones into our midst. Each summer when we returned to the Cape The Log was still there on the beach, promising us that all was well in our little world.

The Log is long gone but the message it left behind is easy to recall. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. Spiritual teachings say that everything is in a state of becoming, living, then dying and becoming again. The Log's message is, everything is in transition. It reminds that rituals are necessary in the human experience and celebrations a tonic.  Thirty years later I still love Kate Smith and fireworks and still hold those friends close. But, as things change so did my new favorite holiday which is Thanksgiving. I also know that one day, this too shall pass! That's the real message of The Log. 

                                                                                                  Jo Mooy - July 2017