Friday, June 27, 2008

Colors of the Rainbow

So, being late June, it was sort of past time for me to get my locks shorn. I sort of hated to do it, since the curl was coming out pretty nicely and I do enjoy the "I live on Cape Cod and as far as you know I just came from the beach." look. But I suppose it was getting a little unruly...and really, I wanted to make the trip to Provincetown before the tourism season "blossoms" all around us come Fourth of July.

Plus, I've been thinking of those long ago years when I attended pride celebrations and there really isn't much of that around here, so I was looking forward to a walk along Commercial Street afterwards, as I have always enjoyed the site of rainbow flags billowing on ocean breezes.

The weather turned out not to be too fabulous for photos, as I might've hoped for some of that classic late afternoon sunlight. But clouds loomed overhead and it was a hot and muggy day. I took some pleasure in feeling the temperature drop a bunch as I drove down the hill from Truro...ahhh.

After the haircut (thanks, Barry!) I headed down to Commercial Street for a bit of a stroll. The whole street is festooned with nautical flags, as this weekend the town celebrates the annual Portuguese Festival and the Blessing of the Fleet.

The street was definitely a-buzz with visitors to town, strolling and shopping. I wanted to visit Marine Specialties for a couple of new flags to add to those on the fence in the garden, so that was my goal, but I also just wanted to wander a little, do a little people watching, see old places, revisit a few memories...that sort of thing.

And of course, there's always plenty of wonderful flowers in tiny gardens and containers here and there.

Now, I don't usually blog on this sort of topic...the consensus is such things are more the bailiwick of our friend Tornwordo...but hey, I'll sneak it in amongst the flower pictures and see if you notice.

After leaving the salon, I realized that there was a certain call of nature that needed to be answered. Anyone who's been a tourist in Provincetown knows that there's a limited supply of public restrooms, unless you duck into a bar, have a cocktail and use their loo, but that sort of works counter to solving the whole primary issue. So, I planned a route that would take me to the facilities at Town Hall before anywhere else.

So I'm walking along Commercial and this guys stops me and asks if I'd mind answering a few questions for a survey. Feeling agreeable (and the other not being quite a pressing need yet), I answered his questions. It's for a study for UMass Medical regarding recreational drug use and HIV transmission, as it turns out...and after the first few questions, the guy told me he'd give me $20 if I provided an anonymous urine sample and answered a more detailed questionnaire.

So I agreed. He seemed a little surprised, but then I pointed out what a long walk it was going to be to Town Hall.

Of course, now (hours later) I'm having all kinds of fun with this...calling out from the bathroom, "I'm just pissing away money here!"...or using it to bargain: "Eef you tell me where you have hidden zee dog's leash, I will give to you a cup of my urine."

Heh...obviously, I crack me up.

Anyway...I resumed my walk through town, now relieved and free to take in the sights at a leisurely pace.

I enjoyed this store window display especially. Who doesn't love a fleet of rubber duckies? These guys look like they are ready for all weathers, which is just right for this end of the Cape.

There are plenty of fancy plants and special varieties, but sometimes, you just can't go wrong with that classic combo of marigolds, geraniums and dusty miller.

While the temperature in Provincetown was cooler than it had been further up-Cape, after a while, I realized that it wasn't any less humid and with the clouds pressing down overhead, I felt a little oppressed.

I also wasn't finding any rainbow flags to photograph, which surprised me. There were a few of the PEACE rainbow flags...and I kind of like that design(who doesn't like Peace?!), but I also think the white letters sort of dilute the rich colors of the original...and that's what I was looking for.

Plus, I have to say I was just a little annoyed at how many flags were completely tangled around their flagpoles. If you display a flag of any kind, you really ought to take the time to make sure it's flying free for passing photographers, 'cause it's all about us. Plus, it just looks better. That's what I think, anyway.

The tide was coming in during my stroll and every alley or driveway or street between buildings brought that wonderful pungent smell of the harbor, salty and rich.

One of the things I loved best about living and visiting there was the way the ocean was right there in town. The smells teased your nose, the sounds of storm surf or a foghorn lulling you off to sleep at night, ships' horns in the harbor waking you in the morning.

There's also secret nooks and gardens and patios hidden all over town, their margins just packed with beautiful plants, creating little oasises everywhere.

I remember being impressed to learn that ships used to use soil from different ports as ballast and would offload it as heavy cargo loads dictated. Thus, the dirt in the tiny yards and gardens of Provincetown had come from many different places far away.

I'm not familiar with this yellow flower, but just loved the puffy quality of the flowerheads. Can anyone tell me what it is? I'd love an introduction.

Of course I recognize this clematis, which was tangled on a fence across the street from where my apartment was. That building is just one of many which has been completely renovated over the years. It's kind of amazing how things change. What was a restaurant one year is a gallery another year, and former galleries become bars, or gift shops. Many houses seem to be completely renovated each time the property changes hands.

I was amused when I first washed ashore at that thing where people refer to a place by what it used to be called, which is, of course, no help at all when directing someone newly arrived. I guess people do that everywhere, but here on the Cape things change so quickly that I hear myself doing it all the time now, and can only grin.

I did get the flags I was looking for at Marine Specialties and you'll see them added to the fence in the garden in the next day or so. But I had just about resigned myself to not seeing any true rainbow flags in a town that used to sparkle and flap with them...when I spotted this one as I made my way back to the car.

Mission accomplished.


tornwordo said...

Wow, twenty bucks for a vial of pee. Where do I sign up?

Birdie said...

What a lovely seaside stroll. I grew up in Sarasota, and the shops near the ocean change almost annually. When I visit now, I wonder what I'll find on the Circle. I love the little nooks; they're disappearing for tall condos and I mourn. But the ocean remains, with the salt spray and sunset. That's why I go there.

somewhere joe said...

The best rainbows come at the end of something... a storm, a walk, a quest.

Greg said...

Torn, imagine if you will a world where it's currency! This may be a new all-time low for the American dollar.

Birdie, sad to say there is much condo-fication going on in Provincetown and its changed the face of the visitors, too. But fortunately, the exteriors of many buildings remain the same and there's *always* the sea.

Joe, I couldn't have put it better myself, as always!

Marc said...

What are the lovely little red and white flowers? They are beautiful! Like the yellow puffy things, too.

I think I recognize the place where you finally found the flag...I believe my friend Jeff and I stayed across the street from there in a B&B on a cold, cold February night.

We dined in town at a storefront restaurant where we struck up a conversation with a local lesbian couple who were hysterical. The food was terrific (we had sea scallops) and the couple was torturing our poor waiter, who obviously knew them and was taking it all in great stride, and giving it back on occasion.

We had been told it rarely snows on the cape, but we were concerned that the forecast storm that night would ruin our sightseeing the next day. The lesbians told us not to worry, it would be fine, they doubted it would really be the heavy, bad snow...and they gathered up to leave.

We paid our bill and, as we exiting the front of the restaurant, they pulled up in their car and rolled down the window for a little more chat. We all enjoyed a thunderous laugh as, right at that moment, the sky lit up, there was a crack of thunder and the sky burst forth with a blizzard that made the buildings across the street almost invisible...giant, wet, heavy flakes that would not be melting easily. It snowed all that night and half of the next day. I'll never forget that night or that trip.

Greg said...

Marc, the guest house that had the rainbow flag is across the street from the Boatslip (one of the few places that hasn't changed yet...).

What a great story! It's true, it doesn't snow too often here, and most of that time doesn't amount to much...but every now and then we get something a little more serious when conditions are just right. Sounds like you got "lucky".

The red and white flowers are a variety of fuschia, that darling of hanging baskets. I bought a little one myself this weekend, so you'll be seeing more of it...though I hope mine has purple in the mix. (It's not in bloom yet...)

Anonymous said...

I always love seeing the rainbow flags when I visit Boystown in Chicago. It seems as if there is this automatic recognition of who I am and where I will be accepted by others.