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My Next 30 Days in Marblehead

A Marblehead newcomer wrote this wonderful reflection on his second 30 days in town.

The following was written by Stoddard Vandersteel, who moved to Marblehead two months ago from California:

Another month has passed (Click Here for my reflection on the first 30 days), taking me to 60 days now in Marblehead, and still impressions are flooding in.

My notes here are driven by contrasts, and say as much about my last bayside home in San Francisco (Tiburon) as it does Marblehead, so you may take away a sense of northern California as well as things you, local inhabitants, experience here every day, but which for me are the contrasts of transition.

It all began by getting here – we drove.  In California, driving is competitive, in Boston, combative, but here -  it is collaborative.  Drivers actually stop if I am anywhere near a crosswalk.  Even when no crosswalk, I will shy away to let them pass, but no! They will still yield despite my best efforts to let them on their merry way. This genteel nature is reinforced, noting that many stop signs read: “STOP Please”. Please? Never saw that before. Or this one: “Slow – Whale Crossing”

From my perch overlooking the harbor, as the day yields to dusk, the five cannons of yacht clubs ignite, and seagulls burst into flight. What do they make of all of this, and even though it happens every night, they jump to the sky in fright.

Sensing the close of summer, (early October, on a day when in Bay Area it was approaching 95) I realize there is a tempo here, which all of you know so well, but which highlights a passage I need to brace for. Used to running every month of the year in shorts, the chill of the early morn hints this may be a dashed hope. So what will I do instead?

Now anchored in a sailing haven, with choice out of my hands, I recall an ancient navigational system from Polynesia. They believed in their outriggers to be fixed in place, with the world passing them by, as I am affixed in Marblehead, with the seasons about to pass me by. Somehow I sense I will not be running in shorts in January.

On another course, one of humankind, the sea of cultures is more singular here. The Bay Area, opposite the Asian coast, is afloat with Oriental faces, a culinary explosion, a linguistic jungle, a quilt of culture, expression of lifestyles, a dizzying elixir of humanity not to be seen here.  On the other hand, the collection of Colonial homes, the irreverent labyrinth of streets, the fortitude of tradition, brings me back to the comfort of a “I am home” harmony.

Being quite partial to views, we cannot fail to note, that regardless of where we are, half the view is of the sky. And here we have a difference, as in California, say summer, the sky is blue, and only blue. For except early morning fog, the skies present a simple desert of cerulean luminosity. To many, this justifies exorbitant real estate prices (twice that of Marblehead), but upon arrival here, I realize the shortsightedness. Being a photographer in love with sky, in California, I snap a luxuriant sunset every month or so. But here, it seems, every morning a flourishing sunrise jolts me from sleep, or, every evening, the raking sunsets cast brilliance on harbor craft. I am running out of film fast!

To be clear, with no summer clouds in California, you do not have this: summer rain.

Here, the soft sound of summer rain - rhythmic on the redolent leaves of maples, drops piercing puddles, prancing on pond tops, glistening my ears with soft velvet of sound, dithering my ear drums, like a sonata of memories from time past when I first heard these sounds as a boy, on some spring morn when I awoke to the sounds of nature.

I have come home.

Bo October 08, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I think in your next 30 days you may discover that many drivers do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, thus the need for the police to conduct periodic crackdowns branded as "Operation Crosswalk." Watch out for moms in SUVs on cell phones. They don't stop. They don't notice you. Marblehead is a great walking town, but is not pedetrian friendly.
Ann Vandersteel October 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM
I am really looking forward to coming back up for a visit! And perhaps even a run in the chilly weather...imagine that, a Floridian braving the elements in January...:-)
Amy Hertz February 01, 2013 at 02:11 AM
So nice to hear positive comments about our beautiful town. Welcome!

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