Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Views along the Pamet: Truro's Tidal River and a Hopper Painting

For more than 10 years we soaked up the views of the Pamet River and its beautiful marshy shoulders every September until the house we rented was sold to people who planned to live there year round. We decamped to neighboring Wellfleet for a few years. Then I found a "new" house,  a little farther up the river.  So, happily, this September we were back watching the tide ebb and flow in the Pamet, which winds its way for about 4 miles between Cape Cod Bay to the west and Ballston Beach on the Atlantic to the east.  The section west of  Route 6 is the most picturesque and navigable, a kayak is perfect, but small motor and sail boats use it too, as long as it's about two hours on either side of high tide; otherwise, there's the risk of running aground on muddy flats, which appear at dead low.

Some views of high tide, then low.

Somewhere in between tides

There's a trail along the edge of the marsh.  

Follow the trail toward the Bay and you come to a slightly elevated path running along an old railroad bed.  You can walk this towards Pamet Harbor until it ends where an old trestle, now gone, used to take the trains across the river.  Just to the left of the Juniper you can barely make out the shadow of the path along the railroad bed; it runs more or less perpendicular to the river. That's Pamet Harbor to the right.  (photo below)

The house in the distance, to the left of the tree, can be seen close up below.  It belongs to a family that's been in Truro for several generations and ran a cold storage business in Truro.  These early freezer businesses were crucial to the fishing industry for processing and refrigerating the catch. Proximity to the railroad made for easy transportation of ice and seafood.  

Next door is a house owned by the same family, which Edward Hopper painted in 1936.  The painting is titled " The House with the Rain Barrel."  If you stood on the right side of the house and slightly behind it, you'd get a similar perspective as the one in the painting. (Just the side of the porch is visible in the painting.)   

The landscape is virtually treeless in the painting as it was, I think, by the early to mid 19th century. Trees had been felled for nearly three centuries by the 1930's for fuel, building of houses, ships, fences, you name it, and to make way for farming.   

 Hopper and his wife lived in Truro during the depression;  his house still stands near Fisher Beach.  

People talk about "Cape Light," the ethereal light that plays on the Cape Cod landscape. Photographer Joel Meyerowitz produced a famous series of Cape images in the 1970's with that title, which may have launched the term.   The Pamet at sunset is one of those times when the light and landscape seem especially attuned--the grasses glow and the water shimmers silver.  

This view is looking away from the Bay in the direction of Rte 6 to the east.

Looking west into the Bay.  The breakwater, the dark horizontal line at the top left,  marks one side of the gut, a channel leading out of Pamet Harbor.  The areas on either side of the channel are shallow enough that you can walk across at low tide to reach the Bay-side beach without getting  wet much above your knees.