Blue Horizon

There are places here and there that are noted by painters and photographers for the special quality of their light. Southern France is one; van Gogh made some of his most beautiful paintings in and around Arles. St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!) is another, and so, as it happens, is the far end of Cape Cod.

I have often wondered what accounts for this; after all, it’s the same Sun shining down all over. Is it something in the air? The local albedo? The colors of the soil and flora? I don’t know the answer, but I have to admit the light in the outer Cape really is strikingly beautiful sometimes.

One of my favorite spots for enjoying the ethereal Cape light is a place called Duck Harbor, which is at the end of a sandy path, due west of the end of Griffin Island Road, about five minutes from where we live (here’s a map). The Duck Harbor beach looks west out over Cape Cod Bay, and is a popular spot for watching the sun set over the water (you can also watch the sun rise, a few hours later, at the Atlantic beaches a couple of miles east). To the north the Cape curls inward, forming Provincetown’s sheltered anchorage, and the Pilgrim Monument is a dark needle in the distance.

Sunset is often a calm and quiet time; as the land cools the afternoon breezes die down, and at Duck Harbor the water at sunset can be quite still. As the sky darkens the sea reflects the deepening blue, and the sinking sun highlights the rippled surface in gleaming gold. Sometimes sea and sky seem to merge in a dreamlike azure mist.

I stopped by on Monday evening as the sun was going down behind a low cloudbank, and took a few amateurish snapshots. They don’t do it justice, of course, but here they are anyway. You can click on the images to see the high-resolution versions.

Duck Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, Monday, May 29, 2006

 

Duck Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, Monday, May 29, 2006 - looking north toward Provincetown

 

Duck Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, Monday, May 29, 2006

 

Duck Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, Monday, May 29, 2006

 

Duck Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, Monday, May 29, 2006

 

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