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Love at Newcomb Hollow

Will you spend the night with me?

About 45 years ago a young woman in Wellfleet asked me this (I was younger too !), and in some confusion about what she wanted or what I wanted I declined.

I think that was a mistake.

Yesterday I spent a few hours at Newcomb Hollow beach in Wellfleet watching lovers of all kinds come and go to the beach.  Little dramas of affection and closeness..... and distance.... played themselves out before me.  They connected me with my past and a chance foregone, and with my present, and the chance that I am taking.

Newcomb Hollow is a major landmark not just for my love but my art.  In 1968, a year before the invitation I didn't accept, I tried to channel Thoreau and walked the outer beach from Orleans to Provincetown, taking pictures along the way.  The image of Newcomb Hollow is the one that has lasted, and holds for me my first understanding of the ineffable beauty of the ocean shore of the outer Cape.

Yesterday, a little before 8, families, friends, pooches, and sunbathers were treading down the path cut sideways into the cliff and spreading themselves on the beach, vast and rolling at low tide.  A pair of grandparents, their terriers, their daughter, and her daughter meandered along the shoreline, more engaged in each other than the ocean.  Surfers were already paddling in the glassy water seeking something more than a ripple.  A comrade perched high on the cliff watched them, and the water, just in case they looked too much like seals to an unwanted predator.

A young woman carried her beach chair down and occupied a spot where the streams of the falling tide made her sand an enchanted island.  A muscular bicyclist took a break from his ride, and explored the beach with his iPhone.

Soon the cyclist had discovered the girl on the enchanted isle, and for the next 30 minutes he could not keep his iPhone off her.  I became curious.... would they connect ?

Mr. Cyclist seemed to discover that the most advantageous view of Newcomb Hollow beach was any perspective within a thirty yard radius of this woman, and that it might just show his strength to advantage if he went into the deepest possible squat when he clicked.  She seemed to respond to his presence.... she stretched her legs, she crossed them, her knee went high in the air.  She moved her chair to another angle, and immediately Mr. Cyclist could not get enough of those surfers who were directly in the line of her new view.

I cheered them on silently.  How was he going to get across those last few yards of sand?  He had no lens cap to lose, no water bottle to roll, no beach ball to catch.

He didn't.

After thirty minutes of this dance of display and enticement, Mr. Cyclist had had enough of the beach, his lack of imagination, or maybe just my fantasy, and he trudged up to the parking lot.  He took a remarkably long time to get his shoes and helmet back on, I was sure he was lingering, and suddenly I too was engaged.  I looked at him.  Should I say, "go for it man", she's interested, I have the pictures to prove it".  Maybe I blew it again too, for I said nothing to him, and let him cycle off to his further explorations.

Soon, my attention was drawn by a different couple, of an earlier generation.  He with cane and black hat, she with bright pink.  They were on the edge of the surf, and they moved together.  Sometimes next to each other step for step, and sometimes one off to explore some pool, but soon returning to his mate.  Their gestures of connection were so transparent that I could just about hear their words from 200 yards away.  "Let's go this way, okay, no.... it looks brighter down here, okay, down here then, but then let's try the north side of the beach"

I thought that he with his cane would tire first, but no, after a half hour, he was still going, and it was she who came up to the parking lot for a rest, while he chugged off in the direction of Provincetown.  More Thoreau??

I did talk to her as she passed my bench, told her I had been watching, taking pictures, got permission to use them, shared my thoughts about the earlier couple.  Betty and I chatted for a while until Dick returned, she stood and waved so he would see her, we shook hands, they chatted with another couple, dove into some conversations about science and then drove off.

85 and still going strong………...I’ll take what they’re having.


from the Age of Prometheus to the Age of Apollo

Here's the basic idea of how we can mitigate the future dangers from fossil fuel burning climate change and move the planet to an energy future that will sustain growth and development for humanity.  The core idea is simple (the only idea I can deal with).  We need to move from use of ancient photons to current photons.

When we burn oil, coal, natural gas, we are releasing energy that plants captured from the sun (photos) millions of years ago and stored in chemical bonds, carbon - hydrogen.

By releasing to the atmosphere in a few hundred years, carbon that was removed from the atmosphere over hundreds of millions of years, we are rapidly increasing its heat-trapping ability.

The planet will cook. It might work out ok for the alligators, but the six billion human beings on the planet will be in big trouble.

We need to slow/stop digging up that carbon, holding the energy of ancient photons, and move to capturing the energy of the photons streaming in from the sun right now.

The most obvious way to do that is by photovoltaic conversion of photons, aka solar power. (Actually pv is just one form of solar power, more on that later)

Wind is a less direct way, but it is also a way to capture the energy of current photons, because weather patterns are the atmosphere's reaction to energy streaming from the sun. Harnessing the power of waves is the same idea, although we can thank the moon for a contribution there.

It is easy to use my perspective of "current photons" to evaluate biofuels. Relative to fossil fuels we could call them "current", because their carbon hydrogen bonds have been formed almost currently, over a few recent years. Still its a pretty elaborate and inefficient process to form those bonds, and all the land use, water use, fertilizer pollution issues that go with agriculture should probably be left to supplying food when there are better and more current sources of current photons.

The human race harnessed fire hundreds of thousands of years ago, and has used it to come along way, including producing a population of seven billion (and counting) people who would like to drive around in cars. I guarantee that if they all drive around in gas guzzling suvs getting 20 miles to the gallon, the human race will cook and the alligators will take over. (Ok, there's a little hyperbole here, but not so much)

Western culture has thanked Prometheus for bringing it fire. Its time to let him rest, and start dealing directly with Apollo.

Image and text Copyright, 2013, Robert Manz, all rights reserved, feel free to share, with attribution.