Thoreau's Cape Cod

 Beginning in 1849, Henry David Thoreau made four walking tours of Cape Cod. Along the way he recorded his observations on the natural world as well as on the nature of the people he met. His resulting book has generally been considered his sunniest and lightest, filled with jokes, puns, and tall tales. Now photographer Dan Tobyne captures the essence of the Cape Cod Thoreau discovered. The combination of short excerpts and stunning imagery carries Thoreau’s work to a new level, presenting it in both glowing words and pictures.

Beginning in 1849, Henry David Thoreau made four walking tours of Cape Cod. Along the way he recorded his observations on the natural world as well as on the nature of the people he met. His resulting book has generally been considered his sunniest and lightest, filled with jokes, puns, and tall tales. Now photographer Dan Tobyne captures the essence of the Cape Cod Thoreau discovered. The combination of short excerpts and stunning imagery carries Thoreau’s work to a new level, presenting it in both glowing words and pictures.

We're coming out with a new book as we revisit Thoreau's Cape Cod. Publication date is June 2018. Hardcover: $24.95.

For those fond of complaining that the Cape has been transformed into one long overcrowded strip mall, with too much traffic and too many souvenir shops, I urge you to find the other Cape; the real Cape.  It’s still there waiting to be visited and explored at a level of consciousness far removed from the dulled realizations of the herd. If you dare to pull away the self-imposed curtain drawn across your mind’s eye, you must throw yourself headlong onto the beach, but not just any beach. Go to the place Thoreau called “The Great Beach” where the mighty Atlantic meets the coastal plain. Move past the rope lines and dare to walk the shore as far as it will take you, realizing life is about the vista you choose, and attitudes and impressions are what you make them; sometimes grand, but more often narrowing and without real perspective; cultivated by a hardened relationship most have spent many years fertilizing. Go to the place where you can visit the great white shark, the sea lion, and the whale, test your legs not against the brake pedal but against the shifting sand and pounding surf.

 If you choose to go to this transitional place between land and sea, you might find or at least begin to see, that reality is a mask we’ve placed upon ourselves, and although it feels concrete and permanent, it’s pliable; a moving target if you will, that’s alterable if one dares to be enlightened by a new perspective, or perchance an old one that through “maturity” was allowed to dim from view.

The beach can be the arena for your reawakening. Yes, it changes every day, but even though it’s in constant dynamic motion, in an elemental way it’s as much the same as it is different.

It is a wild place, and a loud place as waves constantly pound the shore echoing back off the dunescape. It is as serine as it is dangerous, seemingly voiceless yet filled with chatter, it will pluck at your strings if you dare to engage. Don’t be as Thoreau talked about; “a faint-hearted crusader” who now-a-days takes on no persevering never ending enterprises; whose expeditions are but tours that come round again at evening to the old hearthside.

You see the Cape now as traffic and shops because that’s all you’ve allow yourself to see. The shore, this shore, will clear the self-imposed blindness that blocks your vision. It will bring you to a threshold between; safety and peril, life and death, the intense and the sublime, and although it brings you close to danger it will also move you away from simply existing. It will push you toward the long-forgotten exuberance of living and force you to become an active participant in your own play. No longer a critic on the sidelines, you will be squarely downstage right for the first time in a long, long, time.

Walking the beach will be an awakening if you choose to hitch up and move along its eternal shore, and if fortune prevails—and we all make our own—you will learn something about yourself that most have forgotten. You will learn you weren’t born to merely exist.

You will become childlike and remember how it feels to be truly alive as it should be, and every day will be a new day with new things to experience and explore. Don’t be most of us; strive to never be most of us, because that would be a tragedy. As Thoreau discussed in his novella about walking;

  “Most of us live as unconscious of the animated world about us as we are of the cloud of unseen witnesses by which we are said to be surrounded. We turn a deaf ear to all but the most obvious songs; our eyes gaze into the haunts of the birds and we see only sparrows and robins. We go our way and let our humble brothers go theirs. What we know of "animated Nature" we take on faith.”

So go to the beach and begin your journey by shedding your self-imposed blinders, learn a different way of seeing and don’t ever look back.

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Down East Books (June 15, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608939553
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608939558