Friday, November 29, 2013

October on Cape Cod ~ One Gorgeous Magical Day!

We are tied to the ocean. 
And when we go back to the sea,
whether it is to sail or to watch - 
We are going back from whence we came 
~John F. Kennedy

Cape Cod, Massachusetts
October 20, 2013

It was a Sunday, and it was pure magic … 
the glorious weather made it all the more amazing. 

Seagull Beach, Massachusetts

I'd never been to Cape Cod, or to "the Cape" as Dawn calls it. It's always sounded amazing, from everything I'd heard. I grew up at the beach, but in Southern California. It's difficult to explain, but Cape Cod has a unique energy, and spirit, all it's own.

There was a cool breeze, but on that October day the sand was warm enough to walk in our bare feet. It felt wonderful.

excerpts  from 
Song of the Wave
by Kahlil Gibran

The strong shore is my beloved
And I am his sweetheart
We at last united by love and
Then the moon draws me from him.
I go to him in haste and depart
Reluctantly, with many 
Little farewells.

I steal swiftly from behind the blue horizon to cast the silver of 
My foam upon the gold of his sand, and
We blend in melted brilliance.

I quench his thirst and submerge his Heart; 
He softens my voice and subdues my temper.

At dawn I recite the rules of love upon
His ears, an he embraces me longingly.

Dawn wanted me to see and experience this place, as much as I wanted to see it. She grew up coming out here, and it is a place that holds wonderful memories, as well as an intense emotional connection. I'm so glad I was able to experience it with her. It was perfect.

… As the tide comes we caress each other,
When it withdraws, I drop to his feet in Prayer.

Many times have I danced around mermaids
As they rose from the depths and rested
Upon my crest to watch the stars;
Many times have I heard lovers complain of their 
Of their smallness, and I helped them to sigh.

Many times have I teased the great rocks
And fondled them with a smile, but never
Have I received laughter from them;

Many times have I lifted drowning souls
And carried them tenderly to my beloved Shore. 
He gives them strength as he
Takes mine.

Many times have I stolen gems from the 
Depths and presented them to my beloved Shore.
He takes in silence, but still 
I give for he welcomes me ever.

In the heaviness of night, when all
Creatures seek the ghost of Slumber,
I sit up, singing at one time an sighing
At another. 
I am awake always.
~from Song of the Wave by Kahlil Gibran

Provincetown, Massachusetts
On the Cape

We drove out, about as far as you could go, on the Cape, to Provincetown. It's … darling and charming and unique, with just a teensy bit roughness, from the weather, being right on the Atlantic Ocean. The docks and rusted fishing boats ... I don't know how to explain it, so I will leave it up to the photos.

To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim-the rocks-the motion of the waves-the ships,
with me in them,
What stranger miracles are here?
~Walt Whitman

In one drop of water 
are found all the secrets
of all the oceans.
~Kahlil Gibran

Love the architecture in Provincetown! There are a lot of little shops, restaurants, bookstores and galleries. 

I even found a little silver charm, for my charm bracelet. It was between a little lobster and graceful starfish, but since I hadn't seen a star fish while in Massachusetts, and planned on finding myself some lobster … the lobster won out. ;)

We found this adorable place in Provincetown, called The Canteen, and had our dinner … so yummy! 

Dawn had the best fish and chips I've ever tasted (super crispy and not at all greasy) and I had the lobster roll. Every bite was an amazing taste of light buttery lobster goodness! I chewed the last bite as long as I could, just to savor and make it last. I must say, I will be dreaming of that lobster roll!

My East Coast trip could not have been better and I left feeling incredibly grateful … for my friends, my nieces, my travels and all the beautiful places and things I was able to experience.

Thanks Dawn for being so amazing, making me laugh harder than anyone, and putting a million miles on your car, driving me around New England! Grazie mille!!!! You rock, sister!

Hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving, 
and that you all have a beautiful weekend! 

Blessings and light!

After a visit to the beach, 
it's hard to believe that we live in a material world.
~Pam Shaw

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Witch Trials and Ancestry ~ Autumn in Danvers and Salem Massachusetts

We all grow up with the weight of history on us.
Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains
as they do in the spiraling chains
of knowledge 
hidden in every cell of our bodies.
~Shirley Abbott

Rebecca Nurse Homestead
Danvers, Massachusetts

My sister got into digging up our ancestry, a few years ago. It got pretty interesting on a several family lines. A lot of my ancestors came here, off the boat, several hundred years ago, including three different family lines that came over on the Mayflower. 

One of the most interesting family members, was Rebecca Nurse, (Her maiden name Rebecca Blessing Towne) was born in England in 1621, and then came to Massachusetts, one of the British Colonies. 

She is my 10th Great Grandmother.

Her home is a museum now, because Rebecca, a grandmother and mother of 8, was wrongly accused and convicted of witchcraft, during the Salem witch trials. 

Hundreds who were accused, were saved and released from prison, because the court started to require actual physical evidence, of all this consorting with the devil. But, after declaring no one could be convicted without it, that was basically the end of the witch trials.

But, it was too late for Rebecca and 23 (or more) others. 19 were hung, one was pressed to death while not confessing, nor denying it, and conflicting numbers of others died in while in prison.

Rebecca's name was cleared later on, but only after she was hung, in 1692. Ten years after her death, her accuser publicly apologized. 

This was her home at the time, with her husband, and my 10th great grandfather, Francis Nurse. Francis also came to colonies, from England. Eventually, he was able to work his way up from indentured servant and tray maker, into being a landowner. (Which would have been impossible with the class system, back in England.) 

The house is in Danvers, not far from Salem. The funny thing is, that I had been to this area back in the late 1990s, but had no idea of my family connection and had only visited the town of Salem, not Danvers, or this house. 

In the winter, they would bring livestock inside, to keep them warm and alive, as well as warming up the house.

My friend Dawn and I were running late, getting to Danvers, and found out that they would be closing at 3:00! I was so bummed because, at best, we would arrive at 2:30. 

Well, the people at the homestead couldn't have been nicer, when we got there. The last tour had already started, but the guide said she would take us back through the house after she was finished with the group tour … so it was like having a private tour of the house!

And yes, I told our guide that Rebecca was my 10th great grandma. There are actually a lot of ancestors that visit, and apparently, some branches of the family even have large reunions. Wouldn't that be kind of a kick?

This area we've been looking at, is the 1st room you walk into.

The candle, below, is a courting candle. You give your daughter a specific amount of time for her visit, by how high you put the candle up. When it burns down to the iron, it's time for the "date" to end.

Then you walk into the larger "living room" area, with spinning wheels ...

And a huge walk-in fireplace, to do your cooking. Apparently, this was dangerous work and sometimes ladies would catch themselves on fire. There is a little "oven" on the upper right of the fireplaces, that looks like a pizza oven. Can you see it? It's toward the middle of the photo.

Up the stairs, to the sleeping quarters … where generally the whole entire family would sleep.

There was another fairly large fireplace in this room, as well. 

The past is not dead.
It isn't even past.
~William Faulkner

This building, below, was not originally on the property. It was built by PBS for the 1985 film "Three Sovereigns for Sarah," a movie about the witch trials, where Rebecca's sister was played by Vanessa Redgrave.

Anyway, they built it to the original plans of the town meeting hall. The original location of the town hall is in the middle of a neighborhood, so they build it here and used the property for filming.

It was in a room like this, that folks would meet on Sundays for town meetings, trials, as well as church services. It was likely the only day they'd see neighbors and people outside of the family, because they'd be working on their land day and night, the rest of the week.

In the photo, below, you can see the balcony, where less well-off members of the town would sit. And you can see the "box seats" below it.

Here's our awesome guide, Candice, showing the stick they would tickle or poke you with, if you fell asleep during church services. 


There was so much fear back then. If they couldn't explain something, like an illness or convulsions, it was the work of God or the Devil. It was a scary and superstitious time.

Looking out from the house, you see the rebuilt barn, which is now used for ticket sales, and sales of books on Rebecca, the witch trials and beautiful little packets of stationery and cards.

Here's Dawn, after we toured the house, and were ready to take the little path, to the family cemetery, across the field.

Monument built to Rebecca Nurse ...

To us,
the ashes of our ancestors are sacred
and their resting place is hallowed ground.
~Chief Seattle

On the monument

Rebecca Nurse
Yarmouth England
Salem Mass
O Christian Martyr
Who for Truth could die
When all about there
owned the hideous lie!
The world redeemed
from Superstitions sway
Is breathing freer
for thy sake to-day
by John Greenleaf Whittier

on the back of the monument…

Accused of Witchcraft
She declared
"I am innocent and God will 
clear my innocency"

Once acquitted yet falsely
condemned. She suffered 
death July 19, 1692.

In loving memory of her 
Christian character
even then fully attested by 
forty of her neighbors
this monument is erected
July 1885

They believe one of these stones, above, is perhaps were Rebecca is buried. After the trial, those convicted were not aloud to be buried in the consecrated cemetery, since supposedly they were in cahoots with the Devil, so they were buried out somewhere in unmarked graves. It is believed that most family members would go out and retrieve the bodies of their loved ones. 

There is a pretty detailed story of Rebecca's husband, and one of their sons, going to retrieve Rebecca, so it is believed she is buried here in the family cemetery.

Dawn took this of me, below ...

So sad what fear and ignorance can cause, both then and now.

We need to haunt the house of history 
and listen anew
to the ancestors' wisdom.
~Maya Angelou

One more thing …

Dawn and I decided to say a prayer at the house, before leaving. Being that Rebecca was a puritan, we thought the Lord's Prayer would be fitting. We held hands and said the prayer aloud, also touching the house with our other hands. When we got to the end and when we were saying "Amen," a big gust of wind came up, and chills went up through my whole body.

In the doorway to Grandma's house …

We were there for quite a while, and it had started getting pretty chilly. We finally headed out on the road to Salem where the streets were lined with these cute residences ...

Salem, was not how I remembered it. I had been in October, before Halloween, last time, as well. But on this Saturday, there was a festival going on, and it was kind of a zoo!

It was fun to see everyone in their witch hats, but at the same time, we'd just had this peaceful experience and had heard the real story about the witch hysteria and how many people suffered, so this felt a little like kitchy commercializing of something terrible that happened. 

Having said that, Dawn and I still wore our witch hats. ;)

We didn't do the Witch Museum, this time. Instead, we headed off to meet our wonderful old friends, in a little port town called Newburyport. Yet another adorable, charming town!

Ceia Kitchen and Bar

That's Stephen and his wife Jennifer, in the middle, between Dawn and me. We had a beautiful and tasty meal, and squeezed in a lovely, wonderful (if brief!) visit. They drove in and met us from Bedford, New Hampshire. 

(I met Stephen working at the Gap, on Melrose, in 1993!)

Here is a History Channel documentary if you are interested in learning about what happened during the Salem witch hysteria.

For more on the Rebecca Nurse Homestead, click here.
Rebecca Nurse on Wikipedia, click here.
Salem Witch Trials and Museum, click here.

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand,
you will see your parents
and all generations of your ancestors.
All of them are alive 
in this moment.
Each is present in your body.
You are the continuation of each of these people.
~Thich Nhat Hahn

Next up … Cape Cod!
Blessings and light!!!