Kate Clinton

Infrequent Flier Smiles

Filed By Kate Clinton | August 19, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Joe's Coffee, Kate Clinton, Provincetown

I am pleased to announce, I have accrued no frequent flier miles this month of August. I have filled my 1998 Jeep's gas tank once and that was because there is something wrong with the gas gauge and John, my mechanic's fix was, "Aw, just don't let it go under half a tank and you'll be fine." I have enough frequent biker miles to get new flip-flops. But mine are perfectly grooved to my feet. I have a very small carbon footprint.

My road most traveled is from my house in the mid-west end of old Provincetown either to work, to the post office, to the beach, to the dunes. I bought my bike years ago at a year end Ptown Bikes sale. It is still labeled #10 for their rental records. It has big sturdy handlebars, a big bike seat that absorbs all rain. It has one speed - me. The brakes are in the pedals. I share the bike with my neighbor. Sometimes he sprays WD40 on the rusting chain. He rides it all winter. Old Number Ten we call it. It has outlasted two other fancy schmantzy over-geared bikes, ruined by salt air and sand.

My un-mapquested route to work, takes me by my neighbor Gordon, the town barber sitting on his deck. "Hi, Katie," he says, "have a good show, dahlin." I'm Katie to all the old Ptown Portuguese guys. I ride by my favorite Tips for Tops'n restaurant/commissary where his wife is the cashier, and breathe in the fried scallops as I pass.

With the gorgeous bay glinting with less and less light each evening, I turn onto Commercial Street. Past late caffeine crowds at Joe's Coffee; the West End Salon bubble machine doing its Lawrence Welk best; nearly naked boys doing last minute flyering outside the thumping music from the Boat-slip t-dance; past Spiritus with returning, starving beach bunnies carbo-loading pizza just to get to their guest houses; past early birders at Front Street; past little kids in the tiniest crocs picking through intriguing sale bins outside the Army/Navy Store; past the barkers for shows at the Unitarian Church and on into the entertainment complex of The Crown and Anchor. It takes me five minutes to get to work, if I don't stop to talk with anyone.

Now when I come out from my shows, the sun has already set. The sky is often pyrotechnically pastel on the Pilgrim monument. We are heading into the big Carnival and Labor Day weeks, two weeks of flat out fun for tourists and the last laps for tired workers. Back to school ads have been out for weeks. The nights are cool. I am experiencing that unnatural fondness for knee socks that just the word September brings.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 19, 2008 9:53 AM

Kate it sounds beautiful. I left my car in Florida, or I should say, it left me to go to a new owner as I and my partner got on a flight to Thailand. Today we took "Sangtao's" across town. (They are also known as baht buses and are a pickup truck with canopy and benches!) We had to go to the hospital for my friend and after a minor procedure we went to the grocery, arranged to have our purchases delivered by motorcycle to arrive after we took two such buses home. En route I also observed with a smile the love between two young girls (they were only in their teens and one was the "butch" protector of her sweet friend. They sat directly opposite us and could not have been a prettier picture.

On an ordinary day I take long walks around our hills and beach and give thanks for all that is beautiful in the tropics. It is summer here, but I see love in the air every day since we arrived last October.

Several years ago, C and I bought bikes at the "end of season" sale at Ptown Bikes. I think we paid $40 for each. Now we keep them in Manhattan where the annual fee to store them in the bike room of our coop building exceeds their value. They are indestructible and we don't worry that they may be stolen because they are not showy and besides our out-of-pocket loss would be insignificant. On Saturday, in the company of the intrepid JoeMyGod, we covered about 20 miles on those bikes.
In Ptown, the errand is, as you describe, the pleasure. When we had the house on Pearl Street, I used to set out with one task in mind. Perhaps I needed paint at the hardware store, or olive oil at the grocery store. In most communities, you try to bundle efficiently as many tasks as possible into one excursion, but in Ptown, I would break them up into separate ritualized outings. Getting the mail might be timed to allow for gossiping with the Avon lady who was clipping her lilacs. Getting coffee in late afternoon might entail getting a description of new arrivals from the owners of the guest house down the road. The pure and simple act of exiting or entering a doorway in that town always meant mirth and laughter and a stretching of the peace-muscles that grow slack or knotted in folks who live elsewhere.
We left Provincetown four years ago. In September, I'm coming back for the first time. Your post makes me hopeful that nothing has really changed.

You've made me want to go to Provincetown even more than before!

Terrible to say, but I've not been to Provincetown this year at all. Kate; you make me exceedingly sorry that I missed it though my traipses along the Hudson Valley this summer have been a delight..footpowered.