Viewing the island of Cape Cod as a flexed arm, Chatham is positioned at the elbow. It’s the southernmost of the towns along the Atlantic coast.
The white tower of Chatham Light overlooks the rugged shoreline where thousands of shipwrecks have taken place. There were originally two lighthouses called the Twin Lights so they could face in different directions, until a revolving light was constructed.
The Mayflower, carrying Pilgrims, among the earliest European settlers in North America, sailed close to this corner of the cape, looking for the Hudson River. They encountered the dangerous shoals of Pollack Rip and turned north to Cape Cod Bay, eventually landing in Plymouth.
Beyond the dunes and beach grass, a stroll along the beach brought me in sight of a strange, whimsical-looking structure. Originally believed to have started as an outhouse that was swept into the ocean during a storm. It washed up on the beach, was propped up and bolstered, and then was slowly adorned by visitors with found pieces of debris and artistic additions. Rather than a political statement of the Occupy movement, the Occupy sign was added to comment on the recent debate between the town of Chatham and officials from the Cape Cod National Seashore over who has control of South Beach.
The Godfrey Windmill, built in 1797, was used to grind corn for early settlers. It was moved to Chase park in town in the 1950s and towers over a residential neighborhood. On the other end of the park a labyrinth was constructed in 2012 to celebrate Chatham’s 300th birthday, a replica of a medieval labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France. Not a maze problem to solve, it’s a meditative stroll, a path to follow.
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