map from the inside cover (click to enlarge)
As I read over these chapters, the book seems to me fairly what I venture to call it, "a year of the life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod." Bird migrations, the rising of the winter stars out of the breakers and the east, night and storm, the solitude of a January day, the glisten of the dune grass in midsummer, all this it to be found between the covers even as today it is still to be seen. Now that there is a perspective of time, however, something else is emerging from the pages which equally arrests my attention. It is the meditative perceptions to the relation of "nature" (and I include the whole cosmic picture in this term) to the human spirit. Once again, I set down the core of what I continue to believe. Nature is part of our humanity, and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery man ceases to be man. When Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, apart of the very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were, a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal not the birthright of a true humanity. As I once said elsewhere, "Man can either be less than man or more than man, and both are monsters, the last more dread." -from the foreword of the eleventh printing of The Outermost House
My sister gave me a copy of The Outermost House by Henry Beston for my birthday this year. I just started it yesterday and will probably finish it today. It is simply captivating, and with fall hinting in the breezes over the last couple of days the book is transporting me back precious time spent in the dune shacks almost two years ago. The worn yellowed pages and view out to the dunes drawn on the cover add to my affection. It feels timely to be reading it now, especially as I spend so much time thinking about how humans and nature seem to be departing further and further from one another.
Henry lived a vivid life of other possibilities during his year on the "Great Beach of Cape Cod".
Learn how Henry's house (the Fo' Castle) tumbled into the sea in 1978 and efforts to rebuilt it have been intiated by the Henry Beston Society.