by Matthew Tomlinson

When I moved back to Massachusetts this summer, one of the first things I sought out (after quarantining) was nature and solitude. Where I lived in Florida, it was difficult to even find an empty street. Much of my time on walks was spent crossing the street to avoid other pedestrians. The Cape, on the other hand, gave me plenty of paths and trails and even residential streets where I could go on a walk without running into a single person.

I made the goal for myself to find new trails that I had never been to before, and throughout the Summer and Fall I have been successful. The first new trail I found was the Sansuit River Trail in Cotuit. Not long after, I happened upon a trail in Mashpee that connects to Wakeby Pond.

Soon I made my way to the Shawmie-Crowell State Forest, with its deep dark woods and red trees. On all of these walks I would bring my IPhone, and would constantly seek out pictures worth taking amidst all the scenery. Taking pictures slows down time. In the seconds where one tries to steady their grip, where one movement might be the difference between hitting the delete button or finding a “keeper”, all the worries of the outside world fade away. Suddenly all the worries about the virus, politics and the economy cease to exist.

On a walk in August, while walking in Santuit, I encountered an owl. Alone in the woods, it was just the two of us. As I took photos of it, the Owl peered down at me curiously. Silent and mysterious.  I got in contact with the Massachusetts Audobon Society, who were able to tell me  the Owl in question was a Grey Spotted Owl. My encounter with the owl was one of my favorite moments of the summer.

In September, I was returning home from a short lived job in Brewster. On my way I passed by the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Sunset was imminent, and I made a quick stop. The trail has a boardwalk, in the middle of a marsh. An Osprey nest sits in the middle of it, sticking out of the seagrass like a tower. There I encountered a middle-aged couple, who told me I should see the beach. I took their advice and made my way to the beach, on the other side of a forested trail.  When I found the shore the sunset I found was one of the most brilliant I have ever seen. I sat there for some time, taking photos from every angle that I could. I lost track of time, and ended up having to walk alone through the woods in the dark to get back to my car. It was scarier than I like to admit, but every bit worth it. In the times of Covid, it’s the little things that help you see the big picture. Sometimes it’s a big picture.