2014 up in smoke.

AuthorClinton, Kate
PositionUNPLUGGED - Column

Nothing is sweeter than a sunset beach fire. Especially if it's at Herring Cove beach on the tiny island nation of Provincetown (Ptown), Massachusetts, a town so far east it could and should be in the Atlantic time zone.

For the gyroscopically challenged like myself, driving from Boston to Ptown is a ten on the one-to-Dramamine scale. At first the sun is over your left shoulder. Twenty minutes later it's in your face. Twenty more minutes, it's on your right cheek. Did I spin out on black ice? The "Provincetown Straight Ahead" sign at the Sagamore Bridge entrance onto Cape Cod is doubly ironic.

But Ptown's curvilinear challenges are more than offset by its sunrises and sunsets, both over the ocean. You can toast sunrise with your morning coffee at one beach and toast sunset on another beach with your evening coffee and Kahlua.

Prepping tasks for a summer beach fire include securing the coveted fire permit, foraging in friends' woodpiles, making aluminum foil Girl Scout dinner packs, finding the shovel and bucket, estimating time and tide overlaps, digging the pit, setting the logs, and fingering the wind. Prepping for a winter beach fire includes all of the above except the dinner packs, plus buying a Duraflame log, finding that old Polartec ski onesie, and bringing pens and paper.

For at least twenty-five years, we have had a New Year's beach fire in Ptown. Sunset is at 3:30pm. Some years there have been gorgeous, Biblical, Jesus rays out of the clouds with a final green sunset flash. Some years, thanks to global weirding, we've stayed at the beach in a mild, violet dusk until 8:oop. Last year we were in the eye of the polar vortex. The fluid in the fire-starter stick froze, iPhones went dead. We lasted twenty minutes.

But no one ever leaves the beach before doing our one beach fire ritual. No, not burning man. Each year we write down the...

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