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President Obama Visits Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard

When President Obama touched down in Cape Cod for his 2011 Martha’s Vineyard getaway, Cape Cod Life Publications’ office manager was there with her triplet granddaughters to greet him!

On the Cove in Cataumet

On the Cove in Cataumet

Seaside living at its best can be found in this exquisite five-bedroom architect designed home in peaceful Cataumet. Take in marvelous sunsets and south west breezes, or head out from your own mooring float to picturesque harbors and sandy island beaches. Relax and enjoy the fishing, shellfishing, birding and sunbathing right outside your door.

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Heal and Restore

Heal and Restore

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A Haunting In Barnstable

The building at 3217 Main St. in Barnstable Village doesn’t look like it’s haunted. But don’t tell that to the lawyer who rented an office there a few years ago. He was working late one night, heard a strange noise, and saw the door latch to a closet drop down. Things got even more eerie the following day when he witnessed a ghostly woman entering his room, wearing a dress and carrying a hatchet. In the next room, he reported seeing a woman churning butter next to the fireplace. He immediately broke his lease. Perhaps not coincidentally, the building is now for sale.

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Preserving the Cape Cod Character

Gazing across the Fort Hill overlook in Eastham, the magnificence of Cape Cod’s natural beauty and rich cultural history comes into full view. The Nauset salt marsh and ocean that sustained native peoples and early European settlers spreads out below. Heathland and fields, still populated by migratory birds, butterflies, and rabbits, reflect the agricultural past of the site, the former Knowles farm. The 19th-century home of Captain Edward Penniman, framed in view by a whale’s jawbone for a garden gate, recalls the region’s maritime heritage. It is a scene of fleeting serenity that has been eons in the making. Read more…

Wellfleet to the World

In just a few short years, Wellfleet’s Ariel, Sarah, Nora, Rose, and Lydia Parkington have gone from busking on the streets of Provincetown to sold-out concerts and national tours. Today, this band of sisters hit the stage with violins and a cello. They are fearless, playing music that one can’t readily dance to, nor even really sing along with, yet they transfix audiences. They are bright, articulate young women. There’s just one question they can’t answer: What does their music sound like?

P sisters window Rose hems for a few moments, then defers to Sarah. Sarah isn’t sure either. Nora is equally stymied. Giggling, she finally says, “Tell them we’re a cult Norwegian metal band, that’ll throw ‘em off.”

The sisters’ range is considerable, and their influences are not always apparent. They often close shows with a Radiohead cover. But at the conclusion of a recent performance at the Jailhouse in Orleans, even as sustained applause faded and the sisters began to file off stage, Rose playfully began the familiar keyboard intro to “Jump,” Van Halen’s pop-metal paean from 1984, an album that came out four years before she was born. Read more…

Stories Behind the Brushstrokes

Ashley Owen Painters render the subjects they are passionate about, and Frank Chike Anigbo finds his subjects far away from his Cape Cod home. Since 2005, he has visited Los Angeles and documented the lives of homeless men and women who walk the streets of the Skid Row neighborhood. Painting is his way of bringing these people out of anonymity and making them visible and distinct. In return, his subjects provide Anigbo with a rare honesty that appears on his canvases. “Most of us walk around with masks on to hide who we really are,” Anigbo says. “But with people with absolutely nothing, I find incredible sincerity. They have nothing left to hide. They lost it all already.” Read more…

Island Classic

Terry Pommett Nantucket will host the Opera House Cup, August 18 to 21, part of the North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. The Opera House Cup takes its name from the eponymous venue whose owner, in 1973, had the idea of organizing a regatta reserved for wooden sail boats. It is the oldest regatta of this kind to take place along the East Coast.  Every year, a large fleet of vintage boats gathers in a thrilling spectacle. The Opera House Cup has become a summer spectator tradition as the Rainbow Fleet escorts the boats past Brant Point lighthouse to the start.

Past participants include former America’s Cup winners (Intrepid, Weatherly, Columbia), well-known competitors (Shamrock, Endeavor) and  other notable yachts like the Mystic Seaport schooner Brilliant and General Patton’s When and If. On the smaller side, prestigious boats in the Dragon class and the classic Herreshoff-designed and Nantucket-built Alerions also often participate. Yachts must be made in wood or metal, built according to traditional designs and methods, with wood or aluminium spars.

Terry Pommett The North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge takes place in three locations throughout the season: the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta in Marblehead, the Opera House Cup in Nantucket and the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport.

For each regatta, an Officine Panerai prize is presented to the overall winner and to the winners of each class. The overall winners for each of the three regattas receive their prizes in a ceremony held during the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport. To compete for the final trophy, each boat must participate in at least two of the three events in the schedule, one of which must be the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta. Terry Pommett

The Opera House Cup Regatta is the grand finale of Nantucket Race Week, and the events culminate with the OHC Awards Party, held under the tents on Jetties Beach on Sunday evening. Good food, drinks, videos of the OHC race, a silent auction, presentation of the awards and music keep the party going late into the evening. The OHC Awards Party is one of “the parties of the season” on Nantucket.

For information on the Opera House Cup, go to www.operahousecup.org.

 

Growing Green Hands

Susan Spencer

When teacher Christine Fawkes’ first grade class gathers in the hollow of windswept dunes on Cape Cod’s Sandy Neck Beach one bright summer morning, it marks the culmination of a season’s worth of work. Since springtime, these students from Barnstable-West Barnstable Elementary School and others schools around the state have been working with the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary to rear endangered, thumbnail-sized eastern spadefoot toads. Today, these excited seven-year-olds reach into aquariums, gently scoop more than 230 of the species into their hands, and happily watch the little toads hop away into the sandy wilderness.

Susan Spencer With its range of freshwater, marine, and upland habitats, Cape Cod provides a living classroom for students to study and learn about the fragility of this coastal environment. More and more, schools are teaming up with local science and nature organizations to encourage even the youngest children to be aware of the world around them, starting with their own backyard of Cape Cod. From partnerships with groups including the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Mass Audubon sanctuaries, and the Cape Cod National Seashore, innovative teachers are bringing science alive, forging lasting connections with the community and placing the local environment in greener hands.

Spadefoot toads, which are threatened in Massachusetts due to a significantly declining habitat, are known to be found in only 32 places around the state, including the Province Lands at the Cape Cod National Seashore, and on Sandy Neck. “They prefer a habitat they can burrow into,” says Ian Ives, director of both Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Cummaquid and the Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary in East Falmouth. “They spend almost all of their existence under the sand.” Records of spadefoots also exist in the boggy Ashumet area, but the tiny toads haven’t been seen there for 15 to 20 years, according to Ives, who has studied the records at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Susan Spencer Mass Audubon and its student partners are hoping to turn things around for the state’s rarest toads by reintroducing them to their native habitats. Ives says, “This is an opportunity to head-start the toads, learn how to raise them, and bring them back to their natural habitat.”

Ives says that working with the schools is a natural fit. The students feed the tadpoles fish, rabbit food, and bugs and create aquarium habitats with a pool and a mounded beach to match each stage of growth. For instance, the kids first give the herbivore tadpoles lots of water and fish flakes, but as soon as the tadpoles start metamorphosis, students add wingless fruit flies and ants to the amphibians’ habitat. “It got the kids thinking not just about the endangered toads, but it also opened their eyes to other endangered animals,” says Catherine Scibelli of Barnstable, whose daughter Alessandra took part in this project. “We live in such a beautiful spot; I think it’s great they become aware of everything they have around them and bring that into the classroom.” Such invaluable lessons from the land are being taught at other Cape Cod schools including the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Orleans. Paul Niles, an eighth grade science teacher and the founder and associate director of this public school for grades six, seven, and eight, says having students understand the basic ecosystems on Cape Cod was a principal goal when the school opened in 1994. When the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster became interested in developing school programs a few years back, the two institutions formed a partnership.

Susan Spencer

During the year, all sixth-graders from the school join naturalists from the museum, teachers, and parent volunteers to visit the area’s four major ecosystems: kettle ponds, uplands, barrier beaches, and salt marshes. They measure the salinity of salt marshes, examine pond water teeming with microscopic organisms, and meet with guest lecturers among other activities.

“We walked through the boardwalk on the marsh and learned about the special perfume that the flies like,” recalls current eighth-grader Amanda Carreiro of Harwich. They also made trail guides for the museum. Amanda’s mother, Andrea Higgins, leads nature hikes and journaling seminars at the school, activities that complement the projects with the museum. “We went walking in these wonderful spots like Nickerson Park and the National Seashore, and we wrote about them in our journals. I was so filled with hope after reading these journal writings—it was really exciting,” she says. “If they’ve fallen in love with an area, they’ll take care of it.”

Susan Spencer The site visits and seminars have sparked enormous interest in environmental clubs offered at the school, including a chapter of Roots & Shoots, a global sustainability network founded by Primatologist and Environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall. Last year, the Cape Cod Lighthouse Roots & Shoots Club received the Middle School Energy Education School of the Year Award from the National Energy Education Development Project for co-hosting an energy fair at the Museum of Natural History. Nauset Regional High School and Eastham Elementary School’s ecology clubs also participated in the project. “We educated families and people around the Cape on how to save energy,” Amanda says. “And, we got to meet Jane Goodall at the Roger Williams Zoo (in Providence) and present our energy project to her.”

“Society has been good about nurturing adolescents’ impulses toward athletic and artistic pursuits, but not so good with science and the environment,” Niles says. “Here, those science and environment muscles have been exercised.” What’s more, while multiple factors may be responsible, the middle school’s collaboration with the Museum of Natural History and abundant hands-on conservation activities have coincided with higher test scores, particularly in science.

Susan Spencer

The Outer Cape’s natural beauty and the prominent science community drew John Hanlon to call Provincetown his home after moving from Framingham, Massachusetts. Hanlon, who teaches science for the town’s fourth through 11th graders, spends his summers working as a park ranger for the National Park Service, a job that has placed him at the Cape Cod National Seashore for many years. This summer job has inspired Hanlon to bring his students to dunes, marshes, woodlands and cranberry bogs during the school year to teach them science lessons on location, rather than sitting at a desk.  It has also opened doors for his students to conduct internships and projects in the community.

Hanlon and his students work with the scientists of the National Seashore on projects like mapping invasive species and conducting controlled burns in Truro and Wellfleet, experiences that have helped the students learn about wildfire, biodiversity, and creating new habitats. The students have also joined the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies to study plankton and investigate the ever-changing shoreline. “If there’s a dead whale that just washed up, we can get in the bus and go look at it,” Hanlon says.

Susan Spencer Hanlon asserts that getting students out and about to care for the environment has also strengthened their connection with the community. After seeing students testing water in Provincetown Harbor, one resident was inspired to contribute a grant so the students could grow clams, which they then donated to a soup kitchen.

Provincetown High School graduate Leo Rose, who grew up hunting and fishing with his father in Truro, says science projects with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and an internship with the National Seashore propelled him to pursue a degree in environmental law enforcement at Unity College in Maine with long-term plans to become a park ranger. “I learned how environmentally friendly the national park is,” he says.

Hanlon says the class expeditions cultivate an appreciation for the outdoors that other students in town never had the chance to develop. “The science is one part, but just getting outside to the trails—some kids never get that,” he says. “For many kids, school is not a positive experience; but this is something to look forward to.”

Protecting this fragile landscape and learning from those on the front lines of conservation work are real-life lessons in thinking globally and acting locally. While environmental challenges such as climate change can seem overwhelming, students on Cape Cod are learning that they can make a positive difference, one land-use policy, one habitat, and one tiny endangered toad at a time.

 

His Heaven on Earth

Award-winning Cape Cod landscape designer Paul Miskovsky’s own garden is mystical and magical any time of the day—or night.

Frank Foster

Paul Miskovsky has planted a garden on a cliff, set another on an island in a pond, and created several under the vast roof of the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. But of his many horticultural designs, there may be none more enchanting than that which surrounds his own Falmouth home.

We are in Miskovsky’s backyard on a hillside that edges conservation land, eyeing below a lush scene of a waterfall surrounded by a profusion of plants. Miskovsky, owner of Miskovsky Landscaping in Falmouth, and his fiancée, Eva Lemoine, worked for three years on the garden, which begins in the front of their buttermilk-yellow contemporary colonial and stretches around both sides to fill the backyard. Tonight, special lighting will transform the entire setting into a mystical wonderland.

The property has a variety of features, including several patio settings, but Miskovsky thinks of it as a single garden. This pocket of nature means everything to the landscape designer. “Living with this garden is a very fulfilling lifestyle,” he says. “It’s the visual, the color, the sound, the interest through the seasons.”

Frank Foster Miskovsky and Lemoine moved to the Falmouth property in 2002 and dug into the landscape project. It was memorable, requiring hundreds of yards of topsoil and compost. “We were buying it by the trailer load from Maine,” Miskovsky recalls, shaking his head at the memory. Over those three years, the couple turned a flat, hard surface of gravel peppered with a few oak trees into a horticultural beauty with several gradations and different views every few steps.

Pools of cool quiet are interwoven with imaginative arrangements and sculpture that draw your attention. Scents waft from flowers and sage. Trees and grasses rustle in the wind, while water fountains and the backyard waterfall provide a soothing backdrop sound. Colors abound. Some of the plants are free-form and others are shaped, such as the spidery, deep green European larch, a new variety.

Stacey Hedman Miskovsky has won top awards at the New England Spring Flower Show in Boston. He is a trustee of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which produces the annual show. But designing the property that he and Lemoine see and live in every day was a very different experience—and not easy. “This garden is really formal-informal,” Miskovsky says. “There are games I play here. I played a lot of horticultural tricks, getting it all to look like it should.”

At either side of the front door, centered in the columned front portico, are big pots of pom-pom topiaries that provide a touch of formality. Just off the porch are concrete planters that he and Lemoine found and filled with trailing ivy that circles a single Cordyline, a dramatic focal point plant with purple-red leaves and a recent introduction in the plant world. Lemoine is a very important part of the process. As Miskovsky says, “She’s the one who takes care of the garden.”

Miskovsky is well aware of the importance of people in his life. His father, a mechanic, died when he was 10 and Miskovsky began taking any work he could get—yard care, clamming, repairing machinery—to help support the family. It is a touching story of a young boy rising to the challenge of a household where children had to help provide. Miskovsky doesn’t think that the fact he’s been working since age 10 says anything about his character. He shrugs, saying simply, “Everybody’s got a story.”

Stacey Hedman Miskovsky hunts out new plants the way some people scour the earth for rare antiques. He’s attracted to the unusual, unknown, and difficult-to-grow. He found the Cordyline at the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show in London. “It was brand new,” he recalls. In another flower grouping, alongside blue salvia, orange Leonotis leonurus, and pink spiderwort, are Martha’s Vineyard shrub roses. “They’re not produced anymore,” Miskovsky says, pointing to the soft pink roses. The leonurus is a native of Africa and usually grown in California, Hawaii, and Australia.

This says a lot about Miskovsky. If he likes a plant, he puts enough sweat and love into its welfare to assure its survival. “You do the best you can for them, and hopefully they do their best for you,” he says.

Stacey Hedman

The real horticultural surprise is in the back of the house. There are several spaces here, some offering privacy and others perfect for gathering groups of friends and family. Three patios are set with tables and chairs, all with a view of the waterfall, which is center stage. Nearby a granite walkway with a locust banister leads to a space that feels like a secret, furnished with a table and chairs under a bamboo cover that sprouts clematis.

Stacey Hedman Eyes always turn to the waterfall. Water rushes over flat Maine granite stones, creating a pleasant experience for the eyes, ears, and soul. There is no pond at the bottom— Miskovsky buried pumps and a bio-filter to create the rushing water. But it looks completely natural.

Stacey Hedman Another space high on the hillside is cleared for a tent and picnic table. Nearby is a little enclosure with a bamboo roof and locust frame. It is a private space for Miskovsky’s nine-year-old son. “This is his fort,” he says. On the other side of the house is a shed like no other. The roof is planted with spiky variegated yucca, butterfly weed, verbena, and ferns, and hearty English ivy trails down the sides.

Sitting at his favorite patio, Miskovsky gazes at a hefty birdhouse—big and roomy, purple martin size—sitting on a cedar pole. The late Allen Haskell, a renowned horticulturist from New Bedford and Miskovsky’s mentor, gave it to him. “It weighs 200 pounds,” Miskovsky says. “It took four men to get it up there and a tele-handler.”

Miskovsky is very comfortable here; he is home, after all. “I’m very lucky,” he says as his eyes sweep over the view. “It’s a nice little garden.”

To contact Paul Miskovsky, go to www.miskovskylandscape.com.

 

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