Last December, my husband and I braved the cold wind on the ferry to Nantucket, bound for the Festival of Trees at the Nantucket Historical Association… and hoping to do a little last-minute shopping.
When we landed at the dock, my eyes were drawn to the harbor, where low winter sunlight sparkled. This is one of my favorite sights on the Cape, even though it only happens when the light hits the ocean at a lower, more dramatic angle.
I am always a little sad that friends who cherish these seaside places rarely get to see this spectacular winter light show transforming the ocean into a mesmerizing mosiac of light and shadow. The sight seems a perfect metaphor to me of how nature shapes the seasons of your life. Even though I spent my childhood on Mount Hope Bay and then grew up in a Long Island Sound town, I don’t remember the enchantment of winter light on the Bay or Long Island Sound. Maybe the clarity of such moments comes easier when you are older and the world has expanded beyond your own small pond.
My husband snapped this photo by the harbor and then we explored Nantucket’s holiday fiesta. Every shop seemed to overflow with sparkly decorations and surprises, and I filled my camera with shots of festive trees, wreaths, and window boxes decorating every street. We had some hot chocolate and then headed to our room at the Jared Coffin house. Soon the sun went down… and I thought, how different night is on an island in December, than on a bright summer evening. But no less beautiful.
In this issue, we share some of our favorite winter wonders on the Cape and Islands—from our cover story on savoring the Cape’s quiet season to the marvelous Flying Santas story tracing generous volunteer Santas bringing Christmas magic to lighthouse-bound children—a heart-warming holiday tradition that has happened on the Cape and Islands since 1929.
The happiest of holidays—
Cape Cod Life made a splash at an important community event this weekend, the MSPCA Furry Affair held at the Wianno Club in Osterville.
Cape Cod Life comptroller and passionate animal lover Liz Flynn, who has fostered dozens of animals in trouble, won Volunteer of the Year. Susan Dewey, Cape Cod Life editor, designed and donated a seaside wreath to the event’s auction.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the MSPCA’s Guardian Angel Fund and gives dogs and other animals like Taco (above) a second chance for a new life.
One of the best things about living on Cape Cod is the great variety of homes and gardens that can be found in every town. In my hometown of Centerville, for instance, seventeenth century Capes with moss-covered wooden roofs share backyards with cutting edge twenty-first century designs. There are sprawling brick mansions alongside Nantucket Sound and tiny shingled cottages hugging the shores of Lake Wequaquet. Something about living by the water seems to invite freedom of expression. When we choose our homes—and our gardens—anything goes.
When our publisher, Brian Shortsleeve, suggested that we launch Cape Cod GARDENS as a new April Cape Cod LIFE issue, I could not believe my luck. I can work in my Cape Cod garden by the hour without any sense of time. I am imagining bright red tomatoes, rows of vibrant basil, glimmering mounds of zucchini, billowing hydrangea, and perfect velvet-petaled roses as I plant, weed, and prune. I do not stop until the spring, summer, or fall sun goes down, or a blister develops on my hand, or my family and the dog wander by, wondering about a meal. Reluctantly, then, I put down my tools and turn off the story in my head. But I know I can pass through that gate again tomorrow into that imaginary world.
The same thing happens to me when I am writing. When I am writing at the office and it is going well, I do not hear phones ringing or coworkers talking. I am in whatever world I am creating and reality moves without boundaries just before a blinking cursor on my computer screen. Often, I don’t realize that the day is almost over until it starts to get dark in my office and I notice that my coworkers are heading home. This is what happens when you do not care how many hours it takes to help create a magazine with words and pictures as if it were a garden full of sight, color, and experiences so vivid that others can know it with you.
In this issue, you will see some of my garden world. Just as it is a joy for me to share this passion with you, one of the Cape’s best known garden writers, C.L.Fornari takes you through the world of growing roses, her knowledgeable words guiding you down the path to growing that perfect seaside rose. When C.L. writes about gardening, you can tell that she loves her job, too.
Our photographers move you into the natural world on Cape Cod and the Islands, their images caught in flashes of glory on these pages, so vivid that you want to reach out and touch that hot chartreuse beach grass along a wooded Nantucket path, where a gardener is following his vision of plants and stones and glimmering koi in a small pond…
I hope our very first Cape Cod GARDENS helps you shape your own garden world, perhaps with a little bit of Cape Cod and the Islands beauty from these pages in it, some bright lilies seen in this issue beside a Nantucket pond, or my favorite nasturtiums by our back door dancing in the golden light of a Cape Cod afternoon.
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
People who have never been to Cape Cod can still envision a haven of tidy little clapboard houses, a sight so familiar to many that people from all over can picture what a “Cape” house looks like. From Florida to San Diego, you can find Capes in almost any neighborhood. The first Capes were built centuries ago to survive tough winters like the one that we are slogging through as I write this during the eighth winter storm we have endured this year.
Sitting beside a living room fire on a wild February day in our 250-year-old Cape, I try to imagine all the people who lived in this house before us. We are lucky enough to know who lived here for most of the last 100 years because my husband’s family has owned the house since the 1920s. We have heard that the house was owned for a long time before that by women—but we have not traced the home’s complete history all the way back to Captain Bearse, who built the house in 1730.
Still, I am grateful to those unknown Cape Codders who cared for this sturdy, compact home. It is built low to the ground with a crooked staircase to the second floor, which is tucked under the eaves for warmth. Every room in the original house hugs a big center chimney that still draws effortlessly. A mile from the ocean, the house faces south, placed there to capture every bit of sunlight on long winter days.
This house—just like the handsome new Wellfleet home featured in this issue—was built to make the most of the physical world around it, to exist in harmony with nature. Of course, our Captain Bearse wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you told him that his house had an environmentally sensitive footprint. But there is something wonderful about the fact that the Los Angeles architect who designed this issue’s sophisticated, yet comfortable Wellfleet home on the dunes returned to the wisdom of those who first loved this wild, fiercely natural place.
As the wind howls, I know that soon great grandmother’s lilacs will burst into bloom along our driveway, sweet promises of yet another spring unfolding outside our back door. The more things change, the more they stay the same—at least for those us lucky enough to live in a home of any kind on Cape Cod.
Associate Publisher & Editor,
Some people have a hard time sharing their stories. They need to be questioned, maybe interrogated. It’s like when a parent asks their pensive child what they did in school today and they answer with a reflexive, “Nothing.” That really means they need to be asked some more questions, a line of inquiry that becomes more specific and more pointed until there’s a satisfactory answer.
Then there are the people who can tell stories at the slightest provocation. Good stories, too. The folks who seem to have the beginning, middle, and end in mind before they open their mouths. They remember the sights, the sounds, even the smells of their deﬁning experiences. And though they remember everything to the smallest detail, they have the good sense to leave out the dull and the extraneous.
John Murphy from Land Ho! in Orleans ﬁts that second description. He is a restaurateur, an accomplished artist, a family man, and a classic raconteur. When I asked him about the origins of the restaurant’s stuffed clams, I thought he might have a story to tell. I didn’t know I’d end up hearing my favorite anecdote involving a heartfelt apology from a rowdy ﬁsherman.
Whether we convey them easily or through effort, we all have stories to tell, and in this issue you’ll ﬁnd stories from folks who live all across the Cape and Islands. You’ll ﬁnd out who they are, what they do, why they came here, and why they stay here. The excellent photography shot by Dan Cutrona and other contributors proves that the words are only part of the story. But if you want to read more, visit www.capecodlife.com for extended cuts of interviews with a few of the most interesting characters.
Also in this issue, we are fortunate to feature an essay by Jay Allison, founder of WCAI, our region’s NPR station; the producer of The Moth Radio Hour, one of the great downloadable conduits of the oral tradition; and a Woods Hole resident. Elsewhere, contributor Donna Scaglione gives us an insider’s view of the best places to eat, beaches to visit, things to do, and hidden secrets of each town. Follow the guide and visit someplace you’ve never been. Afterward, you’ll probably have a few more stories to share.
Jeff Harder, Managing Editor
Before we lived on Cape Cod year-round, I wondered what it was like here in the winter-time. I used to think that after Labor Day, the Cape must be a ghost town. I imagined tumbleweeds of sea grass rolling down the empty streets of Hyannis, all the shops boarded up tight. I can remember asking a Centerville friend, “Is there any traffic at all here after Labor Day?” He looked at me with gentle frustration, having heard this question too many times before and said, “There really isn’t that much difference. There are still lots of people around.”
Of course, even though Hyannis continues to bustle all year-round and the rest of the Cape stays very busy during the “shoulder seasons,” Cape Cod’s natural world is very different in the winter time. In some ways, I like it even better then, when we walk the beaches alone, reveling in boundless expanses of sea and sky, streaked with icy silver in the low winter light. The cranberry bogs freeze sometimes and when we go skating, we can see next summer’s bushes branching beneath our feet.
During the holiday season, every town comes alive with Jolly Jaunts or Holly Days. At Centerville’s Christmas Stroll, parents and their children wait by the hour in a long line to see Santa Claus, a very merry man who gives every single child a stuffed animal. My husband and I have worked as Santa’s elves the last couple of years, putting treasures into eager hands. All along the village’s Main Street, volunteers roast sausages, serve hot chowder, make music, and spread a lot of cheer. It is always a magical time.
This issue is full of holiday enjoyment for all our readers. Find gift ideas Cape-wide, like the beautifully wrought, intricate kaleidoscopes created at Mashpee Common’s Cape Kaleidoscope, the elegant glimmering Cape Cod Christmas trees created by West Barnstable’s Pastiche of Cape Cod, or the array of new books at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. And if you’re looking to make your own gifts this Christmas, savor the sweet cranberry treat recipes cooked by Judy Shortsleeve, our publisher’s wife.
Cape Cod’s natural wonders may look different this time of year. But the people here during our winter season—in the villages, behind shop counters, holding the hands of Santa’s children—are the same. Wherever you are, over the bridge or beside us on a village street, we hope your spirit is warmed by this Cape Cod Life. All of us wish you a merry holiday season and a Happy New Year!
Best wishes,Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor, 508 419-7381, ext. 19, email@example.com
Home is a very important place during a Cape Cod and Islands winter. When the temperatures fall to freezing, the north winds howl, and the occasional snow falls, most of us long for a cozy refuge. All summer-long we have spent as much time as possible out in the elements, loving life on the beaches and the ocean. Home is a just a place we cruise through on our way outside. Then, usually sometime in late October, we wake up to the first frosty morning. We drag the lawn furniture into the garage, pull down the storm windows, dig out our sweaters, and hunker down for long days at home.
Many homeowners work especially hard during the holiday season to make their homes welcome havens for family and friends, full of comfort, festive decorations, and delicious cuisine. In this issue, we talk to two homeowners whose homes are show places during the holiday season. One homeowner uses everything she has to make her house a holiday wonderland, from a prized collection of antique blown glass to primitive antiques and folk art. Another turned to local interior decorators and shop owners to help her transform a historic home into a must-see on last year’s Sandwich Holly Days tour. For great ideas for your holiday decorating, be sure to take in this year’s Holly Days tour and others like it highlighted in this issue’s Fieldtrips.
Winter in the kitchen is such an emotionally evocative time, with favorite recipes taking center stage for eagerly anticipated celebrations like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day. On the Cape and Islands, seafood is often the star of holiday meals, whether its clam chowder for busy family members on Christmas Eve or oysters and champagne for a special soiree with close friends on New Years Eve. In our Cape Kitchen section, we share a cherished recipe straight from Cape Cod for superb stuffed quahogs that will fill you up and keep you warm.
If you do need some invigorating time outdoors, don’t miss our story on Brewster’s holly man, Bill Cannon, who has transformed a one-acre Route 6A backyard into a holly fairyland. More than 300 varieties of holly are a botanical delight here, colorful berries in a rainbow of colors and bright foliage gleaming along winding paths, even on the darkest of winter days.
All of us at Cape Cod HOME wish you the happiest of holidays and a promising new year. And we hope this issue helps make your house even more of a home.
Associate Publisher & Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cape Cod has more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations. Add to that number the nonprofit groups located on the islands and just over the bridges, and you have an enormous cadre of workers – many of them volunteers – who are filling gaps in critical areas that include affordable housing, the environment, hunger, and healthcare. Below are seven of these groups, a small sampling but enough to demonstrate the great work that local nonprofits are accomplishing. Now, at the threshold of the holiday season, is a perfect time to show your support for these charities and your other favorite causes. Read more…