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Shore Things Winter 11

Outdoor Oasis

Porch PORCH ($14.95), a new book by award-winning photographer Brian Vanden Brink, gives readers a glimpse at the outdoor oases on some of New England’s finest homes. Vanden Brink, whose work has been published in Cape Cod HOME, Boston Globe Magazine, and Coastal Living among other magazines, collaborated with author Richard Grant to produce this handsome book. The featured homes are in a variety of New England settings, from picturesque woods to the glorious shoreline. The simple, comfortable beauty on display in PORCH will inspire anyone who wants to add personal touches to their own outdoor living space. Available at Cape and Islands bookstores and from Down East Books (www.downeastbooks.com).

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Nov/Dec 2011

Nantucket Noël

Nantucket Christmas Stroll

Nantucket’s 2011 Christmas Stroll Weekend, held December 2-4, is a bright beacon of holiday spirit, when the famous coastal community attracts visitors by ferry and plane to a weekend of seasonal merriment. Each cobblestone street is brightened with imaginatively decorated trees of every kind, from traditional trees glimmering with ornaments to humorous whimsical designs. All are decorated by school children, youth groups, and nonprofit organizations working hand in hand with island businesses. Window boxes in front of almost every shop are filled with scented holiday evergreens, colorful bows, and decorative splashes. After the trees blaze with light, crowds fill the cool seaside air with the musical joy of old-fashioned holiday songs. Read more…

Warm Winter Reads

The Chatham School Affair
by Thomas H. Cook
Bantam, 1997

Travel back to the 1920s as the narrator recounts a life-changing year of love and murder in a mystery that takes place in Chatham when an all-boys school hires Elizabeth Channing, the school’s first, and last, art teacher. “It was first published in 1997, but remains one of my best-selling ‘local flavor’ books,” says Mark Leach of Now Voyager Bookstore and Gallery in Provincetown. Read more…

Stiches in Time

Stitches in Time On a cold Saturday morning, 18 Cape women come together in a cozy shop on Route 6A in Dennis, linked together by a common passion. Shedding jackets, they sit around a large table, and dive happily into a hobby that one calls, “the best therapy ever.” These women—ranging in age from mid-30s to late-80s—are die-hard knitters in the Ladybug Knitting Shop’s very popular knitting classes.

All year-round, the Ladybug’s classes provide camaraderie, comfort, and more than 40 years of knitting know-how in the capable hands of knitting teacher, Nancy Downey of Dennis. “No sign-up is necessary,” says Barbara Prue, the friendly owner of the shop since 1982. “People can just stop by.” For just $4 a class, knitters like Carol Crosby of Yarmouthport (who has knitted since she was 10) turn out beautiful sweaters, tiny baby booties, fashionable scarves for teenagers—even hand-knit dolls.

“I’ve been coming here for eight years,” says Ann Petrou. “As soon as we bought our house, I found the Ladybug.”–Susan Dewey

Knitting classes are held Tuesdays and Fridays from 1-3 p.m. and Saturdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. For information, go to www.ladybugknitting.com

Five Favorite Shoreline Walks

  1. Lowell Holly Reservation Mashpee and Sandwich
    An arborist’s delight, four miles of tree-lined carriage roads and walking trails traverse this peninsula that juts into Mashpee and Wakeby ponds. Some 250 stands of American holly trees, representing 50 varieties, flourish among the beech and rare northern red oak and sweet birch trees. Former Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell donated the property in 1943 to The Trustees of Reservations as a horticultural preserve. Trail parking is on South Sandwich Road in Sandwich.
  2. Indian Lands Conservations Area Dennis
    Early settlers considered Bass River a possible site for a canal connecting Nantucket Sound to Cape Cod Bay, and some say the Vikings moored here en route to new lands. Contemplate the waterway’s intriguing past on a walk along 1.3 miles of serene trails, with views of Bass River bordered by the rich golden hues of salt marsh. Birdwatchers will enjoy spotting wintering heron, ducks and egrets. The trail starts behind the parking lot at Dennis Town Hall, 485 Main Street, South Dennis.
  3. John Wing Trail, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History Brewster
    The 1.3-mile trail features a microcosm of the Cape’s landscape, with salt marsh, wooded uplands and barrier beach. Cross the marsh boardwalk onto the island (be sure to check the tide—it floods when high) where native people once harvested shellfish and 19th-century settlers operated saltworks. A replica Sachem solar calendar near the main trail recalls early life on the island. Rolling dunes beyond the woods bring you to crystal-blue Cape Cod Bay and its expansive tidal flats. The museum is located at 869 Main Street/Route 6A, Brewster.
  4. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Chatham
    Migrating songbirds and shorebirds including terns and plovers abound here, along the tip of the Lower Cape. The site has been designated a World Bird Conservation Area by the American Bird Conservancy, so it’s no surprise the 1.1-mile trail is a favorite among birdwatchers. A boardwalk on top of the bluff offers vistas of Monomoy’s South Beach, a barrier island. Follow the trail down steps to the beach, which disappears at high tide, and walk along dunes and marsh where myriad wildlife can be spotted. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is located on Morris Island at Wikis Way.
  5. Cannon Hill (Hamblen’s Island) Wellfleet
    Crossing the footbridge known as “Uncle Tim’s Bridge” over Duck Creek brings you to a small island where you can gaze across on a darkening afternoon to the sparkling lights of this historic harbor town. Gabled roofs of 19th-century buildings, now filled with galleries and cafes, rise along the compact hillside. An easy, looping trail on the island passes through oak, pine and bearberry forest. Watch for countless fiddler crabs scrabbling in the tidal flats along the shore. A small parking area for Uncle Tim’s Bridge is on East Commercial Street. –Susan Spencer

Holiday Getaways

Ringing in the holidays with a festive Cape Cod mini-vacation has a bonus: you can find great accommodations without breaking the bank. Here are a few standout deals from some of our region’s finest establishments. Whether you’re looking for a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner without setting foot in the kitchen or a Christmas shopping respite, the perfect destination to spend this season is within reach.

DAN’L WEBSTER INN & SPA  Sandwich
DAN’L WEBSTER INN & SPA  Sandwich From Dec. 2-4, ride the Cape Cod Central Railroad’s North Pole Express (see page 37) and return to a cozy night at the inn. Package includes a 15 percent room discount, a breakfast voucher, two tickets to the North Pole Express, a welcome gift, and $100 in coupons. Package starts at $243. The Yuletide Gardens Aglow package, which is available Nov. 26-Dec. 17, includes one night’s accommodations, breakfast, and tickets to Heritage Museum and Garden’s “Gardens Aglow” display of colorful holiday lights. Prices start at $222. Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa – 149 Main St., Sandwich. 800-444-3566, www.danlwebsterinn.com.

CAPE CODDER RESORT & SPA  Hyannis
CAPE CODDER RESORT & SPA  Hyannis Feel the glow of the holidays with 100,000-plus lights, Santa’s workshop, and costumed carolers at the Cape Cod Enchanted Village in the Cape Codder’s courtyard. Enchanted Village packages start from $119 ($169 Friday or Saturday) and include one night in a deluxe room and $100 in dining, lodging, and shopping certificates. Visitors can also take a magical ride on the North Pole Express departing from Sandwich, with train tickets and discounts for lodging, meals, and spa services, starting at $233. Cape Codder Resort & Spa – 1225 Iyannough Rd., Hyannis. 888-297-2200, www.capecodderresort.com.

THE COONAMESSETT INN  Falmouth
THE COONAMESSETT INN  Falmouth Relax in the inn’s cheery décor featuring an exquisite poinsettia tree, gingerbread houses, and an assortment of holiday greens, with a dining and lodging package. The $130 package includes one night’s accommodation, breakfast, and dinner for two in the dining room warmed by the crackling fire. Seasonal menu specials include New England traditions like pot roast, plus such year-round favorites as fresh seafood and steaks. The Coonamessett Inn – 311 Gifford St., Falmouth. 508-548-2300, www.coonamessettinn.com.

THE ORLEANS INN   Orleans
THE ORLEANS INN   Orleans Savor the season in a gracious sea captain’s home overlooking Nauset Harbor. The Thanksgiving Weekend Away package, available Nov. 24-26, starts with a bottle of Truro Vineyards wine in your waterfront guest suite, two nights’ stay, Thanksgiving dinner for two, and breakfast each morning. The Seaside Winter Holiday Es-CAPE, available Nov. 26-Dec. 31, includes two nights’ stay in a waterfront guest suite, $100 dining credit to the Orleans Inn Waterfront Restaurant (weekends), and breakfast. Each package is $650. The Orleans Waterfront Inn – 3 Old County Rd., Orleans. 800-863-3039, www.orleansinn.com.

THE CENTERBOARD INN  Nantucket
THE CENTERBOARD GUEST HOUSE  Nantucket Escape to the island for a three-night Thanksgiving getaway at a charming bed and breakfast. The package, which is offered Nov. 23-27, includes welcome wine and cheese, breakfast and afternoon tea, and Thanksgiving dinner at award-winning Oran Mor Bistro and Bar (alcohol not included). From $585 for two in a queen-bedded room with private bathroom. Centerboard Inn – 8 Chester Street, Nantucket. 877-228-2811, www.centerboardinn.com. –Susan Spencer

Savor the Quiet Season

It happens all the time. The question is usually raised by a snowbird who’s never sat through a December nor’easter. They furrow their brow, and maybe they conjure a vision of a “closed” sign hanging from the Sagamore Bridge starting in November. What is Cape Cod like in the winter? they ask.

The truth is, it’s pretty wonderful. There’s a bare shoreline full of migrating birds and wordless beauty waiting to be explored. There are great accommodations at a fraction of the high-season cost. There are the crowds who witness winter’s perennial rite of passage, the lighting of the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown the day before Thanksgiving. There are droves of starry-eyed families climbing aboard the Cape Cod Central Railroad bound for the North Pole. There are a million reasons to bundle up and brave the elements, and there are a million reasons to cozy up inside.

When you spend every summer sharing the sunshine with the rest of the world, winter is a welcome vacation. Here’s a look at some of the things that make this season so special—and a few suggestions to make the most of this restful time.

Check out more articles to savor the quiet season:

Beyond Safe Shores

Beyond Safe Shores

Most women of the Victorian era rarely traveled or knew the hardships of life at sea. Yet at age 22, just three years after her marriage, Hannah Rebecca Burgess had crossed the equator 11 times, helped her husband transport cargo from ports all over the world, and had learned to navigate clipper ships. Looking back, what is perhaps most remarkable about Hannah Rebecca Burgess is how she made the story of her life a lasting part of Sandwich history. Read more…