My first visit to Cape Cod was in 1955 when I was eight years old. For two weeks in August, my family rented an older three-story “cottage” in the village of Old Craigville within walking distance of Craigville Beach in Centerville. The house was right across the street from tiny Lake Elizabeth, with a small dock where my brother Mike and I would go fishing. Of course, we were not allowed to go on the dock without my parents’ permission. My younger brother John went without permission and I reported this to my mother. John was angry with me and told me I didn’t have to do that. I told him that just because I had a lot of freckles he didn’t have to call me “a speckled hen.”
Old Craigville was magical. On the village green, there were organized volleyball games in the evening. There was also a penny candy store, a tiny post office, and a gracious old multistory inn. My grandmother and great aunts stayed at the inn part of the time we were there, and they would take us kids out to breakfast at the inn. All of this was only a short walk from Craigville Beach where we spent most days. A wonderful, tree-canopied walking path ran between the cottage connecting the village green to a huge bluff overlooking the beach. At night, this walkway was lit by the glowing lamps of bordering cottages, alive with laughter and music.
As the family grew, we spent more time on the Cape and the older children, of whom I am one, got summer jobs at Craigville Beach. We were lifeguards, short-order cooks, waitresses, and parking lot attendants. Evenings were busy with ping-pong in the game room, touch football on the beach, and visits to the 1856 Country Story in Centerville and Four Seas Ice Cream parlor. I learned to sail, won some races, and started a business teaching sailing and renting out small sailboats. In 1964, I was being paid five dollars an hour to go sailing. Maybe I should have stuck with that.
During my college years, I learned how to chart a course and handle a sloop large enough for cruising. A few friends and I chartered a boat out of Mattapoisett and sailed to Nantucket, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Menemsha, and Cuttyhunk. I knew then that eventually I would have to have my own boat and that the Cape and Islands would always be a very important part of my life. Of course, the first cruise was not without incident. The only crew member that could not swim fell overboard when we were moving at a pretty good clip coming out of Vineyard Haven Harbor. Fortunately, he was wearing a life jacket, and we did get him back aboard.
Right after college, I bought a Hobie Cat Catamaran sailboat. It was only 14 feet long and had a trampoline for a deck, connecting two pontoons. Heavens to Murgatroyd was that thing fast! We would trailer to Town Cove in Orleans and sail out of the channel to the ocean facing Nauset Beach. We would sail in close to the beach, and then with the southwest wind at our backs, we would turn out and head into the oncoming waves. The best part was when the entire boat would fly off of a wave and completely leave the surface of the water. We wore wetsuits because it was a wet ride, and thankfully by that time the same crew member had learned to swim.
In 1976, I became a year-round Cape Codder and in 1979 founded Cape Cod Life magazine in hopes of sharing my love of the Cape and Islands with many readers. During the 80s, I met my wife, Judy, with whom I have been most fortunate to share my love of the Cape and Islands ever since. We were married on our beloved island of Cuttyhunk in June 1990. Our boys Josh and Max were born in ’94 and ’97, and we built a new home in ’99. The boys have grown up on the water and I just love to see them both handling boats so well. They sail, they motor boat, and they navigate, in and out of the fog. And, they can both swim.
“The memories we collect and give Brighten our lives as long as we live.”
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher
“Have you had any fun lately?” That is what my brother Connor had the nerve to ask me when we sat down for lunch together. His question gave me cause for pause. I needed a little time to think about what fun means to me nowadays. Operating a small publishing company amidst the economic conditions of recent years has been, shall we say, pre-occupying. So, I thought about his question. Read more…
Following my first long weekend on Cuttyhunk I reported to the Cape Cod Life staff that, “Now, I am permanently relaxed.” Ohh, the ssoundz of the ssurff are soo sooothing.
On the evening of the day we arrived, my wife, Judy, and I drove our golf cart to the highest point on the island just before sunset. Along with maybe a half dozen other sunset devotees, we inhaled, absorbed and lingered in the magical, pastel atmosphere enshrouding the island. From Buzzards Bay to Block Island Sound in the west, all the way up to the Cape Cod Canal, and then down to the Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard in the east, the water was calm, the sky was clear, and the colors were soft.
In the morning accompanied by our black Lab, Sam, Judy and I walk on Barge’s Beach, from the MV/Cuttyhunk ferry dock to the Canapitsit Channel. There is always a significant tidal current running through this narrow passageway separating Cuttyhunk from the island of Nashawena. Both shores are lined with rocks and the large rolling and crashing waves at the entrance to the channel have proved at times to be treacherous for passing mariners. However, the salt-laden, energy charged atmosphere is both enticing and enthralling. Seen from a slight distance a spray mist billows above the rocky shore awash in surging surf.
Toward the end of the summer day, I find my way to a secluded spot for a refreshing dip. I don’t actually swim; I prefer to float or stand still in water deep enough to cool me down and feel myself decompress. I am reminded of my father; when I was young, this late-in-the-day ritual was one of his also.
On the evening of the full moon, I relished the moonrise over Menemsha across Vineyard Sound. Everything was very peaceful and the lighted moonbeam on the sound reached seven miles from Martha’s Vineyard to the coast of Cuttyhunk. It is unusual when we experience a few minutes of such natural beauty that it occurs to us that we don’t want it to end.
Following long weekends my son Max, 14, would go home with me because we both had to return to work. Max has been enjoying his job at the Cataumet Light Mini Golf and Bumper Boats. I told Max I really appreciated his help going back and forth to Cuttyhunk. He is very capable and very comfortable with everything aboard our boat, including navigating in a heavy fog.
I was proud to see my 17-year-old son, Joshua’s, photograph of the Long Point Lighthouse in Provincetown Harbor as the front cover of our August issue. When Editor Susan Dewey and Art Director Chrissy Caskey first showed me the photo for the cover, I did not realize that Josh was the photographer. To see “The Cape Cod National Seashore Celebrates 50 Years” featured on the cover and learn that Josh took the cover photo created a special moment for me.
Although I was just finishing grammar school at the time, my love affair with Cape Cod had begun and I was a fan of President Kennedy when he signed the national park legislation in 1961. I believe that the National Seashore has made an enormous contribution to the preservation of fragile beauty on Cape Cod. Since our first issue in 1979, Cape Cod Life has attempted to contribute to people’s awareness of and appreciation of the fragile beauty of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. So, in our 32nd year of publishing we feature the National Seashore 50th and my son provides the cover photo. It felt to me like a family milestone.
Speaking of family, as this issue goes to press, my sister, Mary, and Anthony Dorato are planning to be married on August 13th. My whole family is very happy for both Mary and Anthony. It took Mary years to find Anthony, someone as considerate, as caring and as intelligent as herself.
Judy’s and my boys, Josh, 17, and Max, 14, had just finished school with a few days left before having to report for their summer jobs. Judy and I thought that, as a family, it would be a great time to take a break. The boys agreed, so away we went. We are most fortunate in having all of the Cape and Islands so readily accessible for last minute planning.
The day before we departed was actually the first day of summer. It was hot and sunny and the ocean was flat calm. Passengers were numerous, but the ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard was as smooth as riding on a cloud. It was very quiet and as the mainland of the Cape slipped away behind us, the perfectly still water stretched to the horizon in three directions. The scene was surreal and I could feel myself relaxing. We arrived in Oak Bluffs. I just love the whole setting of the steamship ferry pier across the road from the expansive Ocean Park. The gingerbread houses are like colorful pearls in a necklace around the great green park with the band gazebo.
So much of Martha’s Vineyard just seems to be laid out naturally to welcome visitors. The harbors are indicative of what you find in each area. Vineyard Haven Harbor is very wide with lighthouses on the eastern and western shores as you enter. Year-round, Vineyard Haven sees the most ferry traffic and Main Street is only one block from the harbor. Concentrated for visitors’ convenience is a marvelous selection of unique retail shops, galleries, and eateries.
The next opening in the shoreline is Oak Bluffs Harbor. Although smaller in size, it is easy to enter and well protected in rough weather. Architecturally fascinating, old-style summer homes and hotels abut the harbor, and the pier is sprinkled with visitor-oriented shops and open-air restaurants. Within two blocks of the harbor so many small businesses offer so much fun—what better village could be home to the magical Flying Horses Carousel?
Up island, you find Aquinnah, home to the Gay Head Lighthouse, the authentic fishing village of Menemsha, and the tiny harbor by the same name.
The entrance to Edgartown Harbor is classic with a lighthouse on your right and a private beach club on your left. The stately hotels and summer homes dot the shoreline and create a beautiful skyline along the expansive harbor. The shops, galleries, and eateries are all top-notch. It was Martha’s Vineyard Restaurant Week, and we were lucky to get the last table available at L’Etoile Restaurant, the best of the best.
By way of the On Time ferry, we visited Chappaquiddick to see my brother Mike and his wife, Cathy, at their summer home. Along with their nephew, Keaton Beams, we strolled to the bluff overlooking Katama Bay, all the while the boys tossing their football in a game of keep-away. Mike pointed out how the barrier beach break had widened and was in fact migrating eastward toward Wasque Point. As Mike and I admired the awesome beauty in his little corner of the world, we agreed that, “Where the land ends, LIFE begins.”
To contribute my fair share to the local economy, I did some shopping. I bought four hand-painted wall signs. For my wife, Judy, and Sam, her black Lab, I found, “LIFE’S DRAB WITHOUT A LAB.” Also, I found signs for three Cape Cod Life team members. Marianna Lynch was visiting her first-born grandchildren that week. Her son Ryan and daughter-in-law Eleanor had very recently begun their family with triplets. Marianna’s sign reads, “GRANDCHILDREN ARE GOD’S REWARD FOR NOT KILLING YOUR OWN KIDS.” This year, Liz Flynn was recognized by the MSPCA for her generous volunteer work. Liz’s sign reads, “THIS HOME IS BLESSED WITH LOVE, LAUGHTER, FRIENDSHIP, AND A CAT.” Finally, for the office wall of our ever-so-competent Associate Publisher and Editor, Susan Dewey, I found, “I’D AGREE WITH YOU, BUT THEN WE’D BOTH BE WRONG.”
Our trip to the Vineyard was relaxing, entertaining, and fun. May your summer be as well.
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher
P.S. Just as we were about to go to press, Editor Susan Dewey and Creative Director Chrissy Caskey showed me six potential cover photos for this issue. We finally chose the beautiful Rising Stars image that you see here. Susan surprised me by telling me at that point that my son, Josh, shot this photo last summer. What a proud moment for me! As we all know, summer days on Cape Cod have a way of shaping your life for years to come.
Is there anything more graceful than a pair of full-grown white swans slowly moving across flat calm water? Or, a couple of Snowy Egret standing still in the shallow corner of a tidal cove? The Egret wait for tiny fish to unsuspectingly pass by, and then fast as you can snap your fingers, they snatch themselves a seafood sampler. Early and late in the season, majestic Great Blue Heron frequent the cove and surrounding shoreline. All the while osprey circle high and watch, then dive-bomb, splash, snatch, and carry wiggling little pogy back to mama in the nest.
About an hour after the tide begins to ebb, folks start fishing from the shore along the channel. The slightly warmer tidal waters up in the coves and bays carry food and run through the channel, then the harbor and out to open water in Buzzards Bay. Those who are fishing stand so still for so long with their feet planted solidly on the ground they know while casting their bait into the unpredictable world under water.
When the tide gets low, shell fishermen emerge and comb the shores and shallows. Warm-weather recreational clamming is one thing, but when I watch commercial shell fishermen working year-round, I never complain about the price of an oyster.
Low tide is also my favorite time for walking the beach around the island, which is adjacent to the channel. Owned and protected by the local Bourne Conservation Trust, and very reachable by small boat, walkers, swimmers, clammers, and sunbathers young and old frolic at the water’s edge. In the off-season, or the off-hours when the beaches are deserted, my wife, Judy, brings our black Lab, Sam. It is hard to tell who loves it more, us or Sam. Judy collects pretty shells and sparkles them up as Christmas tree ornaments. Plus, she finds marvelous beach glass. Writer Katy Trip likens all of us to beach glass, “as we lose our sharp edges among the currents of life, develop inner beauty and become someone to cherish midst the sands of time.”
On the south side, this little island faces Megansett Harbor in North Falmouth. The pier, boat ramp, yacht club, and beach beyond the jetty form the heart of this graceful old community in the summertime. From sailing lessons and club races to ice cream cones and an evening stroll to the pier at sunset, the days begin and end at the harbor.
Our sons, Max and Josh, now 14 and 17, usually launch boats from the ramp in Megansett Harbor. It is such a pleasure to see them so smoothly, and so independently, maneuver on the water. From the sea conditions and marine forecast to knowing “the rules of the road” and “boating courtesy,” the wonderful world of water presents an opportunity for home-schooling and responsible behavior.
Just outside Megansett Harbor, the Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse stands proud at the head of Buzzards Bay. Just south of the lighthouse, one finds the naturally beautiful Elizabeth Islands and the Woods Hole channel leading to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the south side of Cape Cod. Just north of the lighthouse one finds the Cape Cod Canal leading to Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and the coast of Maine. From here one could go around the world.
When I need quiet time to think, I get where land, sea, and sky all meet in proper perspective, and the world just makes a little more sense to me.
I hope your summertime is delightful.
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher
One sure sign of spring is the return of the osprey. You first observe them circling high above a tidal cove surrounded by marshlands and streaming tidal eddies. Maybe the reason we see them early is the importance of their local territories. After being gone for months, they return to the exact same location year after year. They pick the choicest areas for their nests, overlooking harbors, bays, and beaches. Maybe the importance of a water view determines how early in the season one returns to the Cape. They ardently protect their turf from neighboring osprey and other visiting species.
The Cape & Islands lie in an Atlantic seaboard path for hundreds of species of North American migratory birds. Headed northeast, they leave New York City on their left, and see stretching out before them like a road map: Long Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Chappaquiddick, Muskeget, Tuckernuck and Nantucket, and then Monomoy Island in Chatham.
At this location, most turn left and head north along our Atlantic-facing coast. Of course, many stop near the Chatham Lighthouse. It overlooks the barrier beach break and the fertile fishing grounds off the Chatham Fish Pier, stretching up into Pleasant Bay and Little Pleasant Bay. At the Orleans-Eastham town line, there is a break in the shoreline leading into Nauset Harbor and Town Cove. The tidal flows in this area are significant, flushing and feeding the marshes up into Salt Pond Bay in Eastham. Wonderful seafood supplies can be found here for weary travelers.
High above Nauset Light Beach and leaving the lighthouse in Eastham on their left, the National Seashore Headquarters and beautiful beaches stretch out before them, again, like a road map: LeCount Hollow, Whitecrest Beach, Cahoon Hollow, and Newcomb Hollow. This stretch of Wellfleet provides fertile feeding grounds again, from down at the shoreline popular with surfcasters up the beach to the hillside dune cliffs, popular with beachcombers of all species. I would say particularly those looking for the lobster salad roll at The Beachcomber restaurant at Cahoon Hollow Beach.
Continuing the migratory pattern northeast, travelers pass the Highland Lighthouse in Truro, then stop for a snack in the Provincelands, dunes, beaches, and marshlands of Provincetown, before heading Down East toward the coast of Maine. Of course, some smart birds take a shortcut up Buzzards Bay to the Cape Cod Canal.
After leaving Block Island in Rhode Island, they watch for the Buzzards Bay Light and Weather Tower marking the southern boundary of Buzzards Bay. Sharp left, head north, and skirt the pristine Elizabeth Islands: Cuttyhunk, Penikese, Nashawena, Pasque, and Naushon before crossing the tidal turbulent channel of Woods Hole adjacent to the seaside village of the same name.
From Falmouth up to the Cape Cod Canal, the beaches and marshes invite them to rest over at such wonderful stops as Quissett Harbor, Chappaquoit Beach, Old Silver Beach, Scraggy Neck, Wing’s Neck, and Mashnee Island. Those headed further north then follow the Cape Cod Canal to Cape Cod Bay and the majestic Manomet Bluffs in Plymouth.
Unquestionably in the minority, some species prefer the western shore of Buzzards Bay. From Horseneck Beach in Westport all the way to Onset Bay in Wareham, they find resting and nesting spots by bays and beaches. From Padanaram, they fly over the hurricane barrier wall at New Bedford Harbor and the peninsulas of Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, and Marion. It is beautiful shoreline, and I guess they find it less crowded there. It is probably because they do not know what they are missing, but I’ve heard that some of them don’t even fly as far as the Cape Cod Canal.
I believe there is a little bit of osprey in all of us.
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher
This being the 200th edition of Cape Cod Life, I found myself thinking a little about our first issue. It was 1978 and I was meeting with graphic designer Dick Vecchione in his office upstairs over Puritan Cape Cod on Main Street in Hyannis. He was showing me a variety of typefaces for the Cape Cod Life front cover logo. I said, “I think we should use something very traditional.” It seemed to me appropriate for how readers feel about Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
Selecting the cover photo has been fun from day one. Although nowadays, I must admit I am sometimes out-voted by the staff. That’s what I get for having such talented team members creating and producing the issues. In this issue we have included a number of covers that have been very popular with our readers, including a few from the very early years.
The annual return to the Cape and Islands is very traditional for so many. Open the cottage, coffee, the local paper, maybe lunch in the village; visit the harbor or beach, drop by a few of your favorite stores and be greeted like an old friend. Weather permitting, we may launch a small boat, play a round of golf, or take a long walk on the beach. Evening time may well find us at one of our “favorite spots” for cocktails and/or dinner. Once again, “Welcome back.”
The Cape and Islands are blessed with many “favorite spots,” as proven by our Cape Cod Life readers’ choices of “The Best of the Cape & Islands” every June now for decades. One of which, very popular with our readers, also for decades, is The Chart Room in Cataumet. Talk about tradition, the season begins and ends for many when all of our “favorite spots” open and close. Judy’s and my boys, Josh, 17, and Max, 14, have never known a summer when after dinner did not include a stop for candy at Karen and Tom Woods’ Periwinkles Gift Shop adjacent to The Chart Room.
Dave Jarvis founded The Chart Room in 1972. Story has it the main room is a conversion of an old barge. At the heart of the room is a baby grand piano. I don’t know what year Dave got Eddie Scheer, piano player extraordinaire, to start playing, but I remember Eddie first playing at The Silver Lounge in North Falmouth. When Eddie gets going, the room comes alive! One tradition in my family is my mother’s visit to Cataumet, always carefully planned to include an evening at The Chart Room when Eddie Scheer is playing.
I am sorry to report that Dave Jarvis died in April of this year. He was a charmer, is dearly missed by many, but his legacy lives as his family continues to gloriously carry on the strong tradition of The Chart Room. A reception following Dave’s funeral was held at Bill Zammer’s Coonamessett Inn in Falmouth. This was the perfect location for this occasion, particularly when you think of our personal traditions. Not only were so many of Dave’s customer friends present, but also his peers. Well-respected restaurateurs showed up—for example, Bill Weaner, founder of The Silver Lounge in North Falmouth.
Dr. John Manning, the youngest 90-year-old I have the honor to know, is father of my friend Jack Manning, and he played golf for many years with Dave Jarvis at The Pocasset Country Club. I am told that when Dave and Dr. Manning began playing less frequently, and maybe nine holes instead of 18, The Pocasset Country Club introduced a new tiered-back membership level tailored to the playing times of these two gentlemen and their peers.
So, as we revisit our traditional “favorite spots” this year, let’s remember Dave and those who make it all possible for us. Just think of the wonderful memories of so many happy times for so many years. As the saying goes, “The memories we collect and give, brighten our lives as long as we live.”
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher
The magazine you are reading is the 200th issue of Cape Cod LIFE since it first hit the streets in 1979. Our success over the years has been influenced by our wonderful photography and, in particular, our cover photos. Choosing the cover image is something I have always enjoyed. Traditionally, I have asked the editor and the art director to present some images for review. All employees in the office are invited to view the images. I keep my opinion to myself, all the while making mental notes of what I call the “ooozz and aahhzz meter.” We have found that this process helps please our readers, who are the ultimate judges of every cover. Do you remember some of these covers? Let us know your personal favorites! Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher Read more…
In celebration of announcing subscriptions to our digital editions, readers have the opportunity to win $100 vouchers and coupons when ordering print and/or digital subscriptions from October 1 to December 13. See page 13 in this issue or go to www.capecodlife.com/subscribe for more information. All this from an old-fashioned publisher who, only in recent years, has embraced the concept of e-mail. Now our web site is available in 50 languages. I can’t read even half that many languages.
Starting with this issue, my wife, Judy, is providing editorial help to Cape Cod Life in the areas of cooking and recipes. Before our boys Josh, now 16, and Max, 13, were born, Judy was food editor for Cape Cod Life. In this issue, the focus is on cranberries—find some delicious holiday recipes starting on page 99. And then for more recipes, once again, go to www.capecodlife.com/recipes. Judy loves to cook, collect, and organize recipes, and she is very good at all of those things. In planning the photo shoot for the cranberry recipes, Judy decided we needed a holiday floral centerpiece at the last minute. She called her longtime friend Allen at Allen’s House of Flowers in Falmouth. At 9 a.m. the next morning, Allen provided the floral design featured on the cover of this issue. Allen is very talented and very helpful. Thanks, Allen.
While this issue is at press in early October, Judy, Josh, Max, and I have plans to spend two nights at Race Point in Provincetown. We will stay in The Whistle House in the dunes by the Race Point Lighthouse. My son, Joshua, will be photographing the lighthouse, the dunes, the nearby Life-Saving Station if it is open, and our visit in general. The Race Point editorial and photos will appear in Cape Cod Life in the first half of 2011. Yes, and on-line, probably in 50 languages. Joshua also shot the color photography in the Pages of History article starting on page 42 in this issue.
While we are in Provincetown, I expect Max will focus more on the retail shops, restaurants, and businesses. He is very much a businessman and always inquiring about which businesses advertise in Cape Cod Life Publications.
Speaking of Provincetown, my nephew Christopher Shortsleeve, John’s and Susan’s oldest son, is an aspiring writer. Chosen from hundreds of applicants nationwide, Chris is one of eight writers in residence this winter at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. From October until May, he will focus on his writing. It’s a wonderful program. I’ve asked Chris to write an article for Cape Cod Life describing the program and his experience there, which finishes in the spring of 2011.
The year 2010 has been a busy one for Cape Cod Life Publications, our first year in our new office located in Mashpee Commons. We’ve been delighted with this change, the offices are very welcoming, and the neighboring shops and restaurants at Mashpee Commons create a New England village flavor which I find very comforting. The local economy certainly benefited from the warm summer weather of 2010. Hopefully our restaurateurs, innkeepers, and shopkeepers will have a profitable holiday season. I look forward to the village festivals and shoppers’ strolls.
We will kick off 2011 by converting the first regularly scheduled issue of Cape Cod Life to a special edition entitled Cape Cod GARDENS. We will be showcasing this exciting new regional publication at the Boston Flower Show in March. Hope to see you there. If you can’t make it, e-mail me and I will tell you where to find it on-line in 50 languages!
Brian Shortsleeve, President & Publisher
I am always awake early and I love the quiet from around five to six in the morning. Early one day this summer, on the island of Cuttyhunk, I jotted down a few notes.
Looking east up the Elizabeth Island chain, the sunrise over Nashawena was a reddish and pink line extending sideways in both directions peeking out below a fairly solid cloud cover. In the distance the silhouette of Nashawena’s high hillside shore was awash in the sun’s reflection on rolling and breaking waves, mist and haze. The clouds above the line of dawn light graduated from pink to white, then grey and mackerel with a few holes showing blue sky overhead.
Vineyard Sound was very calm for Vineyard Sound, Cuttyhunk Harbor was perfectly still, and Buzzards Bay was very flat also. The only boat moving was the dark outline of a fishing boat making its way up Vineyard Sound a few miles off shore.
The only constant sound was that of small waves surfing over rocks and up the shore and then washing and tumbling small stones over each other and back down the beach. Then, in the distance a tall-masted sail boat exited the harbor with ghostly quiet progress, passing close by the red bell buoy marking the channel. The boat’s wake rocked the bell buoy and the resounding clang echoed over all the surrounding still waters.
Looking southeast in the early morning light I could still see the Gay Head Lighthouse flashing on Martha’s Vineyard, about seven or eight miles away. High on the cliffs the light alternates red and white, red and white. To the left, the coastline of the Vineyard drops down to meet the sea at the entrance to Menemsha Harbor and fishing village, with its seemingly endless tidal coves, ponds, and creeks. Looking to the right of Martha’s Vineyard, just south of the Gay Head Lighthouse, the island of No Man’s Land is visible on the horizon. This tiny island has its own fascinating history of fishermen, explorers, and pirates.
Meanwhile, back here on Cuttyhunk, folks are beginning to stir. Comprising a Rockwellean sort of village image, the mostly modest, mostly summer, homes all with decks and porches are sprinkled from the shore up the hill, all facing the water. On the road along the shore an early dog walker startles and scares away a deer. A few minutes later a couple out for a walk linger by the wild blackberry bushes; they chat and help themselves to a snack. The houses all seem quiet, very few people up and about. In almost perfect unison, all the sailboats in the harbor gently turn on their moorings and point into a slight, but developing southwesternly breeze.
Soon my wife Judy will be awake and we will walk up to the Cuttyhunk Bass Fishing Club Bed and Breakfast. Just a few minutes away, this charmingly historic (late 1800’s) establishment serves delicious breakfasts on its open air porch, perched high on a bluff overlooking Vineyard Sound. The surf is constantly rushing and rumbling on the rocks along the shore below the bluff. Lawn chars invite guests to savor the scene. A little later, we will walk the shore out to the Canapitsit Channel, collecting beach glass with Judy’s best friend, Sam, our black Labrador.
I know that today, Max, our thirteen-year-old is taking the boat and a few friends over to Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard. We do need to be careful to keep an eye on the weather, but Max is a very competent skipper. Joshua, our sixteen-year-old, is working for the MV Cuttyhunk, the ferry back and forth to the island from New Bedford. Being a Saturday, there are two runs, making for a long day in the summer sun. When not working, Josh will take the boat the length of Buzzards Bay and pick up one or more fiends in Marion. Josh also is a very competent skipper.
Never a dull moment on Cuttyhunk. But my favorite time of day will always be dawn. A friend once suggested to me that “the ability to sleep late is a sign of a clean conscience.”
Brian Shortsleeve, President & Publisher