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 email@example.com.
—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
When asked what I wanted for Father’s Day, I said, “Thank you, but I really don’t need anything.” I don’t have room in my closet for another shirt. Of course, my wife Judy loves to suggest we make room in the closet by throwing away my favorite old clothes. Our sons, Josh and Max, agree with Judy on the subject.
So I said, “I know what I want. Let’s all spend one afternoon together hanging the lobster trap buoys back up on the boathouse where they belong.” Judy liked the idea, but the boys looked at me as if I were about as much fun as a barrel of monkeys.
Our collection of lobster trap buoys had been sitting in a heap since they were removed in order to paint the outside of the boathouse. We call it the boathouse because that is where we store our life jackets, anchor lines, boat soap, flairs, whistles, horns, you name it. The “Lady Carline” life saving ring, from our former motor-sailer, hangs prominently on the back wall.
We have called the lobster trap markers, “beach treasures,” ever since Josh and Max have been old enough to walk the beach and help find them. For years family vacations regularly included beach walks on Cuttyhunk and shoreline searches of nearby islands in a small motor skiff. Right after a storm was always the best time for collecting. How fondly I recall the peopleless, rock-strewn shorelines with the constant rushing and crushing sounds of the surf. We would respond with delight to come across a lobster trap buoy, not tied to a trap, and yet in good enough shape to be worth bringing home. We were heedless, heartfelt, and headstrong.
Technically speaking, existing regulations indicated that any wash-a-shore or otherwise found fishing gear should be left alone, in hopes the original owner might find it. I say, “What are the chances of that happening?” Well, in fact, one lobsterman I met a few years back told me he had seen our boathouse collection from his boat and that I had one of his buoys hanging up there. Knowing the regulations, I immediately offered to return it to him if he would tell me which one it was. He said, “Oh, no thanks, I like seeing my buoy hanging in your collection.”
To me the lobster trap buoys represent more than fond memories of family times at the shore. They are symbols of Cape Cod’s proud sea-faring heritage. They remind me of the hard working men and women who have fished and shell-fished New England waters for centuries, that we might enjoy the bounty of the sea. I have done just enough lobstering to appreciate the work involved. I feel that if I am lucky enough to live by the water, it is appropriate to pay this symbolic respect to the Cape’s seafaring way of life.
So, we did spend the afternoon on Father’s Day, just the four of us, hanging our beach treasures all around the boathouse. It was a fun-loving project, after which Joshua photographed the boathouse for me. As the boys get older, now 13 and 16, family time becomes ever more precious.
Also, I did receive a few small gifts for Father’s Day. I am hard to shop for, but they know I enjoy books of quips and quotes. So they found one for me entitled Are You A Miserable Old Bastard? Thus far, I am enjoying reading it. Tells me something.
P.S. “The memories we collect and give
brighten our lives as long as we live.” -Unknown