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The Horse-Mad Hatter of Harwich

Michael McLaughlin & Tom Steinmann When you step into Sally Faith Steinmann’s studio, you know instantly that an artist is at work. Poster decorated walls, depicting everything from landscape paintings to Bob Dylan, lead you through a second-story Harwich apartment. The entire studio is shelved with stacks of multi-colored fabric. Amidst the organized chaos are . . . hats. Hats, glorious hats, in all shapes, styles, and sizes.

From the corner, Billie Holiday’s voice crackles out of a stereo. Sunshine flows in. Sally fits in perfectly with the room, which seems to reverberate with creative energy. The artist behind Maggie Mae Designs Custom Millinery®, Sally has long had a passion for the rare art of hat making. “I have found my inspiration over a lifetime,” she says. As a child, she fashioned tiny hats for her stuffed animals. After graduating from Wellesley College with degrees in women’s studies and psychology, Sally yearned for creative inspiration. That year, on a whim her mother presented her with a large yarn hat that she shrank in the washing machine with the idea of creating a smaller felt hat. Sally was intrigued, thinking, “This is a hat that needs something to make it sparkle, something to make it special.” She did just that, made a few more, and in 1998, began to sell designs to Chatham’s The Artful Hand Gallery. When she saw how popular the hats were, she realized that she had found her calling.

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Festivals, Feasts, & Fun

There’s a Cape Cod myth that says Labor Day is the end of things. Come September 6, the cottages empty, shops are shuttered, the water turns cold, the weather becomes harsh, tourists leave for good, and Cape Codders withdraw into an off-season of silence.But nothing could be further from the truth. Autumn on Cape Cod means the once traffic-heavy roads open up for a sun-drenched cruise underneath the foliage. Shop doors are mostly wide open; you might even catch an end-of-season sale or two. Dinner and room reservations are much easier to book. And right through September, the water is often warmer than it is in June. Villages from Falmouth to Provincetown—the Islands, too—are buzzing with activity, a full season of events blooming under the changing colors of the leaves. Whatever your interest—a scenic marathon run through Falmouth, an exciting Vineyard competition to catch the biggest fish, or a weekend in Wellfleet dedicated to delicious fresh oysters—there’s plenty of attractions after Labor Day. It’s a familiar refrain to year-rounders, and it’s one worth repeating: Autumn is the best time to visit the Cape and Islands. Read more…

Delectable Dining

Ashley Owen For tasty eating and cozy seating, visit the Beacon Room in Orleans. Hardwood floors and ceilings and an intimate dining area give this restaurant the feel of both a rustic home and an elegant, top-notch restaurant. Owner Kate Roche has created a menu that appeals to diners looking for gourmet sustenance served in hearty helpings. Start out with succulent Bacon-Wrapped Scallops ($9.95) or the Gorgonzola, Walnut, and Sun-Dried Cranberry Salad ($10.95), and enjoy ultra-fresh ingredients prepared with real expertise. In addition to a fantastic entrée menu, the Beacon Room has a satisfying roster of weekly specials. Favorites include the zesty Seafood Fra Diavlo ($25.95), made with clams, calamari, shrimp, and scallops, the Mushroom and Goat Cheese-Topped Angel Hair ($17.95), or their savory Roasted Half Duck ($24.95). The restaurant also possesses an exceptional wine list, an ever-changing dessert selection, a full bar, and local coffee offerings. All year round, the Beacon Room is an ideal dining destination.

The Beacon Room, 23 West Road, Orleans 508-255-2211; www.beaconroom.com

A Nurturing Novel

Life October 2010 Nantucket novelist Nancy Thayer offers an enchanting read with her latest novel, Beachcombers ($25). After losing their mother at a young age, the three Fox sisters—Abbie, Emma, and Lily—went their separate ways. They reunite on their home of Nantucket for a life-changing summer. In a series of mishaps, adventures, and endeavors, the sisters find themselves overcoming their differences and discovering the happiness they had been searching for. Thayer’s emotionally charged writing brings readers to the characters’ world on the island, sprinkling romance, humor, and depth onto each page. Visit www.nancythayer.com for more information.

Food That Fulfills

Randi Baird Stepping into the 41-year-old Lobster Claw in Orleans, a quintessential Cape dining scene fills the senses. Take a seat in one of their three dining rooms, each complete with fish netting on the ceiling and marine-style artwork on the walls, and prepare yourself for a hearty meal that is sure to satisfy. Begin with a cup of creamy New England clam chowder ($4.95) or a bowl of mussels, served with a hearty and delicious garlic broth ($10.95)—both preludes to the fantastic entrées to follow. Whether boiled, fried, or stuffed, the restaurant delivers the kind of superb lobster that the Cape is known for. Their expertise does not stop there, however—try the haddock, fried to crispy perfection, served with fries and the restaurant’s sweet yet tangy coleslaw ($17.95). With such a large selection of tasty surf and turf, coupled with great children’s specials and exceptionally friendly service, it is no wonder why the Lobster Claw is a great Cape classic for the entire family.

A Self-determined Story

Life August 2010 Settle down with The Captain’s Widow of Sandwich: Self-Invention and the Life of Hannah Rebecca Burgess, 1834-1917 ($45) and acquaint yourself with some captivating local history. Author Megan Taylor Shockley delves into the true story of the spouse of a Sandwich sea captain. Digging into primary sources, Shockley masterfully crafts a portrait of the widow, unearthing her resourceful character’s fascinating story. As a woman who commandeered her dying husband’s ship single-handedly and refused several second marriage proposals after his death, Burgess defied the traditional gender roles of her day. Despite this, she seemingly lived quite comfortably within the social constructs of the Victorian era. The biography opens a window into the complexity of the Victorian Age and the drama of Cape Cod’s famous seafaring past. For more details, visit nyupress.org.