I have this fantasy that someday we will move out of our old Cape into a green house—not the kind where you grow flowers, although that would be fine with me, too—but an environmentally efficient house where we could live a sustainable life. This fantasy occurs often in the winter months when the floors of our house are very cold (no insulation), the wind whips through ancient doors, and the furnace never seems to stop running. Read more…
- Posted in Susan Dewey's Blog
Do you know the name of this island?
Lying 14 miles off of the mainland and measuring roughly two and a half miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, this island is the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands. This island’s location at the entrance to the Vineyard Sound, just 10 miles from the coast of Cape Cod, makes it a favorite destination for sailors from around the world. The harbor here has a 10-foot draft at mean low tide and is protected on two sides by stone breakwaters. The shape of the island is like that of a lobster with one claw broken off. Read more…
- Posted in People
The first thing to consider when starting your own seedlings (which usually take around six weeks to be ready for planting in the garden) is light. To sprout and flourish, seedlings need lots of sunlight, such as that found in a bright Southern exposure window, or steady constant light provided by fluorescent lamps. Read more…
Starting your own vegetables from seed is time consuming—but worth the work—for Cape Cod gardens.
The pleasure of vegetable gardening never grows old. Even on Cape Cod—where variable soil conditions range from sandy to solid clay and erratic weather patterns run from humid summers to cold storm-battered autumns—there’s nothing like growing your own tomatoes, beans, brussels sprouts, lettuce, or whatever vegetable suits your fancy.
The gardening season on Cape Cod and the Islands is longer than in many other New England regions. The surrounding ocean warms things up every summer, which is why this area has a hardiness designation of Zone 7. Zone 7 stretches from Cape Cod to Georgia and includes places like Charlotte, North Carolina. Read more…
The spring season has a subtle presence on Cape Cod. Surrounded by cool waters, the land warms up at a glacial pace. While inland friends begin to talk about picnics, baseball games, and sunbathing, we are still bundled up in fleece, trudging along our beaches with wind-burned faces. Still, there are days in March and April when the sun feels so warm that you can lay down on the sand and almost believe you are sunbathing . . . so long as you keep your parka on.
There is an austere beauty to the beaches and the marshlands at this time of year. The first week of March as my husband and I walked along Centerville’s Long Beach, the light on the ocean was so bright, we had to put on sunglasses. The marshes glowed gold and it was warm enough that our 15-year-old Lab dove into the ocean after a flock of Mallards.
We said to each other that we are lucky to live here, natural riches all around us. Sometimes when I look at the Cape landscape in the winter or early spring—the spiky marsh grasses, stunted oaks, twisted pines, scrubby cranberry bushes and prickly cedars, I think of what Mayflower pilgrim William Bradford wrote about his first sight of the Cape on a December day in 1620.
Bradford described the Cape as “a hideous dessert (sic) wilderness . . . of a wild and savage hue.” I think that description is still apt, even though we try to tame this unruly place with our manicured lawns and perfect gardens. Still, we all know that nature can blow away all our orderly impulses in a heartbeat. After every winter storm our beaches and marshes are altered, sometimes dramatically. That is what happened this winter to the shell tree on Long Beach.
For years we have admired the shell tree, a scraggly, long gone cedar festooned with shells by walkers. The first time I saw it, I thought something magical had happened on that cool April day and that the tree in the distance bloomed with some kind of rare flower. The tree was a white cloud in the distance, limbs heavy with shells.
There have been some bad storms this winter and when we saw the shell tree on our recent walk, several limbs were gone. The shell tree is a sad sight now. But we discovered that something wonderful has happened. All along Long Beach’s trails, shrubs and trees are covered with more shell flowers.
Our daffodils may be late and our lawns slow to green, but on Long Beach there are flowers blooming year-round on this, our splendid wild desert.
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
One of the best things about my job as Cape Cod HOME’s editor is that I meet so many knowledgeable people, from an antique expert who can tell you where to find an authentic pub sign for your living room to a woodworker who will handcraft a table from old Nantucket cottage floorboards. Especially in this issue—our Annual Resource Guide, which covers countless local home and garden subjects and services–I find myself marveling at the diversity of skilled, knowledgeable businesspeople on the Cape and Islands.
The truth is that even though we may be limited in terms of geographic space, we have experts in just about anything you need to transform your home into a Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, or Nantucket dream. Just like the gorgeous home on our cover, which is the work of one of this issue’s featured businesspeople, Falmouth architect John Dvorsack. Our talented writer, Mary Grauerholz, who interviewed all the Business Focus people in this issue, has a gift for getting to the heart of each person’s special ability. When she talks to Dvorsack in his office located in Falmouth’s historic Highfield Hall, you can hear the man’s love for the skill he shares with lucky homeowners.
“As a small practice, I am able to spend a lot of time working closely with my clients to understand what’s really important to them,” says Dvorsack in the story, which begins on page 36. “I really enjoy the owner’s reaction when it all comes together.”
Looking at Dvorsack’s work—and the work of all the featured BusinessFocus people here—you can see why our coastal world is so well known. Folks seem to be determined to have their home—whether a grand manse or a simple half-Cape—reflect the natural glory that surrounds us all.
So whether you are remodeling your kitchen with exquisite kitchen cabinets (read about Lewis & Weldon on page 62), dreaming of putting in a spectacular infinity pool (listen to John Viola of Viola Associates on page 74), or planning to finally transform your backyard into a gorgeous landscape that makes the most the most of Cape Cod’s natural glories (find Mary LeBlanc on page 68), this issue is for you. I promise if you call any one of these folks to help you shape the Cape Cod or Island home of your dreams, you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for turning to Cape Cod HOME.
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
Last weekend I walked around the old cranberry bog on Bumps River Road close to our house with my best friend and our dogs and all around us nature was giving a flamboyant goodbye to summer . . .always a bittersweet time on Cape Cod and the Islands. It is hard to let go of that glorious golden time every year. As I said in the just released 2011 winter issue of Cape Cod HOME, I am always sad when the hydrangeas—that emblem of Cape Cod—begin to turn from intense blue—just like the sky over a Cape beach in summer—to muted greens, grays, and soft purples.
We have lots of hydrangeas surrounding our old Cape house, in beds around the yard—these show-stopping beauties burst into bloom around the end of June and perform their hearts out until around mid-October. A few weeks ago when my husband, Steve, and I were doing our fall clean-up (raking, raking raking!), I decided to take a break and make a few hydrangea wreaths. These wreaths can be done with blossoms that still hold color, or even those that have faded to that lovely beige color, kind of like old lace.
Fall comes gently to Cape Cod. There are autumn days so warm that you can sit in your backyard in the bright sun and pretend that the cold gray months are still far away. But finally, the late October Saturday comes when you can’t pretend anymore—it’s time to rip out the bolting arugula and the towering kale, cut down the stalks of fading Black Eyed Susans, and hardest of all, prune away the dying blossoms of that Cape Cod emblem of summer—the hydrangeas.
- Posted in Nature
Must-Have Articles, Accessories & Products
CAPE COD KEEPSAKES
Two Cape Codders have collaborated to transform their love of the Cape’s natural world into Dune Jewelry and Beachsand Snowflakes—handcrafted gifts that are making a splash online and in several regional shops. Sterling silver necklaces from the Dune Jewelry line (www.dunejewelry.com) feature a simple yet sophisticated pendant ($130) inlaid with sand gathered from your favorite Cape beach (sand has been collected from 300 beaches worldwide). Beachsand Snowflakes ($24, www.beachsandsnowflakes.com) are the perfect gift for beach lovers from Bourne to Provincetown. These items are available in more than 20 Cape stores, including Trees Place in Orleans, Fein Things in Centerville, and Village Trading Co. in Mashpee.
Eat, drink, and be merry on a holiday getaway to the big city.
There is something about the holidays that brings out the child in all of us, making us wish for that seasonal sparkle. Cape Cod is full of seasonal events galore—but there is something special about a festive getaway in Boston. Read more…