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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…
This holiday season, surprise that special someone in your life with a glimmering gift of jewelry capturing the memorable glow of this very special seaside world.
Last December, my husband and I braved the cold wind on the ferry to Nantucket, bound for the Festival of Trees at the Nantucket Historical Association… and hoping to do a little last-minute shopping.
When we landed at the dock, my eyes were drawn to the harbor, where low winter sunlight sparkled. This is one of my favorite sights on the Cape, even though it only happens when the light hits the ocean at a lower, more dramatic angle.
I am always a little sad that friends who cherish these seaside places rarely get to see this spectacular winter light show transforming the ocean into a mesmerizing mosiac of light and shadow. The sight seems a perfect metaphor to me of how nature shapes the seasons of your life. Even though I spent my childhood on Mount Hope Bay and then grew up in a Long Island Sound town, I don’t remember the enchantment of winter light on the Bay or Long Island Sound. Maybe the clarity of such moments comes easier when you are older and the world has expanded beyond your own small pond.
My husband snapped this photo by the harbor and then we explored Nantucket’s holiday fiesta. Every shop seemed to overflow with sparkly decorations and surprises, and I filled my camera with shots of festive trees, wreaths, and window boxes decorating every street. We had some hot chocolate and then headed to our room at the Jared Coffin house. Soon the sun went down… and I thought, how different night is on an island in December, than on a bright summer evening. But no less beautiful.
In this issue, we share some of our favorite winter wonders on the Cape and Islands—from our cover story on savoring the Cape’s quiet season to the marvelous Flying Santas story tracing generous volunteer Santas bringing Christmas magic to lighthouse-bound children—a heart-warming holiday tradition that has happened on the Cape and Islands since 1929.
The happiest of holidays—
- Posted in Philanthropy
It may seem like a strange idea to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials in the autumn, just when Mother Nature is slowing down and about to take a long nap. But the truth is that planting in September and October is often a very smart idea on the Cape and Islands because the soil is still warm from the summer sun, air and water temperatures have moderated, and water levels in the soil are neither too great—as is often the case in New England springs—nor at hot summertime lows.
On Cape Cod, autumn steals into the warm days of September and October like the first frost on the tomatoes in our Centerville garden. As I write this it is still August and summertime is at its height. As you can see in this photo of fresh vegetables gathered this week, our garden is feeding us with summer splendor now—fat slicing tomatoes, delicious yellow zucchini, fresh basil, and cherry tomatoes so sweet they taste better than candy. Still, I have planted fall crops—laid down lettuce seed and fertilized the kale and brussel sprouts.
This winter we hope to remodel our kitchen, which was built as a 1912 addition to our old Cape. Putting this issue together, I pored over the photos of interior decorator Kelly McGuill’s cheery design for her mother’s new kitchen in an old Bass River Cape on page 14. I love McGuill’s mix of cool white interiors with splashes of color—I can imagine my family sitting at a table just like the one she chose, cosy in a new kitchen that still feels right in an old house.
My kitchen reverie took a different spin when I looked at the kitchen in our story about a Nantucket homeowner’s transformation of a development house on Nantucket into an antique showcase. The homeowner could not afford a captain’s seaside manse on Nantucket harbor—so he worked with island craftsmen and New England antique dealers to create his own antique beauty. The house is a wonder of taste and design. The kitchen would fit perfectly in our house—although we might not be able to furnish it with as many antiques. Perhaps we could purchase some of Woods Hole potter Tessa Morgan’s pottery for our simple, farm kitchen shelves. Read about Tessa’s artistry in our Art and Antiques feature on page 38.
We also hope to plant a new conifer bed this fall, out near a stand of Hinoki cypress and Robusta juniper planted by my husband’s family in the 1940s. The fall is a great time of year to plant as we explain in our Cape Gardens feature on page 48. I am already perusing Country Garden in Hyannis and Mahoney’s in Osterville for trees and shrubs to replace a giant old cedar we had to take down last fall.
It may still be summer, but my autumn reveries are easing the regret that this Cape Cod summer—always our splendid season—is waning. I hope this issue of Cape Cod HOME brightens your darkening September and October days and inspires your own autumn reverie.
Autumn on Cape Cod and the Islands is a special time, treasured by year-rounders and “shoulder-season” visitors alike. The earth, sea, and sky are often glorious panoramas of light, shadow, and color, as if Mother Nature saved summer’s end for stunning grand finale fireworks. Skies are suffused with brilliant purples and blues, seaside meadows, backyard gardens, and even deck planters burst into rainbows of color, marshes turn golden, and cranberry bogs are so incredibly scarlet that you can’t believe such a color is real.
It is a time of year that never grows old, a surprising treat especially for those of us who work round the clock all summer spreading the word about this place we love. “Just wait until September comes,” we say to each other as we envy this world on vacation all around us—visitors relaxed on beaches, barefoot at ice cream stands, strolling through shops. “Come back in October,” we say to friends who hate to head back over the bridge to America—the real world—and life without an ocean and a bay, miles of dunes, bogs round every corner, and the light, the uplifting light all around us.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “September and October are the best months of the year on the Cape and Islands.” Aside from the autumnal beauty of nature, there are also dozens of seafood festivals, craft fairs, art gallery openings, and outdoor concerts in all 17 Cape and Islands’ communities in the autumn. In this issue, we tell you about lots of those events, from that perennial favorite, Bourne’s Scallop Festival, to Wellfleet’s incredibly popular OysterFest, and out to Nantucket’s third annual gourmand Hogtoberfest.
In this issue, we also explore the wealth of Cape Cod’s multi-season art world in our feature on talented Rowley Gallery artist Lorraine Trenholm (don’t miss her oil painting demo in Orleans on September 24th!), take you along through the thrills and chills of a ghostly tour in historic Barnstable, and keep you warm on cool fall days with fresh bread and roll recipes from Cape and Islands bakers. And if you spent too much time in our famous summer sun, we even share hints from local skin care doctors and professionals on how to rejuvenate your skin.
In our new Social Life section, we share some snap shots of last summer’s fun. Be sure to take a look at one of the highlights of my summer—my first fishing trip ever as part of a fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society, I had the thrill of landing a whopper of a striped bass off Nantucket. The above photo is a preview of that moment. And that’s just the beginning of the fun and fabulous tales we share with you in this issue of your Cape Cod LIFE.
Come back again soon,
Let’s face it: Our language has given pork a pretty bad rap. If you eat too much and feel sick, you are “pigging out.” Corrupt politicians are known for their “pork belly” deals. If you live in a messy place, it’s called a “pigsty.” We raise our ire at road hogs and male chauvinist pigs. And then there’s The Bible’s famous “Cast not your pearls before swine.”
- Posted in Food
Creativity seems to flourish on Cape Cod and the Islands. Maybe it’s because we live surrounded by water—life seems to ebb and flow here without boundaries, a perfect environment for an artistic imagination.
Think about last year’s American Idol star and Marstons Mills native, Siobhan Magnus. An artist without limits if ever there was one, Siobhan’s multi-octave voice soared above every other contestant’s, sometimes sounding like an osprey’s wild call. Siobhan is just the latest in a long line of Cape and Islands song birds.
Five sisters from Wellfleet are continuing that tradition. Their band, the Parkington Sisters, is playing to sold-out concerts nation-wide. One of the sisters, Sarah, describes growing up in a house with “a basement full of instruments—there were pianos, banjos, you name it.” The five girls hold seven musical degrees and their band is becoming a big name on national tours. Read about Sarah, Nora, Lydia, Rose, and Ariel on page 42.
We continue our celebration of performing artists with a story about Osterville native Neil Mahoney. “Neil Mahoney was just one of thousands that head to Los Angeles each year in search of . . . the spotlight,” says Rob Conery on page 46. “Mahoney thought he had a story to tell. But unlike most, he’s now a bona fide film director. Mahoney found his own path to Hollywood . . . In 2010, one of his on-line films won a prestigious award.”
Talk about fame—one of our talented editorial interns, Lindsay Oliver, got the chance of a lifetime this summer, when she interviewed The Bachelorette TV star and Cape native, Chris Lambton. Lindsay talked to Chris just weeks before hearts broke with the news that he is engaged. Get up close and personal with Chris on page 38—you will enjoy Lindsay’s story.
Lastly, in this issue we welcome you to a new section, “Living Well.” Our story on Cape Cod Hospital traces this busy healthcare center’s rise as one of New England’s busiest and best hospitals, kicking off a series on healthy living on the Cape and Islands.
To show you that I am doing my own personal best to live healthy, the above photo was taken in my vegetable garden in early July. You may remember the shot taken in my just-planted garden in our May issue. I am pretty thrilled with the organic goodness that has been bursting from our little patch of Cape Cod. Luckily, my husband is a good sport about my passion for fresh vege-tables—although he does draw the line at my love for Brussel Sprouts.
There is something so elemental about vegetable gardening, putting a simple seed in the ground, watering and watching over it until one day a tiny green sprout appears. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I planted a row of radishes in my first vegetable garden. One of the easiest, quickest vegetables to grow, the sprouts popped up, flourished in no time at all and soon plump red radishes formed, perfect for salads.
I planted that first vegetable garden when I was around 30, in a small space beside our house on the Mount Hope Bay. I was lucky enough to inherit the garden from a previous organic gardener who had prepared the soil really well, removing all the sod and New England stones, digging down several feet, and adding lots of well-rotted manure and organic matter to the soil.
Gardening by the salt water is a gift—vegetable plants seem to love the warm moist air. That first year, besides the radishes, I grew several different kinds of lettuce, fat Early Girl and Better Boy tomatoes, sturdy basil—I even had some pretty good peppers. With our two small children, I used to spend hours in the garden. I was hooked, as were my children, who used to love helping me weed, rake, plant, and especially water, the garden. I thought vegetable gardening was a breeze.
I soon learned that in addition to patience, gardening can teach you humility. My next vegetable garden was in a field behind our new home in Central Massachusetts. As soon as we moved in, I started dreaming of my huge new garden, even envisioning perfect swaying rows of corn.Perhaps I should have listened to the man in his 80s, a devoted gardener, who had grown up in our house, tilled gardens there for decades, and who had a 1930s degree from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMASS Amherst.
“Well, you can try,” said Fred, a lean New Englander with a strong handshake. “I never had much luck getting anything to grow there—except gourds. Everyone loved my gourds for their Thanksgiving tables. It’s pretty wet back there and you really can’t plant to August, but give it a try.”
Still in my early 30s, I believed I could get anything to grow anywhere if I tried hard enough, so I forged ahead. Our helpful neighbor plowed and tilled the field with his tractor, my small son seated beside him, watching the dark earth appear in beautiful orderly rows like magic. The garden looked so fertile, as if anything could grow there. We excitedly planted row after row of corn, tomatoes, peppers, and squash.
It was a disaster. The corn plants were spindly and collapsed. The tomato plants rotted. I think we had a few puny zucchini, most of which got eaten by a huge healthy woodchuck that lived in the woods behind us. Sick at heart, I faced the fact that Fred was right. The soil in the field was very wet, full of clay, and terrible for growing anything but gourds that only flourished because by August, the soil had dried out enough for germination.
After that, I kind of gave up on vegetable gardening, except for a few planters of patio tomatoes and some pots of basil and parsley. Instead, I tackled the old perennial gardens around our yard, planted with drifts of iris, peonies, wildflowers, and daylilies, which thrived and bloomed happily year after year. But every summer, I longed for the taste of my own fresh vegetables.When we moved to Cape Cod several years ago, my son decided that we should have a vegetable garden. Something about gardening as a toddler must have taken root in him and he is a landscape contractor now.
With his knowledge from a Stockbridge degree, he prepared the soil carefully in a somewhat neglected plot on the other side of our driveway, piling dark rich compost from a local supplier into sandy Cape soil.
At the center of the garden, he made a small decorative flower out of paving stones, brought back from a stay in New Orleans, when he helped the city replant its parks after Hurricane Katrina. In neat rows we planted some old standbys—tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and carrots. A more adventuresome gardener than I, he planted things like cilantro and arugula.
Our first garden, planted in 2008, was pretty successful. In 2009, we were devastated by the tomato blight that hit gardens all over New England, but we had arugula and cilantro galore. Last summer, the garden began to really take hold. The kale and zucchini plants exploded, taking over the beds. The Better Boy tomatoes were so plentiful I had enough to share with friends and co-workers and ended up freezing container after container, great for winter spaghetti dinners.
We had colorful “Rainbow Lights” swiss chard, tasty fat brussels sprouts, sweet cucumbers—and lots of basil and arugula, which I have discovered I cannot live without. I am still struggling with peppers and my broccoli was a disaster, but all in all, my latest vegetable garden was the most successful ever.
I hope that if I live a few more decades—say to 80 or so—I will figure out how to grow a perfect pepper. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Although I am an old man, I am but a young gardener.” Or who knows? Maybe by then I’ll have learned that it’s okay to settle for nothing more than a harvest of gorgeous gourds for our Thanksgiving table.