Speaking of “the best,” I would like to write a few words about Marianna Lynch.
In A Backwards Glance, Edith Wharton quoted Henry James: “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Read more…
"It is Only With the Heart that One Can See Rightly; What is Essential is Invisible to the Eye"
If you think about it, when we go on vacation, we realize how little we really need on a material level. Time spent needing little on the outside provides opportunity to consider on a more personal level—say, an internal level—how much or how little we really need. Quiet time puts us in touch with ourselves, further enabling us to be in touch with others. What really comes between people is not space and time so much as a lack of space and time to be in touch with ourselves. And when we are strangers to ourselves, we are strangers to others. Read more…
Five minutes from our home as part of Cataumet Crossing, where our son Max, now 15, works summers, sits Michael’s Barber Shop. A few years ago, Mike Flemming bought the business from Wayne Fredrick, a popular and very respected barber and stylist. Like Wayne before him, Mike is very personable and makes friends with you and your whole family. When I am there, Mike picks up the conversation where we left off last time, usually following the exploits of my sons, Max, and Josh, now 18. It is not just small talk: he is sincerely interested and you can feel it. Read more…
People ask what it is that I do when I am on the island of Cuttyhunk. My answer: as little as possible! Read more…
We are most fortunate to have the summer weather we have on the Cape and Islands. The old timers in Maine describe their year as “nine months of winter and three months of damn poor sleddin’.” However, summer is a short time on the Cape and Islands as well. We long for it much of the year, and now that it’s here, as they say in Rome, carpe diem, or seize the day. Read more…
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
Who doesn’t love the view of the Cape Cod Canal? When driving over the bridges, I wish I could stop in the middle just to study the magnificent waterway curving gently around the hills between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay. The approximate difference of three hours between high tide times in these two bays results in tidal currents through the canal stimulating to observe, but challenging to inexperienced navigators. Seeing sunset over the west end of the canal from the Bourne Bridge is the best.
In Woods Hole, the vantage point of Nobska Lighthouse is so encompassing. Facing south, Nantucket Sound runs to my left between the bluffs along the New Seabury Coast and four lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard’s north shore. The view looking south is all of Vineyard Sound separating Martha’s Vineyard from the Elizabeth Islands. On the high shore along Tarpaulin Cove on the island of Naushon stands one of the oldest lighthouses in North America. It was erected to direct sailing sea captains to the inn/tavern at Tarpaulin Cove long before there was any talk of the Cape Cod Canal. And, looking to my right from Nobska is the village of Woods Hole and Steamship Authority port for ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard.
On the Vineyard, my favorite view is of Menemsha. There is a foot path up the hill overlooking this classic, so-often-painted fishing village. However, from the high road leading toward Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, one can observe all of Menemsha Pond and its surroundings. The channel runs to the pond from the village and separates Menemsha Harbor from the beach in Lobsterville. Menemsha Pond is tidal and only for shallow draft vessels, the smallest of which can continue up into Nashaquitsa Pond. From here, Hariph’s Creek runs into Stonewall Pond. These fascinating, beautiful tidal waters flow from Vineyard Sound northwest of Menemsha to a narrow strip of land about one-eighth of a mile from open ocean south of the Vineyard.
On Nantucket, in the evening, I like to saunter to the end of the longest pier and look back over the Boat Basin to the outline of this Rockwellian harbor-front village alive with lights, music, diners, shoppers, and boaters.
In the middle of old Cape Cod, approximately seven miles apart are two views, one looking south to Nantucket Sound and the other looking north toward Cape Cod Bay. On the south side, I love the views from the highest hill in Hyannisport by the old stone church. With Nantucket Sound as a backdrop, a tidal inlet surrounds Squaw Island and a handsome golf course in the foreground. Seven miles due north lies Barnstable Harbor and Millway Beach facing toward Cape Cod Bay. Across the harbor on beautiful Sandy Neck Beach sit a few cottages in the shadow of an old lighthouse, much to the delight of many artists.
In the Lower Cape on the north side, my favorite view is of the extensive sand flats on Cape Cod Bay when the tide is out. Stretching from Eastham, in front of Rock Harbor in Orleans, across all of Brewster and portions of Dennis, low tide exposes many square miles of sand flats, much to the delight of young children—and the young at heart. At the elbow of the Cape, if you will, facing southeast, Chatham Lighthouse overlooks the harbor and its fish pier, the barrier beach and its storm breach, the open Atlantic, and the rest of the world.
Including almost all of the Atlantic-facing shore on the Outer Cape, from Eastham and Wellfleet to North Truro lies another of my favorite views: the beachside hills and sand cliffs. I like to slowly walk as close to the surf as possible, listen to the crashing and rushing waves, breathe in the ocean air, and totally mesmerized, let my mind’s eye wander ahead of me beneath the majestic cliffs of sand. One can see and feel Mother Nature at work.
Finally, what could be more appropriate than to view Provincetown Harbor, where the pilgrims first landed? And what better vantage point than atop the Pilgrim Monument? Bordered on three sides by Province Lands dunes and beaches, the village looks south over the harbor to all of Cape Cod Bay. On a clear day from the top of the Pilgrim monument, Judy, our boys Josh and Max, and I could see the shape of the Cape all the way around Cape Cod Bay to the east end of the Cape Cod Canal. Wow!
“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.