Love on the Wing

We are planning a wedding.

In September, our son, Dan, will marry a Cape Cod girl, Erika, in West Barnstable Parish Church. The reception will be in a meadow that looks out towards Sandy Neck Beach.

Erika was born on Cape Cod—she is a sea sprite of a girl with hair the color of beach grass and blue eyes like the ocean on a bright September day. She grew up loving the water and life by the beach. She is the kind of person you would be lucky to have in a small sailboat during a sudden storm on Vineyard Sound.

Dan was not born on Cape Cod, but he has been here for some part of every summer from the first time when he happily dug his eight-month-old toes in the warm sand at Craigville Beach. After the wedding, they will live in West Barnstable where Dan runs an organic land care business. Erika hopes to teach art in a Cape school.

We are excited that our two families are joining together, strands knotting tight like a good bowline knot. On her Mom’s side, Erika is descended from the Hopkins family who has been on the Cape since the 1600s. Through my dad’s side, Dan is descended from the Higgins family, who were part of a pioneering group—which, incidentally, also included the Hopkins family—who settled the Orleans area.

In this, our special wedding edition, we share some happy memories from recent Cape  weddings. Read about Kathleen and Dan Hodge whose wedding at Ocean Edge Resort last summer was classically romantic with special seaside flair. Find out why Cape wedding planners often choose Sperry Tents for their clients in a stunning photographic spread and story on page 60. And revel in the fantasia of seaside wedding floral designs by Mashpee Commons Verde Floral Design on page 54. Lastly, read Brian Shortsleeve’s Gunk’holing on page 96. We share the column Brian wrote in 1990 as he was preparing to marry his wife, Judy, in an island ceremony to remember.

It is May. The hydrangea are in full bud. The osprey have come back to reunite with their mates, wild calls waking us to sea and sun and plans for seaside days.

Love is in the air. Come celebrate the start of our splendid season!


Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher
& Editor,

WHOI’s Dave Gallo: “It was a potentially career-ending moment for me.”

While out on the Titanic expedition in 2010, we had the cable to the robot wrapped around the wreckage, and we had a hurricane bearing down on us. It’s a mathematics problem for an SAT test: We had a hurricane coming at us at 30 miles per hour, and it was 1,000 miles away. We had a two-day run to get into port because we were going 10 miles an hour at best, it takes two and a half hours to get the robot from the bottom back onto the ship, and we had three hours before the captain said we absolutely had to leave the site. The question was, if we couldn’t get the robot unwrapped, do we stay there and join the Titanic because the hurricane sends us to the bottom? Do we pull on the cable and pull up a big chunk of the wreck itself and forever have to live that down? Or do we cut the cable and leave a $5 million system sitting on the bottom of the ocean? Read more…

Green Dreams

201203hsp_001 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…

Growing seedlings for your vegetable garden


Chrissy Caskey 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…

Reap What You Sow

Starting your own vegetables from seed is time consuming—but worth the work—for Cape Cod gardens.

cc girlingearstudio

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…

Annual Guide Outtakes: “Here’s my beer. What do you think?”

Photo by Dan Cutrona

As I mentioned last week, I’m going to be posting bits and pieces that, due to space constraints, didn’t make it into the 2012 Annual Guide. In this outtake, Todd Marcus, brewmaster at Cape Cod Beer, talks about how he cleaned draught lines to get his foot in the door, the brewery’s community-first ethos, and why I shouldn’t have tossed my plastic cup in the trash after a beer tasting.

I usually say I was gathering intelligence along the way (while I was working for Hyannisport Brewing Company). I even went so far as to work part-time for another local business that was involved in draught line cleaning so I could get into these bars and restaurants on the Cape, talk to the managers and bartenders, learn about their draught systems, what worked and didn’t work, what they liked in the beers that were on tap and what they didn’t like. It allowed me some nice ins later on, after Hyannisport Brewing Company closed, when I would say, “Remember when I was here to clean your draught lines and said that I was thinking about opening a brewery some day? Well, here it is, here’s my beer. What do you think?”

Cape Cod Beer started with Red and IPA. Originally, you could only get the IPA if you had the Red on tap. Having the Red and IPA together meant that if a customer tried the IPA and didn’t like it, but they were still somebody who was interested in trying a craft beer, that they’d try the Red and they’d be happy and satisfied with it. To this day, Cape Cod Red still accounts for more than half of our sales.

Recycling is huge for us—it’s a major part of who we are. We typically put out about one big black bag of trash from the brewery every week. Just about everything else from here gets recycled—all of our plastics, all of our metals. To be perfectly honest, I’m going to go pick up that plastic cup you threw in the trash on the way in here and I’m going to put it in the recycling bin. It’s not your fault. It’s just one of the things I’m going to do.

People know that if they’re going to drink our beer, that money they spent is going to stay here on Cape Cod. I’m going to get my paycheck and I’m going to go to the local hardware store, the local jeweler, the local optician. What comes around goes around.

If you look at our brewery’s retail shop—the books, the candles, the coffee, all that stuff—75 cents of every dollar we spent on retail items last year went to someone on Cape Cod. Now, nobody on Cape Cod is combing cotton to make a T-shirt obviously, but at the very least we’re using local screenprinters, local embroiderers, and as many locally sourced items as we can. We’re a great tourist destination, and we’re trying to help these cottage industries by giving them an outlet. We want to say, “We appreciate what you’re doing, trying to live here and enjoy what Cape Cod has to offer, and that you’re trying to make a living doing what you love as well.” Hopefully, as a result, those people are drinking Cape Cod Beer.

Ten of My Favorite Views

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!

My best,


Annual Guide Outtakes: “There’s a lot more padding in your writing than you think there is”

To me, the 152 pages of this year’s Cape Cod Life Annual Guide represent a lot of effort. After countless hours of research, talking, and transcription, the best part of the endeavor is holding a copy in my hand for the first time. The worst part comes a little before that. Read more…

Creating a simple hydrangea wreath for year-round pleasure


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.

Read more…

Have you had any fun lately?

“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…

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