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A Fine Wine & Dine on Nantucket

World class wines from France. Fresh oysters from Duxbury. Black bass caught off the coast of Nantucket. Superb salmon flown straight from Scotland. Fine cuts of lamb from Colorado. Black truffles ordered from Paris. All prepared and served by highly regarded chefs and sommeliers in an elegant Nantucket home on a lovely summer evening.

Terry Pommett

These were just some of the attractions for a “Great Wines in A Grand House” dinner held last summer as a premiere 2011 Nantucket Wine Festival event. The evening was a star-studded extravaganza created by well-known chef, Robert Sisca of Boston’s award-winning Bistro du Midi, several French winemakers, and a Nantucket couple who shared their historic home with 18 lucky guests. Read more…

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On Cape Cod mornings in weather fair or foul, you might see 79-year-old Stan Snow rowing his boat on Orleans’ Town Cove. Just like his great grandfather, Aaron Snow, who often sailed up and down the East Coast in search of the best products for the family’s famous store, Stan knows the importance of sticking to things.  Read more…

We’re Fishing

Weir fishing still endures as a sustainable practice, thanks to a few hardy Cape Cod fishermen.

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The period from 1870 to 1930 was the heyday of weir fishing on Cape Cod, when weir-caught fish accounted for around a quarter of all New England seafood that went to market. In those days, earthen colored nets hanging from hickory poles poked from the surface of the water all over Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay. The catch was split up into baitfish for the big schooners that plied the Grand Banks, fishing for cod and halibut, and the rest was put on railway cars and shipped to consumer markets in Boston and New York City. To store the quantities being shipped, freezer houses sprung up from Truro to the Cape Cod Canal.  Read more…

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In all seasons, a garden is one of the most life-affirming places on earth—so of course you want to get married there! Some choose a home landscape for their wedding site for this reason alone—others because it’s more personal or sentimental. Other brides decide on a garden wedding because of financial considerations. Those on Cape Cod often select a garden ceremony or rehearsal dinner because the outdoors are special here. Getting married where you can feel the sea breezes just seems appropriate for a Cape event. Read more…

Where Shells Bloom Where Shells Bloom

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.

Happy Spring,

Susan Dewey

Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
sdewey@capecodlife.com

Fabric of a Community

Dated between 1890 and 1900, the “Log Cabin”  quilt includes 42 blocks  of colors with black  embroidered lattice strips and a crochet edging.

The historic quilt collection at the Atwood House Museum in Chatham holds a treasure-trove of stories in its folds. Study the quilts’ intricate patterns, deep colors, rich textures—and sometimes even handwritten messages—and a swirl of history passes by.

Consider Marjory Smith, who bought the material for her gorgeous red and green quilt in Boston, when she traveled there to shop for bridal clothes for her 1833 wedding to John Atwood. Or Mehitable Atwood, whose friends and relatives pieced a multicolored “friendship” quilt in honor of her 1848 marriage to Benjamin Boylston and wrote bits of wisdom on its back (“Remember me when night closes in on thee” and “True friendship is everlasting” are just two of many).

With their captivating visuals and messages that were sometimes inked or stitched onto the back, the quilts give a glimpse of Chatham life in the 1800s and early 1900s—life that is as profound as any history book.

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Home Sweet Holiday Home

Home Sweet Holiday Home “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” Those words ring especially true for Denise Barker of East Sandwich. Her charming Cape is a constantly evolving expression of her love for Cape Cod, photography, nature, and her family, especially during the holiday season, with two crackling fireplaces spreading warmth and freshly baked Christmas treats piled high on pretty pedestal plates displayed on the kitchen counter. Denise makes the holiday season special with all her festive, uniquely creative touches.

In 2002 when Denise and her husband, Scott, were house-hunting they had a punch list of wants and needs for their family of five. The couple loved the historic character of East Sandwich, and coming upon an unfinished Cape with a yard full of pear and apple trees they knew they had found the right place.

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Let There Be Light

Let there be Light For Provincetown and even beyond, it’s definitely a symbol that Thanksgiving is here. It’s always the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The lights always go on at 6 p.m., and it’s always kind of a surprise to see who’s going to light the monument.

It’s definitely a time when the town is hopping. We probably had over 1,200 people at last year’s lighting event. Little by little, it becomes big—the museum fills and the crowd swells outdoors. Unfortunately, the weather’s always a little unpredictable. Sometimes it’s a little cold.

We’ve had rain and we’ve had snow. Last year was pretty good—it was blustery, but people enjoyed it. It’s a very brief ceremony. We don’t hold them out for long speeches. And as we say, there’s plenty of room in our 10,000-square-foot museum for people to warm up.

There are 19 strands of light and they each have 166 lights on them. The trivia is that it totals 3,154 lights. They’re all hand-put-in and hand-taken-out every year—Carlos Silva has done it for many, many years now. And they take a fair amount of abuse up here in the winds.

Clearly, the best seat is right up here [on High Pole Hill]. It’s kind of an unprecedented view, and you’re up here with a thousand of your closest friends. It can be seen from afar—people can watch from downtown—but the real treat, I think, is up here on the grounds of the monument.

People sometimes come dressed up as pilgrims—the whole garb. One time we actually had two people that had gotten married here talk all of their family into coming as pilgrims.

I think it symbolizes the beginning of winter. It marks that change of the seasons, when those of us that live on the Cape kind of reclaim the Cape. The lighting certainly brings tourism in, but it’s a chance for residents of Cape Cod to assemble and have a moment of cheer before the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s preparation for everyone, to know that winter’s coming. It’s a bright moment.

Visit www.pilgrim-monument.org for more information about Share the Light 2011.

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…

Built with Love

Eric Roth

Like Russian nesting dolls, each figure tucked into the next, almost everything in the Osterville home of custom-builder E.J. Jaxtimer is a story within a story. Beyond every inch of the polished wood floors and airy rooms is an ambience that reflects touching stories of E.J., his wife, Terry, their three sons, and the extended family. Even the furnishings—from pieces the couple restored when they were young newlyweds to mementos, art, and handmade crafts—represent pages of family history. Read more…

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