There is something about camps and cottages that seems the essence of Cape Cod and the Islands. Everyone seems to have a story about a special place where they spent part of a summer, from vacation cottages to cherished family camps perched on the edge of beaches or at the end of wooded sandy roads.
In the 1940s, my grandfather built a camp in Falmouth, a simple place on the marsh that looked out over a river. He sold it when I was really young, but I have memories of the marsh, an exotic place that we explored on narrow boardwalks. I can remember the strange smell of the marsh and its vastness. In my memories, I am intrigued by this strange new place, as I hold tight to my mother’s hand. Summer days and promises of fun and excitement seem to stretch out forever.
When I was around six, my parents bought an old summer house on the Mount Hope Bay. We lived there year-round, a growing family of seven. It was at the end of a long street with lots of houses and children, some of which were built as camps around the turn of the last century. Life was uncomplicated, lived mostly on porches open to the sun and salt air and what was happening out on the bay.
My grandparents sold their Falmouth camp and moved in next door, into a brown shingled house with a small porch that looked out over the water. There weren’t many walls inside, just open rooms. My grandmother always seemed to have warm cookies to eat in her kitchen. She taught me to love tea. We would sit on the porch with our tea and cookies. She taught me lots of card games and told me stories. Sometimes I would sleep upstairs, where the bedrooms were separated by wooden partitions and you could hear the seagulls so close it seemed they were right above you. The sound of the waves lulled you to sleep.
These are my camps by the water, places that made it inevitable that I should end up living less than a mile from the ocean, with salt air and seagulls cries part of every day. There is something about life being shaped simply by nature that appeals to all of us, as Patrick Mahady discovered when he was searching for a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard in one of our Cottage Living features. Mahady thought he wanted to live in Edgartown, but on a whim, his realtor drove him down a wooded Chilmark road.
“A drive down the long winding dirt road to the site revealed a mix of open meadow, woodlands, and pond shoreline with views to a barrier beach beyond. Mahady was hooked,” says our writer, Nancy Berry in “Casual Camp” on page 20. Mahady’s camp was soon designed by Hutker Architects to be a part of the natural world all around it.
I hope some of your June, July, or August days will be spent in a camp or a cottage close to our beaches. Our summer days here still stretch out forever, just beyond porches that welcome anyone to come and just sit for a while.
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
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