In the closing moments of a conversation with Senator Dan Wolf, after we had talked about planes, public office, and family, he very directly touched on something obliquely addressed in the rest of these pages: our identity as Cape Codders. In our travels abroad, we’re Americans and New Englanders. Within the confines of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties, we are Vineyarders, Wellfleetians, and all the rest. Where we’re from depends on where we are now.
The inverse is also true: Where we are now depends on where we’re from.
For this issue, I talked with folks from all 17 communities across the region. I doubt many of them thought too deeply about their biographies until I put a tape recorder in front of them. In the course of recounting the beginnings, turns of fate, struggles, and legacies that comprise a life story, I learned from people who arrived here by design and by serendipity, from natives who came home again, and those who never left. For whatever reason, each decided to plant roots here. Each decided to identify as a Cape Codder, a Nantucketer, or a Vineyarder.
There’s a lesson here, and maybe I’m only paying attention because my wife and I finally moved over the bridge last April. Cape Cod is forever in flux, forever being pushed and pulled by its citizens. Today’s staunchest, surliest locals are usually yesterday’s washashores. But whether you head here for a few weeks in the summer, take flight at the first sign of snow on the doppler, or take the good with the bad and call this land your home year-round, there’s room here for all of us. (Eastham’s John Knight offered up this nugget on “Tourists Go Home” bumper stickers: “They go home, and shortly after, we all follow them.”) We are all fortunate to have a relationship with this place, no matter if it’s permanent or fleeting. It doesn’t matter where you’re from.
In this 2012 edition of our Annual Guide, Cape Cod Life is fortunate to once again have Dan Cutrona cast his unmatched eye and express more with pictures than I could hope to do with words. Freelance writer Tracy Hampton—who you might occasionally hear filling in behind the microphone on WCAI—explores the best, the brightest, the can’t miss, and the rarely seen in each community on the Cape and Islands. This issue also features wonderful contributions from ace Vineyard photographer Alison Shaw, our tireless (and very employable) intern Erinn Boon, and several others. We’re proud of it, and we hope you enjoy it.
Jeff Harder, Managing Editor