It is the first day of October as I write this—a glorious Cape Cod day with a bluebird sky lit by autumnal light with a strong southwest wind tossing the treetops around like ocean-bound clipper ship sails. Summer has finally left us, although there are still days when you can sit in sunny spots and pretend that it is August; believe you can still wear shorts and flip-flops; and if you are hungry, imagine hitting The Barnacle on Craigville Beach for some hot fried clams.
Of course, the truth is that The Barnacle is locked up tight; the beach is empty, except for seagulls; you have packed away your flip-flops for another season, and sometimes at night it is so cool that you have pulled on warm socks. Still, you cherish the fall light, knowing that soon, it will be dark at 4 p.m.
The long, cold nights on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard in November and December can be daunting—sometimes I wonder what our coastal world must look like from the night sky then, tiny lights of humanity on slender spits and curves of land in an endless black sea. Like Terry Pommett’s fabulous shot of Nantucket on this issue’s cover, it must be a breathtaking sight—our human existence so dwarfed by the power and magnificence of nature.
Still, we have electricity to light the darkness, heating systems to warm us, and countless man-made devices to feed, comfort, and entertain us. Because I love history and sometimes wish I lived centuries ago, I often try to envision what life must have been like here before we became so adept at keeping dark nights at bay. Imagine total darkness hours before dinner, probably lit by a rare candle or two. Going to bed by 7 or 8 p.m. in cold rooms, warmed only by a fireplace, if you were lucky. Even though it sounds like a harsh existence, I sometimes envy the elemental simplicity of such living.
In this issue, we share feature stories about the comforts we gather around ourselves for winter months on the Cape and Islands—hearty winter foods from the earth and the closeness of animals and family members. And we also take a fascinating look back at how resourceful Nantucketers—known worldwide for lighting the darkness with whale oil—turned to the manufacture of candles in numerous small shops and factories that flourished on the island in the mid-1800s after the decline of the whaling industry.
We also share some holiday gift ideas in our new Cape and Islands Inspirations section—you will brighten the winter days of those you love with these coastal-inspired treasures. And on those long, dark winter nights, keep your Cape Cod Life close by as a reminder that summer days will always come again to warm you, on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
All of us at Cape Cod Life wish you the happiest of holidays and a warm winter!
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
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