Cape Cod’s natural beauty and a historic mansion frame a perfect seaside wedding.
Most people who live on Cape Cod year-round already have a certain reverence for the physical beauty just minutes from their door. When it comes to weddings, no fancy trimmings or extraneous bells and whistles are necessary to celebrate the spirit of this place. All you really need to do is show up and let the timeless, intoxicating fusion of ocean and sky work its magic (a little prayer to the weather gods never hurts either). Read more…
When Cape Cod residents first plant their landscapes, many choose evergreen trees and shrubs believing that having foliage all year round is of prime importance. At some point, however, the realization sets in that their yard is a sea of green. Evergreens may have beautiful all-seasons foliage, but these monochromatic trees and shrubs don’t satisfy most humans’ innate desire for color. Read more…
Starting your own vegetables from seed is time consuming—but worth the work—for Cape Cod gardens.
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…
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.
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
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.
“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.
Must-Have Articles, Accessories & Products
CAPE COD KEEPSAKES
Two Cape Codders have collaborated to transform their love of the Cape’s natural world into Dune Jewelry and Beachsand Snowflakes—handcrafted gifts that are making a splash online and in several regional shops. Sterling silver necklaces from the Dune Jewelry line (www.dunejewelry.com) feature a simple yet sophisticated pendant ($130) inlaid with sand gathered from your favorite Cape beach (sand has been collected from 300 beaches worldwide). Beachsand Snowflakes ($24, www.beachsandsnowflakes.com) are the perfect gift for beach lovers from Bourne to Provincetown. These items are available in more than 20 Cape stores, including Trees Place in Orleans, Fein Things in Centerville, and Village Trading Co. in Mashpee.
In our dining room window, there’s a Meyer lemon tree. It isn’t tall—perched on a stool, leaves and all, it sits maybe four feet high. We feed it water and compost, give it an occasional misting, and in return it gives us sweet, juicy lemons: this year, 23.
If it sounds far-fetched, believe me, originally, I agreed. I saw it in the garden center on sale, and wondered what right-minded Cape Codder would imagine their home was a good place for a heat-loving citrus tree.
But a tag tied to the leaves made me hesitate. “A cross between a true lemon and a Mandarin,” it read. “Grow indoors in pots across the northeast.” My husband’s birthday was coming up, and we have a tradition of giving trees—out in the yard there’s a 21st lilac and a 23rd cherry and a big 26th orchard of pears and mulberries. Lemons were a stretch, but in a big sunny window I thought we could swing it, maybe.
Besides, I had the perfect cake to celebrate. It was a lemon Bundt cake, passed on from Doug and Dianne Langeland of Edible Cape Cod magazine. They hadclipped the recipe from Saveur, taken in by the mention of Maida Heatter—America’s great Queen of Cake—and made it several times before we got a taste. By the time we came over they had perfected the baking time—just long enough that the cake was cooked through but the top still moist—and settled on the best bread crumb for the crust—Panko, the dry, flakey Japanese kind. The second I bit in, I was sold: tart, sweet, moist—what else was there to know?
Dianne e-mailed the recipe the next morning and I copied out the head note. “Toni Evins,” I printed, “Maida Heatter’s late daughter, who lived on East 62nd Street in Manhattan, created this tart, sweet cake. It became a favorite of the chic set after Craig Claiborne printed the recipe in the New York Times.” Apparently, Bill Blass and Nancy Reagan were fans. Me too.
With that in mind, I went ahead and bought the tree. I made the birthday cake, and then a replacement after the dog stole the leftovers, and before long Toni Evin’s creation became a staple in our culinary repertoire.
You don’t need a Meyer lemon tree to bake yours, but if you have a sunny window, I’d adopt one. They’re bright, and cheerful, and fruitful, and most importantly, they’re an excellent excuse for cake.
- Posted in Seasonal
Winter has finally arrived here at Cape Cod Life Publications. We wish you all a wonderful, safe and warm holiday weekend!