2018 Annual Guide: Wellfleet
South Wellfleet • Wellfleet
Whether you want a quick walk or a long hike, Great Island can’t be beat for natural beauty with a lot of variety. The trail brings you from forest to dune, with views so pretty you’ll have a hard time putting your camera down. Check the tides before you set out.
The Cape Cod National Seashore’s Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail goes beyond natural beauty, with an almost magical atmosphere that brings immediate peace. Stand still on the boardwalk and listen. In the center of town, Wellfleet Preservation Hall is a great place for all kinds of activities, from concerts to classes.
Mom & Pops:
Nestled in with the local post office and chamber of commerce and close to the bike trail, the South Wellfleet General Store has everything you need. For amazing artisanal bread and scrumptious pastries, visit nearby P.B. Boulangerie.
Held in October, Wellfleet OysterFest is not only great fun; it also promotes the tradition of shellfishing. With entertainment, culinary events and games, OysterFest is probably best known for the highly competitive Shuck-Off.
A day in the life of: Lisa Brown, teacher, activist, world traveler and founder of the Wellfleet OysterFest
By Allyson Plessner
In 1979, Lisa Brown found herself in Tehran, Iran three days before a hostage crisis broke out at the U.S. embassy. With the help of some kind strangers, an entire Air France flight was diverted to pick up Brown and bring her to safety in India. There, she spent a year taking classes and gaining invaluable life experience at Benares Hindu University, including a course with the Dalai Lama.
Many years and countries later, Brown is a teacher at Nauset Regional High School. Her immersive classes put her years of world travel, including trips to over 60 countries, to use. She lives with her wife, Deirdre, and their adorable puppy, Otis, in the Wellfleet house her father built—with chickens grazing outside, drums and eclectic artwork decorating the rooms, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that give the entire space a feeling of comfort, ease and openness.
On a typical day, “I get up and feed the chickens,” Brown says, “and then I get to school very early in the morning and stay late to be accessible to the kids. I’m also involved in after-school programs like the Human Rights Academy and the Haiti Club.” Brown has been taking kids to an island off Haiti for 17 years now.
“Working with kids is the pinnacle of my passion. I love making a connection,” says Brown, a runner-up for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Award.
Brown has many hobbies, from playing the drums to gardening, but she says her true passion is writing curriculum. “The diversity curriculum that I’ve developed is taught through a social-emotional lens,” she explains. Her class “Exploring and Respecting Differences” focuses on diversity and social justice in human rights.
“As students get a more global understanding, they want to make a difference in the world, and they need to be empowered and inspired to do that,” she says. “I try to teach my students that if you dream something, you can do it.”
As she speaks, Otis busies himself chewing on a large oyster shell, an apt reminder of Brown’s involvement in one of the largest annual festivals on Cape Cod, the Wellfleet OysterFest. Brown says she helped start this festival as an attempt to rival Truro’s “Dump Dance” and as a way to make sure her community had an event that brings people together and celebrates one of Wellfleet’s greatest treasures: oysters.
She laughs, remembering a moment that is perhaps most telling of the spirit of this event: During one of the first years of OysterFest, the winner of the shucking contest, in a moment of celebration, stabbed his knife through the table borrowed from the elementary school. “They never gave us a table again,” she says.
When her wife asks her what her favorite part of the day is, Brown jokes that it’s coming home to her, but in all seriousness, she says it’s true. Brown has been all over the world, but at the end of the day, she comes home to the house she grew up in and to her wife, whom she’s known since high school—the same high school where she now teaches. Though she says she’s left her heart in many places, she always comes back to Wellfleet. “I live in paradise,” she says.
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