Published: November 1st 2010November 1st 2010
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” - Henry Miller
To catch all of you up to date, work has brought us to Cape Cod for the winter. We will be here for a total of six months. Never having visited Cape Cod until now a few things that we would like to share with you have surprised us.
Cape Cod is not a town but practically an island due to dredging of the canal separating it from the mainland. There are 15 or so towns on the island. We are told that each has their own personality. We hope to explore each of these locations while we are here and will confirm that if we can.
Our experience is bound to be unique because most of you will visit this area in the summer when it is crowded and bustling so that you can enjoy the lovely beach towns and copious seafood. We are here in the quiet, rather dormant season. Experiencing such a well-known tourist area in off-season excites us. We have always enjoyed doing things differently than the masses and wintering on Cape Cod qualifies. We
are looking forward to watching it snow on the beach; neither of us has ever seen that before. But—seeing it just one time will be enough for us.
As we are here in the fall, there is a well-known activity for New Englanders called “leaf peeping.” Leaf peeping is harder than you think. We feel fortunate to be living among some of the best leaf peeping in the country but I’m afraid our pictures won’t do it justice. The turning of colors is dependent on many factors including the amount of rain and heat during the summer, the varying temperatures, wind and rainfall in fall. We look out our window daily, quietly wondering if the leaves have reached the peak, is this it, is this it we ask ourselves? The next morning you get up and look out to realize that yes yesterday was the peak. It all happens quickly. And once they start changing they change very quickly. Have you ever asked and wondered why all the leaves don’t change at the same time? Only an arborist really knows, but it would be prettier if they did. All in all we have enjoyed our drives and hikes
on the Cape and to Rhode Island in chase of the perfect road with fabulous colors.
On our leaf peeping drive we went through several towns on the cape; Dennis, Chatham, Harwich, Hyannis and Yarmouth. We spent the most time in Chatham exploring the shops, looking at the Lighthouse, and walking along the wharf. Chathman has less than 10,000 residents but feels a bit bigger. It is a very cute seaside town. We really liked the look and feel of this town. If we were buying a house on the Cape we would consider Chatham. It has a very nice feel about it.
We also took a drive to Sakonnet, Rhode Island to enjoy the leaves. They were past peak but it was a lovely drive and we enjoyed the seashore. This drive is rated as one of the top 10 leaf peeping drives in New England.
We have been told and are surprised to find that 55% of the homes on Cape Cod are second homes. Please give that a moment of thought. That is some serious wealth. Residents tell us that there are approximately 224,000 permanent residents and in the summer that
number swells to 750,000.
So far one of our biggest surprises is how rural this island is.
The house we are living in is about a ½ mile from the beach. We are making an effort to walk to the beach each day and appreciate the beauty and serenity of the Massachusetts Coastline. It has a different personality each day: many days the sunshine is bouncing off the water and waves, it looks cool and frigid on the overcast days and has a mysterious and inviting look on the fogged in days. The fogged in days allow your imagination to run wild with wonder about who and what is out there. This area has a lot of wind—when we have clouds they are on the move.
When moving to “the Cape” one of the first things you must do is learn the “lingo”. When speaking of the island you must learn the terms, upper Cape, mid- Cape and lower Cape. This allows the residents to know exactly what part of the island you live on. When you go to Boston or Rhode Island, you are, “off Cape”.
When learning the NE accent you must
take the R’s out of your words. Example: lobsta, chowda
We are finding that the folks on the Cape don’t have a very strong accent but it is fairly thick in and around Boston.
The people on the Cape are wonderful and friendly. It’s a small town community and attitude. Everyone treats you like family or their next-door neighbor.
We are living in Falmouth. Falmouth has 35,000 residents and is located in upper Cape. It is the birthplace of Katherine Lee Bates, a famous author, poet, and lyricist of America the Beautiful. Plenty of good food here, so far we’ve gone out for Seafood at the Quarter Deck, Chinese at the Peking Palace and Pizza at the Courtyard.
Nearby is Mashpee, which has about 15,000 residents and is located in the upper Cape. It has a lovely NE looking shopping center called The Mashpee Commons. Many local shops and restaurants along with the Gap, Coldwater Creek and Ann Taylor.
The town of Woods Hole is next to Falmouth and is darling and right on the water. This is one of the towns where you can catch a ferry out to the world famous Martha’s Vineyard. Population
of 925 and is the home of several famous institutions of marine science, including Woods Hold Oceanographic Institution, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Woods Hole Research Center, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, a USGS costal and marine geology center and the home campus of the Sea Education Association.
We were curious about how Woods Hole got its name and as of yet we have not found anyone who has an answer. Many of the towns in this area have Indian names and influence. We can recommend Shucker’s and the Fish Monger for some fine seafood.
One thing we are most excited to tell you about are CRANBERRIES, yes, cranberries! Never having seen a bog or given much thought to how a cranberry is grown or harvested, this has been fascinating. If we understand the process properly the cranberries grow on vines in the bog. A bog looks like a flooded field and it seems to be about 2 1/2 or 3 feet deep. The berries grow on the vines. They have farm equipment, please see our photos, that go in and churn the water and separate the berries from the vines. The cranberries then float on
top of the water. They gather them with rubber booms which pull them together in a small circle. A second machine is used- it looks like a giant vacuum cleaner. It sucks the berries up into the washer. The berries go through the washer and into the truck. It is amazing to watch.
So as you can read and see, we are just getting started on our stay here “on Cape” as the locals would phrase it. There are many ports and places of interest ahead of us and we look forward to sharing them with you.
There are more photos below