Monday, July 27, 2015


Instead of a place on the Cape this week, I'm going to write about an event. Well, it happened in a place, a very special place in Harwich, where seven new affordable homes are being built by Habitat for Humanity. One of these homes will belong to a very dear friend of mine, and her two wonderful children.

I want to write this blog about Cape Cod, but not only the beauty here, but the realities underneath it. There is an entire generation of people born and raised here that are being forced to leave due to the outrageous cost of housing. Little ramshackle non-winterized cabins going for 300K, nevermind actual 3 bedroom homes for families. I'm lucky enough that my father owns a duplex and I can rent the other side. Most of my friends my age either live with family, or in government housing.

Everything is expensive here, and unfortunately, that expense also comes with the reality of very little industry. Year round jobs are not plentiful, forcing most people to work insane hours during three months of the year in order to barely scratch by through the winter.

So in this harsh reality overlying a beautiful place, it's wonderful to be a part of the Habitat program. To see these young families have a place to call home that they can actually afford. My friends kids are going to have a yard, with a fire pit, and a place for the dog to run that's infinitely better than the tiny balcony on her current apartment.

I stood by with my friends phone, recording her raising the first wall of her new home. I watched as her seven year old and three year old chased each other around the rough plywood floors, asking where their rooms would be. I put in a few volunteer hours after the first two walls were raised and the house was blessed. I loved that every nail I hammered in was building a home for my friend and her kids.

I stood beside her and pictured the house finished. The kitchen window overlooking the backyard, where the kids can play and the dog can run. It's all torn up dirt right now, with piles of lumber and other building supplies scattered around. But I can see what it will be. It's more than just the wood and nails and dirt and effort. It's the center of life. It's a place to come back to, to rest, a safe haven. Everyone deserves to have a home.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

White Cedar Swamp, Wellfleet

One of my favorite places to walk on the lower cape is the White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet. One side of the parking lot leads to a beautiful view of the ocean. I usually head over that side to spend a moment looking at the water. One evening I caught the sunset at just the right time.
The other side of the parking lot has a trail leading down into the swamp. There are a bunch of fire roads back there as well. I haven't taken the time to really explore them. The main walk is a circle, and there is a boardwalk through the cedar swamp. It is a beautiful walk throughout the year, though when it snows badly, the park service closes it.

During the spring, the swamp still has little caches of ice and snow in the shadows that don't ever really see light. The moss turns green and the ferns and little vines start twining their way up the cedar trunks. It smells like wet ground and foliage, a thick, earthy smell that I've always found comforting. The boardwalk shifts and cracks the little bits of ice that hide under it's perpetual shade. There aren't any frogs yet, but every once and a while you catch the hint of a squirrel or chipmunk scuttling through the close knit trees.

I don't get to walk much in the summer because of my work schedule. And honestly, as an introvert, I prefer to walk alone. During the summer, the small woodsy paths are full of people. I hope they enjoy themselves, genuinely I do, but I prefer to spend my sparse free time enjoying the solitude of my backyard. Besides, due to the nature of swamps, summertime also means that there are mosquitoes everywhere. My husband and tried to go for a walk once, much later in the spring than we normally stop going, and the mosquitoes were so thick that we could barely see. It was like looking through a screen. Needless to say, we left quickly, running like crazy people, swinging our arms to try and keep from losing all of our blood.

Fall is a beautiful time to visit the cedar swamp. The masses of people are gone, leaving a few stragglers, but solitude is achievable. Cedars don't change much over the seasons, but the scattering of other plants loose their leaves and start to wither. The frogs are still out early enough in the fall. They hop and squeak at you as you pass, making little splashes. The sun plays through the trunks of the trees and dances on the water.

In the winter, the quiet is absolute. The only sound is the crunch of the snow under your boots, the swish of your coat. The spider web of water is frozen, a thin layer of glass. The moss is still green, though its a darker, more struggling color than the bright blazing spring and summer. The ice breaks as you walk along the boardwalk, creaking and crunching. The sun plays through the trees, reflecting off the snow and ice. It's the most beautiful in the winter. And I know how lucky I am that I am one of the few who is here to see it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Welcome to Cape Cod

I've honestly been at a loss as far as this blog goes. I am a brutally honest person, which frequently gets me into trouble. I'm better at weaving a long story than writing snippets about things. What things to write about? Who will care? What can I write that won't incriminate/surprise/irritate/embarrass the people in my life? It's why I stick to fiction where I can cleverly hide my real life inside obscurity for the safety of the innocent.

That being said, I need to write something. Been struggling with this for a while, obviously, if anyone cares to take note of the lack of posting on this thing. Should I stick to funny little things? Should I talk about life on Cape Cod? The real life, not the fun fun times of a tourist? Can I write about that without being overly harsh on the visitors that, while necessary, make life extremely difficult and often unpleasant? I'll give it a try.

Welcome to Cape Cod. It is a beautiful place full of beaches and fish restaurants, a horrific overpopulation of seals that people thought were cute until they attracted droves of sharks, whale watches, charter boats, and tourist traps every few feet selling the same brightly colored beach chairs and bottles full of white sand that clearly did not come from Cape Cod. I'm particularly fond of one entrepreneur who sells empty capped bottled with Cape Cod Air written on them,

I was born on Cape Cod, but my parents moved here when they were children from Connecticut in the 70's.(Both my mother and father from CT, from different parts of the state on different years). There was a building boom around that time and Cape Cod was an affordable place to live, and my grandfather was a mason. My family has lived here long enough to be free of the term washashore, given to anyone who moves to the cape. They have become locals after living here for a few decades. It takes that long to belong here, and the true born Cape Codders, like myself, are a very strange bunch.

I spent part of my childhood living in and around Boston while my mother completed college, though I always felt like the Cape was my home. I was here on weekends with my father, and during holidays and vacation weeks. I also lived in central Mass for a few years, but moved permanently back to the Cape to live with my dad when I was 15. 15 years later, I am still here.

So while I have always considered Cape Cod my home, I have a different view of it than someone who never had the chance to live anywhere else. It's an interesting place where 9 months of the year its small towns, and 3 months its a crazy madhouse that puts cities to shame. Most people make the majority of their yearly income in those 3 months, and in reality, 2 seeing as June doesn't start hopping till the kids get out of school. The winters are long and there is very little work and pretty much everything is closed.

So each week I'll write a little something about what it's like to live on Cape Cod as a local. I'll share crazy stories about the things people say and do when they are on vacation. I've always said that they take your brain at the bridge as a toll. Don't worry, the names and places will be cleverly disguised to protect the innocent, as previously stated. If people enjoy reading it, that's wonderful. If nothing else, it's a chance to learn about a particular perspective on a place and way of life.