When we closed on our beach house last fall, I was longing for summer. I looked forward to long days at the beach, warm evenings on the deck, and starry nights with our family. While I know this coming summer will be wonderful, I can’t tell you how much joy and peace winter on Cape Cod has brought us. It has been the best surprise.
We’ve spent nearly every weekend down the Cape since October, escaping the busy-ness of our (equally wonderful, albeit noisier) lives in the city. There is something so calm and lovely about the off season.
We spent much of yesterday at the Cape, measuring walls and windows and cabinets in the new house while my parents helped us tremendously by taking the babes for a mystery ride. After dinner at Brax Landing, we headed back to the city with a plan (and a healthy to do list) and some sand in my favorite peace moccasins.
The sun is shining in South Boston and baby Nick slept for nearly 6 hours in a row (it’s been a struggle to get more than a couple hours of sleep lately; please reference the dark circles under my eyes and/or my lack of patience for more information). The morning is aglow with possibility. And piles of laundry.
You know how I preach getting your Sunday things done on Saturday? I have a feeling, this week, they’re getting done on Tuesday or next Thursday. Or two weeks from tomorrow. There’s something to be said for taking it easy when you can.
When we were kids, our parents would take us on “Mystery Rides” on summer evenings spent on the Cape. I think we usually ended up at Sundae School or Chatham Light. Or maybe one of the bayside beaches.
I still love a good mystery ride.
The rain let up yesterday afternoon just in time for a late afternoon Mystery Ride with our own babes. We were at the lighthouse on Sunday and it was too early for sundaes (actually… it’s never too early), but I had the perfect (sort of mysterious) place in mind.
I’ve wanted to visit the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich for ages. It’s hidden among conservation land, at the end of a long, unpaved path. Just when I thought we were lost, I started to smell the lavender. Just heavenly.
We arrived just before the little shop closed, picking up a bunch of lavender that had been harvested the day before. The gentleman there encouraged us to walk around, pointing us in the direction of a castle and some fairy doors.
I don’t know who loved this little set-up more, me or Grace. It was enchanting– the whole farm was, really. We stumbled upon a bunch of kindness rocks and fairy houses, all the while being lulled by the calming lavender fields around us. I bet I could take a legit nap there. Or at the very least, chill out for 20 entire minutes.
CAPE COD LAVENDER FARM
I have a feeling we’ll be back to the Cape Cod Lavender Farm for a plant or two before the summer’s over. It has definitely earned a spot on our Mystery Ride destination list.
The details: The Cape Cod Lavender Farm is located at 41 Weston Woods Road in Harwich. It is open 10 AM – 4 PM and 12 – 4 PM on Sundays.
Who needs a vacation alarm clock (set for 3 hours earlier than you desire to wake up), when you have a toddler at the foot of your bed?
I woke up like this. With Grace pinching my toes and yelling, “Hellooooo!”
In an effort to spare the rest of our family the 4:30 wake-up call over the 4th of July weekend, we snuck out for some early morning walks down to the beach. The Cape might be my favorite place on Earth. Except for the place where they make popcorn (I’ve never been to a popcorn factory, but I just know it’s magical).
Not a bad way to start the day.
We covered 3.5 miles on Friday on our own, and 2.5 miles on Saturday with my brother and sister-in-law and their own mini-human alarm clock, my niece.
6 AM pajama parties on the beach are the best.
And with the entire world still sleeping, we had the beach to ourselves and our pick of the prettiest shells.
Any day we are lucky enough to wake up at the Cape (even if it’s at 4 AM), we are lucky enough.
Every now and then, it’s good to get away. I don’t think it’s considered playing hooky when you’ve made it clear you’ll be out of the office and are using one of the vacation days you’ve been saving up since 2007, but it still feels a bit sneaky to be at the beach on a random Wednesday. That’s where I ended up yesterday, enjoying plenty of sun (responsibly, mostly from under an umbrella like a good pale Irish America gal), catching up on some reading, and splashing in the waves with my one-year-old niece.
I picked up my younger brother bright and early and cruised over the Bourne Bridge while blasting James Taylor, quintessential Cape music. Other artists who belong on a Cape playlist (for a shortcut, simply play the JT Pandora station):
The Doobie Brothers
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Don Henley (and/or The Eagles)
Bonus track (for those who like something a little more current… but not actually current) and a random anecdote: Back to the Earth by Rusted Root. This song was playing when our catamaran sailed back into the harbor after Nick and I did some island hopping on our honeymoon. It was like God himself was DJ-ing our lives (but he probably wasn’t… mostly because I am sure there are more important things to attend to, and I don’t know if he has an iPod); regardless, the timing and sentiment was so perfect.
It’s probably worth mentioning that when the day is done and you’re heading back to the city, feeling a touch overtired and under-caffeinated, you should trade James Taylor for Skrillex. Safety first.
Last summer, we were enjoying a day at the beach with my parents when I overheard quite the conversation. One little girl yelled to her little girl friend, as they splashed at the shoreline,
“If we drink the magic potion, we can be baby mermaids foreverrrrr.”
I’ve adopted this as a mantra of sorts. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be baby mermaids forever? My magic potion is a blend of daily vitamins, 3 peanut M&M’s, some spinach, and two drops of anti-wrinkle cream.
Speaking of being forever young, I sort of love that Forever Young (Youth Group’s version played during Napoleon Dynamite’s dance scene) found its way onto a Jay-Z album. I’m a bit obsessed with the video.
When my mom turned fifty a year older, my siblings and I had the genius idea to buy her a pair of love birds. I think, technically, I had the idea and convinced them to go along with it… but once you hear how this stroke of genius ended (possibly with an actual bird stroke), you’ll realize I’m not bragging. More like, taking the blame.
I did a little research (not a lot), and Andrea and I went where the pets go (Petco) and picked up a very cute pair of peach-faced loved birds. They were packaged in what was basically an unmarked Munchins box. The sales person pet specialist told us they’d chirp the whole way home. The didn’t move or make a peep. An anxiety riddled half hour passed. Then came the “how to move them from the munchkin box to the cage” debacle. Several anxiety riddle hours passed. Somehow, the transfer was completed.
Allegedly, the birds were from Madagascar, but they could’ve been from Medford, for all we knew. To this day, we have no idea if they were male or female or one of each, but we thought they were both males and named them Brewster and Harwich, for our favorite places on the Cape. We loved how surprised Mom was when she and Dad got home from her birthday dinner. She asked, “Are these really for me?” That was my favorite part. Of the entire lives of these birds.
Which… um… for Brewster was two months. Like many other birds across the country, Brewster sadly met his end on Thanksgiving. Mom and I took him to an animal hospital, where he was incubated in what looked like an aquarium. Apparently he had some disease (weird, our Petco Pal said those missing feathers were due to molting…) and needed to be euthanized.
I am not making any of this up.
So while the vets prepared a very small needle, my mom and I stood in the ICU, which was essentially a small room filled with various dying species, including a parrot whose feet had been bitten off by his cage mate and a dog experiencing kidney failure.
I don’t think I have ever experienced anything more awkward.
We worried that Harwich would be depressed without his questionably better half, but he seemed to thrive as an only birdchild for several years. He was an adventurous fellow, completing solo flights to the top of the Christmas tree and to the dark recesses behind the entertainment center. If I was the Bird Whisperer, I would imagine his favorite part of the day was when my parents uncovered and fed him and he got to stare out the window at the uncivilized birds in the yard.
Sadly, just days after this Thanksgiving, Harwich… flew to heaven (I figure if all dogs go to heaven, lovebirds probably do too). Bye, bye, birdie. Hello, hello, shopping for new pets for Mom and Dad. I’m kidding… I promise I will never do that again.
Also On Tap for Today:
Puppy/human obedience class (must remember to not wear high heels)
After over twenty days of rain in June, the sun came out just in time for the 4th of July. Enjoying a long, sunny holiday weekend was just what the doctor ordered for New England’s weather induced cabin fever. The fact that my BlackBerry went haywire only helped my efforts to unplug (with the exception of the wii), unwind and have some good ol’ fashioned fun down the Cape.
We hit very little traffic on Friday and enjoyed fantastic beach weather that afternoon, and even better weather on the 4th. We walked out on the flats at low tide in Brewster, laughed with the South Carolina cousins about summers past and family members not present (not you, Jimmy) and my carnivorous relatives enjoyed the catch of the day.
There were amateur fireworks on the beach (complete with a gong that rang after each explosion…) and plenty of (unintentionally hilarious) patriotic tee shirts. For all the doom and gloom that’s been hanging over our rain soaked state, it was so nice to be outside, enjoying the beautiful weather with our fellow Americans. And our new Canadian aunt.
Some things change from summer to summer (the Friendly’s that became Roo Bar is now something equally forgetable), but others never change: the worth it lines at Sundae School, the feeling of sand in the sheets, and the unexpected combination of great food and horrible service. Nick and I had dinner at the 400 East, where our waitress brought twice as many oysters as Nick ordered. I assume, if you love oysters, that’s a good thing. She subsituted my mesclun salad for some sort of tuna salad with shrimp and didn’t bring our sides until we had asked for them. Twice. Two nights later we enjoyed dinner with my parents and Andrea at the Oyster Company. The food was delicious (I had a Caprese salad, Andrea had salmon I think?, Nick and my dad had the ahi tuna and my mom had linguini with lobster). Everything was perfect until our waitress went missing in action. My mom left a comment with the bill, resulting in us fleeing the restaurant before the waitress read “Wait staff is very busy!” and spiked a Married Berry martini on our heads.
Having waitressed at arguably the worst restaurant on the Cape (following the pattern above, it was, at the time an Irish pub, later a lounge aptly named Why and this summer, an Argentinian grill), I can sympathize with the stress that comes with tending to impatient tourists, salty locals, and everyone in between. At the same time, it’s July. You’ve had over a month to make mistakes. Just saying.
When it sadly came time to head home, along with the rest of universe, I felt fortunate to be armed with my Tom Tom. We hopped off Route 6 in Mashpee and take the Service Road to exit 2, bypassing an hour or so of traffic. You’re welcome for that top secret information.
And there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.
Also On Tap for Today:
July/August issue of Women’s Health, p. 136: 25 Amazing Summer Meals. Time to get cracking!
How did you celebrate the 4th? Did it involve a gong?