Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 - Winter Solstice - Where Everything Old is New Again

In between catching the first golden leaf in the act of jagged descent and crunching ankle-deep in them beneath looming tree skeletons, Autumn's activities fill up the Cape Cod calendars.  The town of Wellfleet, which is world-famous for their oysters, bravely continued with their annual October Oysterfest despite the mandatory closure of local shellfish beds for 21 days due to the detection of a norovirus.  Shellfish could still be eaten cooked, but the raw bar venders were definitely out of the picture this year.  They good-naturedly came up with nicknames such as, 'NoysterFest", "OysterMess" and "OysterStress", and the festival continued with attendance of around 17,000.  Considering Wellfleet's population of 2700, that's not too shabby.  These two pictures from their website summed it up.
I told you we take our turnips seriously. From their webpage.

Mike O'Connor at the Bird Watcher's General Store in Orleans repeated his annual pre-Thanksgiving 'Hat Full of Potatoes Day'.  Decked out in his funkiest hat in the parking lot, he could be seen generously filling hats with enough potatoes from the bed of his pickup truck to make mashed potatoes for a lot of Thanksgiving tables.  It's no secret that Mike is a vegetarian and his motto this time of year is "Save a turkey, eat potatoes!"
What Wellfleet is to oysters, Eastham is to turnips, but not just your average under-appreciated turnip.  Due to unique soil conditions, the Eastham turnip is bigger and sweeter than average.  So, it wouldn't be November in Eastham without the annual Turnip Festival and the Turnip Cookoff event.  This year's winning recipe, published in the Cape Codder, was for Eastham Turnip Puff Casserole.  I might just have to try this one.  It sounds a lot better than the turnip ice cream recipe that won a few years ago.  That one left me cold... 
That brings us to December, which has ample events all month for the energetic holiday enthusiast.  Between shifting gears to winter chores and making individual holiday plans, one really must just pick a couple of favorites.  One of mine is to visit the Nauset Model Railroad Club open house to see their 6 detailed layouts of 5 different gages.  The new display this year will be the Union Freight layout, which depicts the switching railroad that ran through Boston's busy waterfront streets for more than 100 years.  And, of course, the 'big kids' who set them up are there to talk trains with anyone who shares their passion.  I'm waiting for the grandkids to hit town before I go to this one.  
Christmas Cavalcade at Ocean Edge 2016
Another favorite is our friend Chandler's annual Christmas Cavalcade to raise money for Cape Cod's homeless shelter.  So many of Cape Cod's closely-knit musicians come together to entertain and support this cause, we've yet to make it to the end of the show.  There were some changes to the event on this 13th year, including the location.  The luxurious Ocean Edge Resort on Cape Cod Bay in Brewster agreed to host the venue since the previous space used in Orleans had been converted to a micro-brewery.  This year also offered the first Chanukah song of memory, prompting an audience member to come forward and "dance" with reckless abandon while the rest of us marveled at her lack of inhibition.  Another new act on the bill was a group of belly dancers, giving their veils and finger cymbals a workout to an Indian version of a Christmas carol.  I didn't say they were all great changes, but certainly conversation-provoking.  One of the highlights of the evening is always the musical skit put together by the popular 3-girl band, The Ticks.  This year's effort attempted the story of The Gift of the Magi and was every bit the wonderfully unpolished and enthusiastic gem as years' past.  But, the best, most magical part of the evening, as music filled the room, was the real snow that began falling outside, visible through the giant windows behind the stage.  It was the perfect backdrop and made for a beautiful ride home in the swirling white.  Wow Chandler, I don't know how you did that, but kudos, my friend!      
Fred Boak, of the Chandler Travis 3-O & Jodi Birchall, of the Rip It Ups
Okay, this one is not really one of my favorites, but I can't resist showing off the picture taken of Ron last year when he participated in Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre's community event reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Anyone can participate to read a few lines and share some holiday spirit.  He agreed to reprise his best-dressed appearance and narration this year and to allow WHAT to use the picture in their promotional ad again.  I must say, the man does dress up nicely.
Ron Daniels participating in a community reading of A Christmas Carol
 at WHAT in Wellfleet, MA
So, how do we celebrate the Winter Solstice here?   Without getting into the history of religion, suffice to say that many of the Christmas traditions have their roots in pre-Christian pagan times, and those are the ones that appeal to us.  Lights go up outside, where they brighten the long, cold winter nights.  We put them on the boat, which has become a town landmark in our yard, serving as a beacon to drivers where there is very little other illumination.  Indeed, if we don't put them up early enough, our friends and neighbors begin to prompt us.  We line fence railings to define walkways.  And yes, even a couple of welcoming trees get the twinkle treatment.  Inside, a fire is laid for soft light and warmth of a different source.   Family visits inspire 
creating delicious things to warm tummies and hearts.  If it's just the two of us on Christmas Day, we order Chinese.  For the most part, our gifts are not purchased, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday are non-events.  Some gifts are homemade, but the grand treasure hunt for 'optional gifts' begins anew each January at the transfer station swap shops, and there are gift bags for everyone.  The items can be just for a laugh, or something truly perfect for that person, and everything can be kept, traded, or contributed back to the swap shop.  It's mostly about the hunt and the fun.  
Even though January 1 is just another day in a long progression, we tend to take stock of years as a whole, so certain things come to mind as this marker quickly approaches.  It occurred to me the other day that operating a B&B is a bit like travel in reverse.  Instead of meeting people in their native surroundings, they come to us and some share what it's like to be themselves in their world.  That's a pretty easy way to 'travel'.  In the last few off-season months, we've had all kinds of visitors.  There were guests from Scotland who were avid golfers and were delighted with the information we provided about Cape Cod golf courses.  Another couple from just down the road in Sandwich admitted they were playing hookie from their jobs for a day and asked if we would waive the 2-night minimum.  For playing hookie?  Are you kidding?  Come on down!  We were fascinated to find out that one of our guests was a retired Hollywood stuntman, but not surprised that he was married to a very lovely nurse.  Another couple told us they were coming because they just needed a break from their kids.  We've hosted guests here for everything from birthdays and anniversaries to funerals.  We have a couple who live near Boston who are avid birders who know when a rare bird is spotted on Cape Cod before we hear about it, and are quickly on the phone to make their reservations. 
Crosswinds B&B 2016 "Bird Visitor of the Year"
And, speaking of bird sitings, so far we've been treated to a new species at our feeders every year.  We were beginning to think that this year might be different until I spotted something that seemed odd to me.  I was used to seeing nuthatches, but this one seemed to have an orangish belly.  With a little research, I found that we were being visited by a fairly rare, red breasted nuthatch.  When I reported that to our avid birder couple, they very matter of factly confirmed, "Oh yes, they're making a comeback."       

Crosswinds, the ketch
 And, as long as we're covering critter news, this year's red and gray squirrel relocation count came in at 55, with 38 additional trips for chipmunks.  They're like Doritos, they just keep making more.
New England Patriots and snowflakes - one of my favorite combinations!
However you celebrate your holidays, I wish you peace of mind, warmth of heart, good health and a steaming cup of gratefulness.       

1 comment:

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