Saturday, August 26, 2017

August, 2017 - Heartbreak Hill

It's time for the perennials to take center stage.
In the Boston Marathon, 'Heartbreak Hill' is an ascent about 20 miles from the start.  For innkeepers, it's the beginning of August during High Season.  Usually by August 1, I'm frankly a bit numb with the coming's and going's of the summer experience.  The faces, names and personalities keep changing every few days, not really enough time to get to know anyone.  The kitchen timer is constantly reminding me that it's time to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or is it the dryer to the folding area, or to switch the sprinklers to another flower bed, or check the oven, or what was it set for again?  Who's on first?  I make frequent trips to the grocery store on purpose to be able to provide only the freshest food in the Suites and there's a constant surge of traffic to navigate, except of course, when the road turns into a parking lot full of indignation as we all wait for whatever stopped the traffic to clear up again. My enthusiastic gardening also grew a sinus infection that put more of the burden of chores on Ron for a couple of days, not that he complained, but I truly felt like I'd hit Heartbreak Hill when his Crosswinds tag team partner was down for the count.  

AND THEN, something small happened that was a sweet reminder of why we love what we do, and that August was not only going to be okay, it would be our eighth triumphant High Season here.  One of our guests knocked on our door to let us know she was leaving to go home and to thank us for a great stay.  I was struck by how beautiful she looked, her smiling face glowing and happy in the sunshine.  I remembered what she'd looked like when she got here, a bit haggard and pale.  The transformation was remarkable and also gratifying.  It was worth dozens of trips up and downstairs to the basement laundry and braving the roads.  To be able to play a small part in so many peoples' lives that make them feel comfortable and pampered in a home away from home, while they refresh their spirits and leave happier than when they came is quite simply a wonderful gift for us.  But seriously, it did come just in time.

Some people have service dogs;  I now have a Comfort Fish named Ray.
Another thing I love about hosting guests is the occasional surprise that is left behind for us.  Sometimes it's a gift they found while sightseeing and thought we'd enjoy, other times a wonderfully thoughtful comment in the guest book that makes us feel appreciated.  Once, we got a scrabble tile in the mail from some avid scrabble players who noted we were missing a 'u' in our game.  But some of the most fun surprises are the artwork left behind.  Here's an example of a sketch just left on the guest book by one of our very talented guests, of the other two guests she came with.  It's a keeper!

Back in 2010 when we first opened our B&B for business, we found out about Airbnb quite by accident.  It was a small company founded by three guys being resourceful and making the most of what they had, which at the time was an extra air mattress and an idea to offer it to travelers for a fee.  That's actually where the name 'Air'-bnb came from.  The company has grown by phenomenal leaps and bounds, helping people all over the world become better hosts and guests, but surprisingly their size has done nothing to diminish their stellar customer service, nor to sway their moral compass by money.  Last summer, when they received complaints from guests who felt they'd been discriminated against by hosts because of their race, the owners of Airbnb took steps to make sure all hosts knew and practiced their non-discrimination policy.  They went one better this summer when it came to their attention that someone was attempting to book a large number of Airbnb accommodations for white supremacists attending the unfortunate Charlottesville, VA demonstration.  They quickly denied them services and expelled them from their platform.  This is truly putting your money where your mouth is and I'm proud to continue as a longtime Airbnb host.


Eclipse watchers on Fort Hill
Not to be eclipsed by solar eclipse fever, the month of August is going out on a particularly feisty note.  Eastham caught its share of the giant storm that tracked across the country and we woke up to 8" of rain and many flooded streets and homes.  Thankfully, ours was just the basement, but lightening did put an end to my computer and it's like scratching my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time to figure out how to reach my old files on the new one.  The storm also gobbled up part of a steep dune in front of the iconic Beachcomer restaurant and nightclub, including a car and half of a parking lot.  As for the eclipse, I haven't seen the stats, but I'll bet money that the Salt Pond Center, which hosted a National Seashore Ranger-led program to watch it had a record number of people in the facility.  We took a walk up Fort Hill and found many viewers who offered to share their special safety glasses with those of us who came unprepared.  Then, the following week brought the closest-to-shore shark vs. seal attack on record at Nauset Beach.   It was a bloody spectacle that spotlighted the town of Orleans on the national news.  It wasn't long after that event that Coast Guard Beach in Eastham followed suit, showing shark tooth bites on a local's surfboard on national news.  I'll have more on the subject of sharks vs. Cape Cod in September's blog.  

Somehow amidst what should feel like the middle of summer, I kept getting this feeling that autumn was breathing over my shoulder, ready to take its place.  Surely it was too early to feel that way.  It was still in the 80's and the garden pots were heavy with ripe tomatoes, the hibiscus faces were just starting to pop into full glory, the highways were still full of surfboards, bicycles and kayaks atop cars, so was this just wishful thinking?  And, then I realized that it's starting to get dark around 7:30, the time I usually have to tear myself away from the garden to make dinner.  The sunset times we tell our guests so they can catch a beautiful First Encounter Beach sunset have changed drastically, and one can literally feel the season ebbing as darkness draws us inside for the night, and the occasional group of leaves start to show color and drop.  When Memorial Day comes, Labor Day seems like an ocean away.  And, suddenly that ocean is a small puddle and we wondered what all the fuss was about.        
August sunset over Cape Cod Bay
10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - LABOR DAY!


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