Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Beach in Winter

People who only come to Wellfleet in the summer do not know what they are missing on cool winter days when beaches are deserted, except for the occasional seagull or seal. A surfer was out at LeCount Hollow Beach this afternoon, an amazing feat considering the ice cubes that bobbed in the surf, and must have shared our amazement at the beauty of the landscape. “Looks like the Sinai,” Sven said to me as we passed a particularly stark view of sky and cliff and sand. With the blue sky and bluer ocean as a backdrop for our walk, we went all the way down to Marconi and back. The foamy waves, like liquid silver, rushed across the beach. On the way home, we paused to take in Great Pond. How fortunate we are to live in Wellfleet!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Wellfleet had a blizzard yesterday after a week of spectacular sunsets. The schools are closed today. When Sven drove down to the village last night, snowplows were out, with visibility close to zero. The wind was howling all night long. Our doors and screens turned white as Old Man Winter tossed gust after gust of diagonal snow at Chez Sven. This morning the newsman announced over a foot of fresh snow had fallen in Wellfleet, slightly less than in Plymouth, which got 14 inches. Over the weekend, Sven and I made the decision to move back into the main house the last week of February in order to accommodate a cottage guest the first week of March. Cozy Seagull Cottage is now available the weekends of March 14 & 15 and 28 & 29. Calling all takers!

Friday, January 25, 2008

A January Day in the Life?

I usually wrote a Day in the Life every month, but what with the renovation, innkeeping has not been my preoccupation the past few months. So, I have been writing a lot. I even took an online essay course. Every once and a while I go over to the main house to be sure the carpenters have not covered up a skylight and are leaving holes for plumbing in the right places. We now have a bathtub, which is exciting. Our renovation project can fortunately boast a charming plumber, great carpenters, and a diligent electrician. The foam folks will come February 5 or 6 after the wiring and plumbing inspections. The cabinetmaker is busy creating customs cabinets. It is fun to see the project slowly come together. Meanwhile, Sven and I accept reservations for spring and continue to take photos of Wellfleet in winter. I was happy to capture these black birds, below, who always seem to hang out down by the harbor, as if watching over the construction of the town's new marina.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What's Up in Wellfleet?

Anyone proceeding along Route 6 towards Wellfleet these days cannot help but notice the mounds of earth excavated in the large lot beside Shepley’s Lumber, site of the future Catholic Church. Across the street, new information has been posted as WHAT inaugurates its first winter program: Whatflix, independent films shown at the Julie Harris Stage. Meanwhile, Counter Productions in Provincetown offered a fine production of “Doubt.” Here at Chez Sven, renovation continues on our northern wing. The yellow pine beams are up and do they ever look nice!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Beach as Comfort

Sunday night a dear friend passed away. Malcolm was related to Lorenzo Dow Baker, famous as the Wellfleet resident who made a fortune in bananas. Malcolm also happened to be married to my cousin Natasha. I remember their wedding at Tanglewood. My mom was so proud of how Natasha had managed to catch herself such a fine husband, tall, tan from Wellfleet's summer sun, and a doctor to boot. Their girls were the same ages as mine and came here every summer, an event recorded for posterity in a hilarious series of line-up photos. Sven and I went down to the sea this afternoon with Malcolm in mind. The waves were crashing on the shore, foam spraying up in our faces. Malcolm loved the sea. I remember how at least one day of each annual vacation was set aside for a fishing trip. He would take off from Duck Harbor in a rubber raft with one or two of his boys. I don’t think it really mattered whether they caught any fish or not. Being out on Cape Cod Bay made him happy. Malcolm was one of those people who could have fit in anywhere, at any time in history. I could imagine him on the trail from Africa to Europe, dressed in animal skins, or on the frontier, meeting Davy Crocket, or with Thomas Jefferson, standing in the background, clad in a frock coat and white wig. You could be sure he had played some important role in whatever had just transpired but had decided to let others take the credit. It must have been hard for such a handsome fellow to be so self-effacing, but he pulled it off with dignity and grace. Malcolm was generous of spirit, a model husband and dad to his five children, highly admired in his field – psychology. We live, we die, the world turns. Our walk today reminded me of how we all fit into this thing called life ...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dead Calm

Not much going on in Wellfleet today, dead calm. I read in the Banner about the summer worker crisis – business owners will have to be inventive to stay open since the H-2B immigrant workers cap has been reached nationwide. Soon Help Wanted signs will appear in shop windows. For now, most local stores and restaurants are closed, with the exception of Herridge Books and, of course, Wellfleet Marketplace. Sven and I drove over to Duck Harbor where we saw a seal, unusual in the bay. Earlier, we had walked to Dyer Pond and surprised a naked lady, who dove into the water at the sight of us and swam to shore.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


With the burst of warmth in the air this morning, Wellfleet has the feel of spring. Fortunately, we are springing forward with renovation. The wallboard folks stopped by to give an estimate. The design for the kitchen cupboards arrived and was accepted by the building inspector. And, now I have received an estimate from March & Martin for bio-based insulation. I would have loved to go bio, but the cost proved to be almost three times more. Anyone who has read my earlier blog on green insulation knows how I labored over this decision. We got three estimates. I decided to go with Icynene because it has already proved itself for years. Foam was not my first choice, but, hey! We live in the woods and one goal is to keep varmints out. Icynene will provide R-28.8 on the underside of the roof. The bio in bio-based is less than 50% of the product. So-o-o we are off and running. Check out the great period carpentry work on the windows, created by Rick Buckley. Shingles are all done. Electricity is almost hooked up. This week the floor goes back in ...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Glimpse of Wellfleet's Past ...

On New Year’s Eve, Sven and I attended a local party where one of the participants was celebrating an advanced birthday. He had grown up in Wellfleet and could remember back when Route 6 didn’t run straight from Orleans to Wellfleet. His childhood dated even farther into the past. Whiting was cheap and often served at dinner. The town’s folk could shop at three grocery stores and buy medicine at two pharmacies. He remembered playing basketball in the space now occupied by the Left Bank Gallery and told us there was a dance hall in the lot where Shepley sells lumber. We all lamented the disappearance of the fishing community. This man told us there had been an ice house on Long Pond. He even had known the Chequessett Inn, a spectacular harbor building on pillars that disintegrated one winter, ripped from its moorings by ice floes. Eels were abundant back then. The local folk seem to have hunted them by torchlight and harpoon, as Sven remembers from Sweden. (In order to skin an eel, put a nail in its head and peel off the skin.) What a different place Wellfleet is today! Last week the Banner reported that an analysis of pond water revealed high levels of mercury and warned against eating fish from ponds, although swimming remains okay. At sunset, Sven and I drove to Duck Harbor where half a dozen Wellfleetians were taking in the beauty. I was not the only one trying to capture the sunset!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Where the Candidates Stand on Global Warming

Wellfleet glistens under a coat of fresh ocean-effect snow as 2008 begins. Icicles hang from the roof. It is too cold for outdoor work, so the carpenters will not finish shingling until tomorrow. Today I received a greeting from Sheri Gibbs of White Pines Victorian Lodge in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin who mentions a Web site which I am delighted to pass on to blog readers: "This is a really neat site for keeping track of exactly what each candidate for president is doing or is promising with regard to a big list of environmental issues. The differences are amazing, so, if we're concerned about our air, water, and global warming, this is a great way to find out where it'll be best to place our votes in the primary, give us the best hopes for a pres. who might care about us canaries in the coal mines! I clicked on Chart the Candidates and it shows all of them in one nice page, each issue and how they stand on it in a column under each of their names -- couldn't be quicker or easier"