Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to Report on Halloween in Wellfleet?

I thought of writing about the numerous ghouls in front of the most decorated house on Route 6. They pop up every year in early October and make quite a spectacle. I did not get out to take the photograph, though. It has been a busy week here at Chez Sven!

Another great Halloween topic would have been background to the Trunk-or-Treat program that a couple of new Wellfleetians created two or three years back. “Trunk or Treat 2009” takes place at the drive-in. A friend in the village told me she gets fewer trick-or-treaters now that most of them have parents who choose this easy and fun alternative to going house to house.

I thought of wandering around the local cemetery by moonlight and photographing some of the exquisite old graves. Another year perhaps ….

I could also have written an excellent post about haunted houses. There’s a short film on the subject in the library collection. Someone interviewed Wellfleetians who thought their houses were haunted. Since we have a spirit, which is often around, the topic had appeal.

Or, how about a local witch? Wellfleet’s Tracy Plaut will again transform herself into a witch to benefit the Sampson Fund at Pleasant Bay Animal Hospital in Harwich. It’s hard to imagine Tracy looking scary, dressed in black, wearing green make-up, but last year, at the wheel of her car, she scared quite a few people on Route 6. (Apparently, Cape Codders love to have their favorite pet photographed with Tracy holding a paw.)

Indecision and a last-minute booking of the cottage caught up with me. No time. So, I simple photographed two local pumpkins. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Restaurant Owners Meet in Effort to Coordinate Winter Dining Options

Yesterday I attended a meeting at Stone Lion Inn, organized so the restaurant owners, who have year-round liquor licenses, could meet and inform each other of planned dates for winter closings. Wellfleetians are independent folks and, gazing at the scowling faces around the table, I realized Office of Tourism head Rex Peterson might have a tough time with this group. However, a nudge was necessary since bed & breakfast guests had to visit neighboring towns for fancy meals in December two years ago. It was great Selectman Ira Wood chose to attend because Ira has an easy charm and much credibility. Beside Rex sat Alex Hay, from the Economic Development Committee, a young man going places – this weekend up to Maine for his wedding! Alex has already played a major role in the economic development of Wellfleet, convincing Main Street shop owners to band together and form an association. Gradually the atmosphere lightened as Janet produced muffins and served coffee. Boris Villatte, of PB Boulangerie Bistro, present with his partner’s wife, Valeria, announced their restaurant would be open as soon as possible and all winter. Their upbeat attitude at doing business in Wellfleet floated around the room like bubbles from freshly-poured champagne. Lennie, of D’Italia's Pizza, suggested a display list and offered to create a poster that would show tourists what was open when. Carol, from The Bookstore, above, said a similar list of B&Bs would be helpful to restaurant owners. Both Janet and I felt a lot was accomplished. Here is the finalized list.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wellfleet Fisherman Loses Boat, Survives

No ice tonight on Wellfleet Harbor, but the ocean is certainly very cold. Chris Merl, Wellfleet fisherman, was on the New England cable news this evening because his boat went down in frigid waters and he survived. Check out the story here.

How Swine Flu Affects the Innkeeping Profession

Sven and I went to the skin doctor today. While at the Harwich office, where we have waited up to three hours at a time in the past, it occurred to me the H1N1 virus could be floating around the facility. A little voice inside my head took up the mantra, “Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands!” When I venture into public places now, I always keep an eye out for the restroom. If an innkeeper becomes sick with swine flu, he/she must turn guests away.

I concluded over a month ago that Rule One is to stop shaking hands. Sven and I like to meet guests at the door. A firm handshake creates a positive impression and adds to the homey atmosphere of our bed & breakfast. Now a friendly wave across the yard will have to suffice. This change, called “social distancing,” proves harder to put into practice than one might think. Extending my right hand to greet guests has become a reflex.

Rule Two? Wash Hands. Wash hands after that unintended handshake but also after a trip into town for provisions or to the library. I’m not crazy about instant hand sanitizer and wash my hands more often than ever. Since most places offer soap with fragrance, parabens and God-only-knows what else, I have started carrying a small bottle of Trillium Organics liquid soap around in my purse. (See Trillium’s neat page called Toxins Avoided here.)

Rule Three? In this unusual flu season, innkeepers need to stock up on green cleansers and use them with more assiduity than ever in case a guest may already have H1N1. Infected people can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick.

If a guest cancels a reservation due to swine flu, should the innkeeper reimburse the deposit? I handled such a situation last week by allowing guests to reschedule. Giving folks such leeway does represent a loss of income. But swine flu is a valid reason to stay home. So, I adjust accordingly.

For a more detailed, legal view on how to behave during the swine flu outbreak, go here.

We have only one reservation for November, and this, I think is due to the arrival of winter. People are once again cocooning. The best way to avoid H1N1 is to stay home.

What new behaviors have you adopted to beat the risk of swine flu?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wellfleet Named Great Foodie Destination

A non-joke at town meeting yesterday got the biggest laugh of the evening. Wellfleet has been named to a Top-Ten-Foodie-Destinations list by When someone at the microphone brought this up, a twitter spread across the school gymnasium, as if people were asking their neighbors, “Did he really say what I think he said?” Then, as the information sank in, a few people let our loud guffaws of incredulity. But I checked just now, and it’s true: places Wellfleet ninth on its list. I had no idea our restaurants had gained such notoriety. What surprised me was mention of The Bookstore, certainly a good place to eat year-round but hardly the eatery I would place at the front of the pack in summer, which is when the real competition revs up for diners. I sent a lot of folks to Pearl this summer, which could claim the Best View of the Marina, above, if such an award existed, and Winslow’s Tavern, the place to go for a Bloody Mary during Oysterfest. (If we were giving awards, Mac’s Seafood would win for nighttime exterior, don’t you think?) Many Wellfleetians, feeling the pinch of hard economic times, do not eat out at restaurants, which is totally understandable, considering a meal for two people, with wine, costs $100. Perhaps this is why residents voted the increase of .75%, which will go to the town, rather than the state? Mac Hay was eloquent in explaining why he opposed this tax. Other speakers pointed out that local staff – waiters, waitresses – will be the ones to suffer because tourists will simply lower the amount left as a tip. This was why I voted against the tax. And, speaking of restaurants, I heard this week that the oven delivered to PB Boulangerie Bistro proved defective, so it was sent back. Hence, the new French restaurant and bakery will not be able to open as soon as expected…

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Important Issues Decided at Special Town Meeting

What has many feet, numerous heads, and one voice? Town meeting! Yesterday I attended Special Town Meeting where several important issues were under debate. Wellfleet voted to harness wind power with its first wind turbine, to be placed behind the White Crest Beach parking lot, one of the windiest spots on the east coast. A request for an enormous sum of money was amended to provide a smaller amount instead for the eventual repair of Lieutenant Island Road. A meals tax of .75% passed to my regret, but a 2% increase in the hotel tax did not. Citizens embraced the transfer of town land for the eventual creation of a Care Campus, and a change in the demolition delay by-law to give the Historical Review Board more control following dramatic change to what used to be the “Spit and Chatter Club,” now Pearl Restaurant. There was lots of humor, which helped us remain seated for three hours. Dr. Prazak described the present Outer Cape Health building as being “like a pie, crumbling on the outside,” but "full of great ingredients” in a moving speech to urge support for the eventual creation of the Care Campus. When a Selectman urged a vote on a final issue so we could all go home, the town moderator scolded, “You don’t go home until I say you go home!” And finally, a member of the Historical Review Board described interaction with a young tourist, standing awestruck on Main Street, who told him, “You don’t realize what you have here! This is an original New England fishing village!” Citizens may not see “this beautiful, worn-out, funky town” the same way, he said in urging passage of the demolition delay by-law. I loved how Wellfleet was deescribed, and felt proud to participate in making choices for our "funky" old town.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why Oceanview Property Is Not the Best Investment

Fall is a time when prospective buyers traditionally browse real estate offerings on the Outer Cape in the hope of acquiring a small piece of paradise. Wellfleet prices do not seem to have changed much with the recession. Often sellers here simply will take a house off the market and hunker down to wait for better times. That’s what happened to a neighbor’s property. It was for sale, then it wasn’t. I’ll be curious to see when the FOR SALE sign pops up again. What is new are signs advertising auctions. There’s a motel in Eastham that goes on the block next month. Most recently, an Ocean View Drive house (740) was sold this way for $847,000, last Friday. Known as “Sea Cliff,” the property offers “ultimate seclusion with endless Atlantic views, sitting high upon a sand dune in the Cape Cod National Seashore.” The three-bedroom villa next door is also for sale, through a local real estate agent, for $1,150,000. No one can deny the thrill of looking out the window at the Atlantic, nor the reality that such an exclusive location can command exorbitant summer rental fees. Both houses are, however, right on the edge of a dune. I noted an interesting phrase in the property description: “And now all approvals are in place for an even safer location for the house on the dune along with a fourth bedroom,” ie. invest here and your investment may fall into the Atlantic at some point, unless you spend even more money on relocation. When Sven and I were walking at LeCount yesterday, we saw evidence of dune erosion further down the beach. While dune property might seem perfect for a weekend hideaway, living above the Atlantic year round is not extremely sensible: there’s wind, fog, flying sand in a nor'easter or hurricane. Fortunately, Sven and I do not have the wherewithal to even imagine being tempted by such an investment. We are simply happy driving along Ocean View, where the horizon fills up with blue sea to the north, east, and south. It’s a beautiful part of the National Seashore, which belongs to us all …

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why We Enjoy Green Innkeeping = Great Guests!

Chez Sven attracts the nicest people! Check out the lovely presents our cottage guests, both artists, left us. This drawing of sunflowers is awesome. And, we will definitely enjoy the MoMA calendar. They also left notes: “Thanks for a great cottage!” “Thanks for enriching our lives!” The pleasure of meeting folks like these two ladies is certainly the most rewarding part of innkeeping, and a total surprise to me and Sven, something we did not expect when we began this profession. The ladies love Wellfleet and come back every fall to spend time on our infinitely beautiful beaches, like LeCount Hollow, where we walked today…

Join the Movement to Get Toxic Chemicals Out of Drinking Water

Wellfleet is holding a Special Town Meeting tomorrow. Citizens will vote on the placement of a wind turbine near White Crest Beach, pricey repair of Lieutenant Island Road, and transfer of town land to Outer Cape Health for the establishment of a Care Campus. Prohibition of herbicidal use in Wellfleet is not on the warrant, which is unfortunate. The Selectmen decided state and Federal law would trump any such local prohibition (and posted a document called Pesticide Issues to the town Web site). By Federal law, NStar is obligated to remove brush under the power lines. State law permits the use of herbicides. Well, perhaps it’s time to rethink these laws on Cape Cod where drinking water comes from a sole source aquifer? People search out our green bed & breakfast because we serve organic food, use non-toxic cleaners, filter drinking water. Our guests are onto something. Toxic chemicals are bad for health.

This week, in Falmouth, Eileen Gunn spoke to members of the Conservation Commission in her town. She reports, “They really had no knowledge of the whole issue or the plan for Falmouth. After I expressed issues with the soil half-lives of the five chemicals and the proximity to our drinking water wells, they became more concerned and said they would look into it.”

Sounds like education is the way to go.


Laura Kelly, of Littlefield Landscapes, sent concerned citizens a list of suggestions on alternative methods for brush control. Laura writes, "Let’s treat our land with respect, not chemicals. Families are the backbone of our land. Let’s see beyond where we are. If we are wise today, we can drink the water tomorrow.”

After my mom passed away, the hospice nurse flushed leftover meds. Those meds end up in the water we drink. I wrote the EPA several weeks ago and Jesse Meiler responded the following day: “EPA is very concerned about the detection of pharmaceuticals in our water and is working to better understand the implications of their presence in water.” Apparently the EPA is now studying the disposal of unused meds to identify alternative disposal methods and avoid flushing, which is great. During past administrations, the EPA failed its citizens, no doubt influenced by lobbyists from large chemical companies like Monsanto.

A month ago, Charles Duhigg reported in the New York Times that the weed-killer Atrazine may be more dangerous than previously thought. Pesticide use around our homes is an under-estimated source of water pollution - leading to more than 50% more water pollution than previously thought, according to scientists looking at pesticide use in residential areas in California.

There are - way - too – many – toxic chemicals – in regular use and often they cause cancer.

One of the herbicides NStar wants to use is called “Accord.” Accord has a great-sounding name: world peace and harmony comes to mind. Actually, glyphosate is a known carcinogen, a neurotoxin, an irritant, and can cause liver, kidney and reproductive damage. In recent news, glyphosate has been identified as a common chemical found in acute agricultural worker poisonings and has been linked to inter-sex frogs.

The more you dig, the more depressing this story becomes.

What can you do? Be aware. Stay informed. Spread the word. Go to Clean Water Action to write your local Congressman or Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families. The time for change is NOW! Start small: switch from Tide-like detergents to Seventh Generation. And here’s something easy and immediate: visit the Seventh Generation Web site and join the Million-Baby-Crawl to urge Congress to create regulations that will keep toxic chemicals out of the environment.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An October Day in the Life

With a cancellation due to H1N1 this weekend, I was able to sleep in, something I have not done over the weekend since March (!). Therefore, I rose at 8, rather than 7 or 6. After breakfast, I tidied up, so the cottage guests could have a tour of the old house. Sven got up early, too. Our first task of the day was making a final decision on whether or not to acquire a nifty 1968 Volvo in great condition, an interesting potential promotional angle for our bed & breakfast. After much back and forth, we decided with regret that the car would only add a layer of complication to our life, which neither of us was willing to assume. With regret, I emailed the seller, a former guest, thanks but no thanks. During the morning, I worked in the garden, trimming back perennials. The ladies in the cottage stopped by for their tour. Being artists, they both particularly enjoyed hearing me describe the origins of the art. By noon, Sven and I were at Newcomb Hollow Beach, along with Thoreau's ghost, where a good number of Cape Coolers were already hard at work designing 350 on the beach, not dug out of the sand, as I had imagined, but with seaweed. We joined the group, awed by the fact people all over the world are participating in the same worthwhile protest. Cameras clicked away. We even lay down in Wellfleet's 350, photo below, and Paula E. held up a photo of a polar bear, already endangered by global warming. (See yesterday’s post for full details. Yesterday NOW, on PBS, featured the watered down life in Bangladesh, where a recent cyclone gave an idea of what's coming. The site also has an interview with Bill MacGibben regarding 350.) Janet, a regular blog reader from Eastham, showed up with her husband Dave, who is responsible for Wild Cape Cod. Dave videotaped the proceedings. Very cool, Cape Cool! Then it was back home for more garden work. I handled no requests for reservation, washed no sheets, folded no towels, ironed no pillowcases, baked no bread. It was a day of rest, after a very long and busy season ….

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cape Cool to Participate in Day of Climate Action

Judy, Harriet, Andrea, and Sophie represented Cape Cool on Uncle Tim’s Bridge this afternoon, holding signs that read 350 as a part of the worldwide effort to draw attention to global warming. The sky was gray, and a brisk wind blew cold ripples across the still water, as if Nature wanted to participate, too. Tomorrow, Oct. 24, a larger group will meet at Newcomb Hollow at eleven o'clock to spell Wellfleet’s 350, in the sand, I would imagine, and walk the same beach as one of our first naturalists, Henry Thoreau. Bill McGibben is organizing citizens in 170 countries, who will take part in the event, each in his/her own way. For a full description, click here. I typed in Wellfleet and located reference to Cape Cool’s WALK (or surf) WITH ME, HENRY. The 350 refers to 350 parts per million, the level scientists have identified as a safe upper limit for CO2 in earth’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, the current level is 387. There's a lot of work to do ….Join Cape Cool tomorrow!

Walking From Atwood Higgins to Cape Cod Bay

Today Sven and I picked a hike out of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Discover Cape Cod, published in June, which I always recommend to guests. We wanted something different, a part of Wellfleet still unknown to us both. Actually, Sven chose, and it turned out I had already hiked part of this trail: Atwood Higgins House/Bound Brook Island/Ryder Beach. Bound Brook, called Sapokonish by Native Americans, is one of the earliest colonial settlement sites of Cape Cod, now part of the National Seashore. We began by admiring the Atwood Higgins House, built in 1730. Sven especially enjoyed the color and could tell, by peering through the windowpanes, how similar the interior is to our old Cape Codder. A flock of wild turkeys scrambled through the yard, red wattles swinging wildly in their haste to reach leaf-strewn low land where brown feathers provide perfect camouflage. Then we walked west, per guidebook instructions. I began to wonder if we were going in the right direction when the “dirt road” transformed itself into a path. I had hiked out this way with Patricia while mushrooming. We reached the funny boulder and realized it’s a marker, with a bronze plaque on the far side. Sven read the words stating we were on the site of a former schoolhouse. With dense pine trees all around, strange to think real dwellings were once in these woods, housing enough children for a school! Their mothers kept goats and a cow, churned their own butter, made their own clothes. We continued on and came to a sand road. TURN LEFT advised the guidebook. Tracks indicated the recent passage of a horse. Patches of lichen covered the forest floor. Here and there grew wild asters. The further we walked, the more I tried to imagine what it must have been like to live out here before cars, television, supermarkets. The early settlers were dependent on their gardens, livestock, and fish/shellfish. The road twisted and turned, passing the homes of several very lucky present-day Americans, artists it seemed, from the art studios we observed. Home ownership this deep into the National Seashore requires a 4X4, surely. In my mind, I saw Bound Brook Island in an ice storm and felt grateful to live closer to town. Yellow foliage predominated in the valleys, with white pines clinging to ridges. How did the Native Americans feel when this precious land was invaded by foreigners? History books do not say. In the distance, we could hear the surf at Cape Cod Bay. Finally, we reached the Wellfleet side of Ryder Beach dune and paused to rest on a memorial bench, placed there in honor of Zachary Miller, who passed away in 1999 at 38 and must have loved the vista below. On the way back to the car, we discussed the influence of a landscape's physical beauty on the inhabitants of a region. The people who colonized Bound Brook in the 1700s would have found apartment-dwelling a challenge. I certainly did! The whole route was supposed to take two hours. We finished in one ... Our blast-from-the-past hike over, we went for ice cream.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Wellfleet Pond Do You Prefer?

Above, a photo of picturesque Turtle Pond, in its fall glory, tucked away under the arm of Great Pond. Wellfleet has thirteen kettle ponds, formed when the glaciers withdrew, within the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Seashore provides answers to all the questions you ever had about kettle ponds here. Today we will consider the five major ponds in Wellfleet. and I'd like to hear which is your personal favorite.

Sven and I had never seen Duck Pond, although I had heard raves about it and even remember receiving a couple of honeymooners who got married beside Duck Pond. This afternoon we parked the car near the Senior Center and walked twenty minutes, along a dirt road, smelling of pine and blueberries. Suddenly through the trees, I spied the pond, shining aquamarine in the distance. As one descends into the crater, so to speak, it’s easy to imagine the glacier that created this pond. What a dramatic approach! The pond is small, however, with one large house on the far rim. You can drive in but the parking lot accommodates half a dozen cars. There was a National Seashore sign, reminding bathers to treat the pond with good sense: no shampoo, etc. Not one duck in sight, by the way.

From smallest to largest: Gull Pond is special because of its size (106 acres), but also due to the sluice that leads to Higgins Pond, apparently created by Native Americans 2000 years ago to facilitate herring runs. Gull is the deepest pond in the National Seashore at 19 meters. The well-equipped town beach sports a raft and a protected swimming area where children can take swimming lessons. Kayaks and canoes can be rented here in summer. Gull is not far from the Atlantic, which explains the seagulls overhead, origin of the name. To its north cluster three more major ponds: Higgins, Williams, and Herring. A fourth, Slough Pond, is actually in Truro. For more information on Gull Pond, go here.

Great Pond also has a town beach, but steep access means elderly or handicapped people cannot enjoy this pond except from the road. Smaller satellite ponds flail out in the vicinity – Turtle, Grass, Northeast, and Southeast – making Great Pond feminine to my mind, as if it held the hands of four pond-children. Today the eastern rim was decked out in frilly red leaves, the best display we have seen anywhere in Wellfleet. Sven and I often walk through the woods to Great Pond. Reeds grow near the shore, which can be quite beautiful. Sven enjoys swimming in the clear water. The parking lot for two dozen cars is woefully inadequate for the number of people who visit in summer. Great Pond looks spectacular from Cahoon Hollow Road!

Proceeding northwest, we come to Long Pond, which, as the name implies, is not round like the three others. The popular town beach is right next a main beach-access road and attracts parents with small children. How often did I push my son’s stroller to Long Pond when he was a toddler! Once my children grew older, we would often stop at Long Pond to “wash off the salt” after an afternoon of ocean fun. Now I love to walk around Long Pond because of the repossessed houses, being renovated by the Cape Cod Modern House Trust. In winter, if Long Pond freezes, Wellfleetians quickly don ice-skates and head out for a barbecue on the ice. To view the pond with blue sky, go here. In summer, I do not recommend Long Pond to guests since the beach tends to get crowded and the water can easily become tainted thanks to the diaper-set who like to splash in the shallows, but there's a raft and the opportunity to make friends with other elementary school children. Homeowners on Long Pond seem to rent their houses in summer more often than folks who live say, on Gull Pond.

Finally, we reach Dyer Pond, which we used to consider our “secret pond.” Then a New York Times reporter “discovered” it three years ago while on vacation and became enchanted. Dyer was described in the Sunday travel section as “the most beautiful, the most hidden, the most serene.” Hidden, it would not remain after publication of the article. Fortunately, few people know how to reach this pond through the woods and the locals aren’t telling. I must give my vote to Dyer Pond. It is so incredibly peaceful there. I just shouted to Sven, “What’s your favorite pond?”

“I still think Dyer,” he called from the living room, almost apologetically since we had visited Duck earlier.

Everyone, who loves Wellfleet, has a favorite pond. I thought it would be interesting to find out which is the most popular with readers of this blog. So, please vote in the comments section for Duck, Gull, Great, Long, or Dyer. May the best pond win!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Cleaning Libraries, Water Tanks & Cash Register Receipts

Lots of good vibes at the Wellfleet transfer station, as well as at the Truro dump, where I took the above photo. Cape Codders embrace recycling in a big way. Sven always finds great reading material at the transfer station.

“I’m cleaning out my library and will bring some back,” my husband declares as he goes out the Swap Shop door, several used books in hand, adding, “I promise!”

With a shrug, I glance around. Books are almost sacred at Chez Sven. “Cleaning out his library” usually never happens.

A plastic bottle on the shelf catches my eye. EZ RV Drinking Water Freshener. Hmmm. Wonder what’s in this little number? I read further and learn it’s chlorine-free. That’s good. Yesterday I blogged about Charles Duhigg’s warning of the danger of too much chlorine in city tap water.

“EZ RV Drinking Water Freshener is a special formulation that will eliminate odors and restore fresh taste to drinking water stored in supply tanks. No pre-cleaning or tank rinsing is required. Just pour in and enjoy fresh-tasting water in minutes. Safe to use in all types of supply tanks (plastic, metal, fiberglass.) It is environmentally safe and 100% biodegradable.”

At the bottom there’s another note: "CAUTION! KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN! Avoid contact of undiluted product with eyes, skin or clothing. For eyes, flush with plenty of water and contact physician. For skin and clothing, wash thoroughly with soap and water. If ingested, drink large amounts of water and seek medical attention.”

Whew! Powerful stuff. The label does not give any clue as to what is actually in the bottle. I unscrew the top and sniff a white powder, the consistency of baking soda. No odor. Next I Google Applied Biochemists in San Diego, which makes EZ RV Drinking Water Freshener. Ah-ha! Product Info is an option, so I click through. Nope. No description. But, there’s a phone number. (We have August regulars who have taught me to always, always check ingredients, since their daughter is allergic to peanuts and syrup that turns up in everything: high-fructose-corn.)

“Do you have allergies?” asks Donna, in her friendly customer-service voice.

“No, I just like to know what’s in my water,” I say, conjuring up an RV in my living room, with moldy water tank lid open.

“It’s a peroxide-based product, basically baking soda.”

When I ask for more precision, Donna offers to call back.

“Sodium percarbonate,” she warbles five minutes later.

I thank her and Google sodium percarbonate where I learn the product has an identical makeup to OxiClean, ie. eco-friendly bleach. I’m glad we don’t have to put OxiClean in the water we drink at Chez Sven! This sleuthing has made me wonder what is in our drinking water. Every bed & breakfast must test water for nitrates every year. What if I tested our well water for other substances as well? I’ve learned you can never be too careful. Carcinogens are turning up in the strangest places. The latest news reports BPA on cash register and credit card receipts. The BPA can come off on your fingers, apparently. Not good!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bonus Post: Newcomb Hollow Beach, Right Now

I call this photo one cloud, two waves. Newcomb Hollow Beach, at 4:30. Not quite low tide, but almost.

"It's so amazing here!" I exclaim to Sven as we walk back towards the parking lot.

"Fortunate for our guests that they got one such beautiful day," he responds.

Indeed, fans of Newcomb Hollow, sorry you missed the sea today. Here's what it looks like right now. Gentle waves roll in, supporting surfers, at least a dozen. Two ladies watch from the bench. An elderly beachcomber, with a metal detector, concentrates on the task of finding random coins and every so often slips something into his pocket. We pass a woman, wrapped in scarfs, sitting in meditation, facing the Atlantic, all by herself and happy to be so. The waves crash and water flows up the beach like molten steel. The ocean never looks this way in summer. It's peaceful, calm.

I say to myself, "This is why I live here!"

Terry Gross Interviews Charles Duhigg

Yesterday Terry Gross interviewed New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg on NPR. Listen to the program here. 500,000 companies have violated the Clean Water Act since 2004 and less that 3% have been fined or punished. Duhigg has created a great database following his 10-month research. One suggestion he makes unequivocally, “Everyone should use water filters.” (Of course, here at Chez Sven, we filter all drinking water.) The Concerned Citizens of Wellfleet are trying to figure out how to prevent NStar from spraying at least four herbicides underneath the power lines, since the toxic chemicals will end up in our sole source aquifer. Please listen and email Mr. Duhigg to encourage this valuable investigation of America’s drinking water and help him continue his “toxic water” series in the New York Times.

It Takes All Kinds of People

Welcome to Wellfleet, population almost 3000. Yesterday I wrote about non-residents who care deeply about this special place. Non-residents currently own 72% of the homes, an enormous percentage that makes it easier to understand why the town is almost deserted in the off-season. Let’s turn to the other 28%. There are retirees, of course, and “the locals.” Sven fits into the retiree category, since he’s a former history professor. I’m afraid I only qualify as a local, although there’s something slightly pejorative about the term, which is a shame. Being “local” should be seen as a positive. Wellfleetians also love their town and worry their children will not be able to afford to live here. It takes all kinds of people to create a vibrant community. At last night’s Forum meeting, over eighty citizens met to review the warrant for the upcoming Special Town Meeting. (A quick look around the room does reveal a large number of retirees indeed!) The evening began with presentation to the Housing Authority of a check whose purpose was helping out fellow citizens in need of rental assistance in this difficult economy. The money was raised at last month’s Toast of the Town talent show at W.H.A.T. For those of you who don’t know, the main professions are tourism, shellfishing, and the service trades, with the arts probably coming in fourth. S.P.A.T (Shellfish Promotion and Tasting) organizes Oysterfest, which promotes aquaculture. Wellfleet has young men and women working to preserve the reputation of the Wellfleet oyster and thinking outside the box. The ones I know personally are Alex Hay, of Mac’s Seafood, and Barbara Austin, both locals, both mentioned in a great article, written by Kate Frazer for the fall issue of The Nature Conservancy. Check it out here.