Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lots to Protest on the Outer Cape

Cape Cod activism is alive and well. You can join the movement and oppose one of the following, or all three: 1.) The National Seashore's intention to poison predator crows, 2.) NStar's plan to spray up to five herbicides across 150 miles of Cape power lines, 3.) Wellfleet's proposal to raise a wind turbine near White Crest Beach ...

At noon today, activists Jared Collins and Laura Kelley will speak against NStar's plan for herbicidal spraying on the Organic Thinking radio show on WOMR.

Tomorrow Monday, at 7 pm, the Wellfleet Community Forum will hold a panel discussion at the Senior Center to discuss the wind turbine proposal.

I saved quite a few comments related to the turbine, comments submitted to past blog posts that were not on subject then, comments like this one from an anonymous reader:

“So sad that if the wind turbine goes through it will forever destroy Duck Pond and the tranquility as it will loom 400 FT about this glacial gem...very sad days for the woods of Wellfleet if the INDUSTRIAL TURBINE is allowed... Our own Avatar...”

Strangely enough, after the water tank went up on Long Pond Road, I felt my own position on local wind power shifting.

Here’s a description of the Forum event:

“A 400 foot, 1.5 megawatt-class turbine is being considered for town-owned land in the Wellfleet-by-the-Sea area within the National Seashore boundary. The panel will address the status and plans for the project, approaches to financing the project and the risks and benefits to the town of the approaches.

In October 2009 the Wellfleet Special Town Meeting voted to provide funds for wildlife and avian assessment and monitoring and ultimately for engineering, design, and permitting support for the project. This decision has raised controversy within Wellfleet. Reasons for not having a municipal wind turbine at this location will be presented by a spokesman for “Save Our Seashores” a group that is opposed to a turbine within the within the national seashore boundary. The panel will also talk about the experiences of other Cape Towns, and specifically Falmouth, whose own municipal wind turbine was recently dedicated."

Also tomorrow, at 5 pm, Eastham Selectmen will hold a meeting on NStar's plan for the Cape, with Rep. Sarah Peake in attendance. As you may remember, Eastham was the first town on Cape Cod to oppose the treatment of vegetation with a mixture of five herbicides, taking a stand against NStar as early as June, 2009.

If you live off-Cape but feel strongly on one or more of these issues, I urge you to make your voice heard. Write to your Selectman or Rep. Peake or Robert O'Leary. Even Senator Kerry is accepting letters regarding NStar. I know. I wrote him. He's on it: "I have forwarded your concerns regarding pesticide use to Tom May, CEO of NStar. I believe he is in the best position to assist and alleviate your problem ..."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

PB Boulangerie to Open Thursday

Now here’s a good reason to come spend next weekend in Wellfleet, should you need one … PB Boulangerie will open on Thursday. This afternoon Sven and I stopped in to chat with Boris Villatte, the marvelous baker (marvelous is an adjective that applies, I now can assure you, because I have tasted his bread), and he gave us this news, adding that the bistro opening will follow in a few weeks. A batch of “rejects” had just emerged from the oven and the aroma wafted through the front hall into the empty restaurant beyond. We hightailed it home with a bag full of bread. I dove into the butter croissant, which melted in my mouth, then gobbled up half a pain aux raisins. Sven made himself a big ham sandwich. We both were in bread heaven.

“Marvelous bread!” Sven declared. “I haven’t eaten this type since Paris. It brings back nostalgia from France.”

Tourists, if you can’t afford France in this year of recession, reserve lodging now in a spectacular town where you can eat spectacular REAL French bread and spectacular meals at PB Boulangerie Bistro.

Boris told us the restaurant opening will follow in a few weeks.

My Letter to the Editor Published by Cape Cod Times

Yesterday the Cape Codder published a front page article with the headline, "Time's Up." The article describes a meeting between Cape Cod Commission members, Green Cape representatives, Wellfleet's Paul Sieloff, and six NStar officials. Michael Durand, NStar spokesman, is quoted as having said the herbicide spraying will take place, and start, in Wellfleet, June 1. Unacceptable!

My latest protest against this plan was published today in the Cape Cod Times, along with two similar letters, one about the consequences of chemical spraying on blueberries and the other suggesting power lines should be buried. Here's mine, entitled, NStar's claim to greenness is belied by spraying plans:

"More than 2,000 people signed Green Cape petitions expressing serious concern about NStar's plan to switch from traditional means of brush removal to herbicides.

Your Feb. 20 story quoted NStar's Caroline Allen as saying, "This year's herbicide program is unchanged from what was proposed last year." How shocking this is to me!

Since I pay monthly for electricity, I contacted Jeffrey Luce, community relations spokesman, to protest herbicidal spraying. NStar's stance, as reported in your newspaper, shows the utility company does not care about the opinion of its customers.

When I asked NStar to reconsider adding toxic chemicals to our environment, I expected executives to pay attention. You can be sure they do not live on Cape Cod, where Silent Spring Institute already is trying to figure out why Barnstable County has such a high breast cancer rate.

Below Luce's signature were the words, "Please remember to be green." NStar's behavior indicates this megacompany is not green at all, since it intends to further pollute our environment. The utility company's refusal to listen to the heartfelt wishes of Cape residents can only be construed as further evidence that major corporations are motivated only by their bottom line."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crows & Plovers: Is Cohabitation Mission Impossible?

We found these tracks at Duck Harbor this weekend. I love tracks of birds on beaches. Whatever shorebird made the marks walked with swagger, don’t you think? Sharp claws, attitude. We also saw cage-like enclosures, like those that will contain the poisoned eggs in fake piping plover nests to kill crows if the National Seashore has its way. Duck Harbor is one of two Wellfleet beaches chosen for a pilot program to help plovers reproduce.

Now, crows are intelligent birds. Perhaps you have seen the film of crows in Brazil leaving hard nuts on highways where cars will run them over? Will their Wellfleet cousins be fooled and gobble up poisoned eggs? Superintendent George Price sure hopes so.

It turns out we are not talking flocks of crows but merely 10 to 12 targeted individuals. I learned this detail at the information meeting held yesterday at the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Despite the pouring rain, the auditorium filled up so fast Sven and I had to scramble for seats. A back room received the overflow crowd. Superintendent Price’s introduction was followed by a slide show narrated by Mary Hake who explained the “flexible management approach” that may help the threatened species reproduce in peace. Both Mary and Superintendent Price pointed out that human impact on Cape Cod has been advantageous for crows but not plovers, whose habitat has been drastically reduced.

In one corner, fuzzy plover chicks, hiding under Mom at the first sign of danger. In the other, the predator crow, sneaky and smart. Certain crows like plover eggs so much they’ve discovered how to enter the enclosures that protect the plover nests.

The plan is to inject hard-boiled chicken eggs with an avicide, DRC-1339, which will kill the egg thieves/chick killers. The hope is that any remaining members of the local crow population will learn to avoid plover nests. Mary’s statement that “the crows generally die quietly within one to three days, away from humans” drew a growl of disapproval from the audience, including the crow-supporter to my right, Nancy Kunik, of Wellfleet. Emotion filled the room.

Over a dozen people quickly lined up for the Q&A session.

Some of the more interesting tidbits: We were not at a public hearing, as many of us thought, but rather a simple information-sharing meeting. Had the Seashore brass already made up its mind? Not clear.

Helen Wilson disagreed with certain claims about the avicide, stating she had found a fact sheet online advising the poison should not be used within 50 feet of water.

Dave Schropfer, Eastham Selectman, spoke against adding more toxins to the environment and assured the audience he has found the Seashore receptive to arguments in the past, for instance, with regard to NStar.

Lee Roscoe of Brewster said, “This is one toxin too many. What other methods are there?”

The crowd came up with lots of ideas for reducing the crow population: shooting the birds, birth control, decoys, products to make them vomit, snares. The Seashore brass listened carefully but seemed to have already rejected alternative solutions.

A young woman from Harwich described her horror at watching a poisoned seagull die in the marsh. Sharon Young read a statement from the Humane Society. A sixth-grade science student worried about what would happen to the baby crows if Momma Crow were murdered. Ryan Curley pointed out recent storms could also explain this year’s loss of plover habitat.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The message was crows are God’s creatures and do not deserve to be singled out and eliminated. The problem is, plovers are awfully cute, and they may not survive if nothing is done.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Of Sandwiches and Recession …

Before Tamara left, we showed her Dyer Pond. Once back at Chez Sven, I called Box Lunch and ordered up three scrumptious wraps. The Cape-wide franchise started here in Wellfleet. It's very easy to become addicted to these marvelous sandwiches, dubbed “rollwiches,” but B&B reservations are way down, so we don’t enjoy them as often these days. It makes more sense to buy the fixings and create one’s own.

I usually call in the order, then pick up the sandwiches.

“Two Guacs, light on the peppers, and a White Angus,” I told the shop’s owner over the phone.

“Three!” Owen exclaimed with obvious glee. “Whoopie! See you in ten minutes?”

(I’m not sure whether he actually said “whoopee” but his voice certainly expressed enthusiasm. Guacs are avocado, melted Swiss, Provolone, American, tomatoes, onions, red peppers and mayo. White Angus is roast beef with cream cheese.)

Owen's response had made it sound as if I might be the first customer of the day, but there were three other people inside the tiny Briar Lane shop when I entered, including Owen’s wife Kathy, busy preparing sandwiches, a job she assumed, in recent years, only while the help was on break or sick. Today I got the impression there was no help, no business to warrant help.

Nate Cook sat at the counter, dressed in black. We used to eat Box Lunch rollwiches together during our various renovation projects. For several years Nate has worked as a contractor. He is also an excellent carpenter.

“An old friend’s visiting,” I said, after a warm hug. “I wanted her to taste the best sandwiches in town.”

Nate said he was leaving on a surfing vacation in Mexico next week and hoped to have work upon his return. The statement was accompanied by a slight shrug of discouragement. His tone was tinged with inevitability, as if he had been expecting this to happen. Finding work had been hard over the past year. Now work for spring had dried up.

The economy sucks, but the recession's claws had not gripped Wellfleet until recently. Shops all over town have now closed. No more Downunder videos; Wes Waters discounted all his antiques and shut Codder House; Sam Cooks retired for a second time; the owners of Wellfleet Wine & Spirits put their shop up for sale. Note, Main Street merchants seem to be doing better than Route 6 businessmen. Still it’s clear people are hurting. According to the newspapers, burglaries on the Cape are up, as is petty crime.

Has the recession made itself obvious in your town? Are you a Box Lunch fan? What's your favorite Box Lunch sandwich? Do you still eat out despite the recession?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Soul Massage at the Tip of Cape Cod

As the Eagles sing in Hotel California, “seeing old friends is good for the soul.” How true those lyrics are … Almost forty years ago, when my son was a toddler, Tamara, age 18, showed up at my door in response to a help-wanted ad for a fille-au-pair. We smiled at each other, startled by having the exact same color hair, a shade of red unusual in France, and I hired her on the spot. The American from Madison, Wisconsin proved a jewel and has remained a friend ever since. Now this adventurous spirit has chosen to leave her editing job at American Girl and set off towards new horizons, with the intention of serving in the Peace Corps. Tamara had never seen our B&B, although she did visit my parents’ old house several times. The changes produced a vigorous thumbs-up.

First Sven and I showed our special guest Duck Harbor at sunset, a sight we always recommend in winter and one of our favorite Wellfleet experiences. The spectacular light made Tamara whip out her camera. I did the same, and we all posed for a round of fun photos. (Sven is holding a sea snail shell.)

Yesterday we went to LeCount Hollow, but the wind whipped white caps across the waves and a walk was out of the question. No problem. Down to Provincetown we sped. “Closed” signs hung in most shop windows and yet Commercial Street pulsed with life, as if a morning giant had sprinkled the buildings with the spiritual equivalent of cayenne pepper to wake everyone up. Here’s what we noticed: a couple of men walking hand in hand, exchanging tender glances; the words “Angels Landing,” written in tiles on a roof; a freshly painted Town Hall, sparkling in the crisp sunshine; a pan of water underneath a water fountain for dogs; some great Victorian architecture; a Toys of Eros sex shop; the South African restaurant Karoo Kafe; a woman, on her way to the post office, striding down the middle of the street in loud conversation on her cell phone. We had lunch at JoMamma’s: superior panini; Espresso for Sven, latté for Tamara, smoothie for me. (JoMamma’s is the café inside Art House, where Hedda Lettuce performs.)

Then our tour took us through the Provincelands, a wild part of the National Seashore, at the tip of Cape Cod, where there's a great bike trail. What an exhilarating view from the deserted Race Point observation deck! The landscape of sand dunes, sapphire ocean, and stunted green pine provides such a soothing contrast to the bustle of Provincetown, even a Provincetown almost empty of tourists. Impossible not to be awed by the beauty of nature. We came away with a sense of peace …

If you had an old friend come to visit, what would you share with him or her? Do you agree that seeing old friends is good for the soul? If so, why?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seashore to Hold Hearings on Plan to Poison Crows

“So many pesticides, so little time!” exclaimed Sue Phelan, a Green Cape organizer, when I sent her a link to an online news report last week. What now? The Cape Cod National Seashore intends to launch a program to poison crows. Apparently the clever black birds interfere with the nests of piping plovers, an endangered species. The poison? DRC-1339. The avicide will be injected into hard-boiled chicken eggs, placed in fake nests at Duck Harbor, above, and Bound Brook. There has been an outcry from residents who fear the poison will enter the environment. Read all about it here. While I am against spreading poison as a general rule, what I do not understand is why these same local citizens, who are mounting a campaign against the Seashore’s plan, have not become active against NStar, which will spray, in a much larger area, much closer to human habitation, similar poisons, ie. herbicides, which will enter our drinking water supply. Perhaps they read the editorial in Thursday's Banner, urging people to the crows' defense? Public meetings on the shorebird management pilot program will take place in Eastham, on Thursday at 5:30, Salt Pond Visitor Center, and in Provincetown, March 3 at 5 Holway Avenue.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Email Exchange: Perfect Winter Weekend in Wellfleet

What amazing weather Saturday! Sven and I went to the beach not once, but twice. These photos were taken at the harbor, where we saw several small families out collecting shells and enjoying the sunset. February is an ideal time for Cape Codders, who now live elsewhere, to return for a visit. The beaches are deserted, the restaurants empty, the air oh so fine and pure. Our return guest Geoff Rogers grew up on the Cape and loves to share this special place with children Angus and Fiona, and wife Andrea. After their visit, we exchanged these emails:

“Dear Geoff,

I hope you got home safe and had a nice time. We walked on the beach yesterday and were glad you had such a very exceptional beach day. I'm afraid I may have forgotten the butter. So, please forgive me if that was the case. Thank you for those amazing chocolates! They are almost sinful. Best to you all, Sandy”

“Dear Sandy and Sven,

Thank you both so much for this past weekend's stay at Seagull Cottage. We had a lovely time.

On Saturday we went to the Audubon Sanctuary. It's nice that they know us there, and look surprised when we show up outside our normal camping time in summer. It’s good to feel as though you are a ‘regular.’ A few years ago, Angus decided, of his own volition, that he wanted to help out, so he took $35 of the money he earns from odd jobs and presented it to the good people at Wellfleet Bay. They were quite astonished, and since then, of course, Angus gets a fund appeal letter every December. Maybe that's why they remember us? We had a picnic lunch in the lee of Try Island, one of those islands that isn't surrounded by water any longer, and sat there in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine, watching birds. It was perfect. Later, we went to Marconi Beach and down the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail just at sunset. We have never been there when the whole thing is frozen. It was a bit spooky as it got dark, with those old twisted trunks and dark shadows creeping in on all sides.

We took your advice and went to Mac's in Eastham and treated ourselves to Chatham cod. We told the friendly people there that we had read about their efforts in the Nature Conservancy magazine. Nice folks, and good fresh produce as well as the fish.

This morning we went to Coast Guard Beach, partly to be on the beach again and partly to show the kids where the Outermost House once stood. We have read and reread the chapter on the terrible nor'easter when the sleet came driving in, and when Beston went out in the height of the gale at midnight to watch the ferocious high tide crash through the dunes. Fabulous!

Then we stopped at Bird Watcher's store in Orleans, and Fiona told them a joke (for a free pencil). Before heading home, we visited my sister in Barnstable.

The cottage was excellent, of course, spotless as ever, cozy, just perfect for the four of us.

We'll be back.

Oh, and there was butter.

Kind wishes,


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Birdwatchers Flock to LeCount Hollow

I have always heard Wellfleet to be the perfect place for observing migratory birds, so I was not surprised to see a dozen ardent birdwatchers congregated at the end of the LeCount Hollow parking lot yesterday, telescopes pointed at the sea, chatting together with excitement. I looked out at the blue, blue ocean and could not detect a single bird anywhere. The group leader, not in observatory mode, told us there have been a lot of birds close to shore recently but today the migration patterns kept them way out to sea. That did not curb the enthusiasm of her colleagues, who hardly acknowledged us, busy with their hobby. The group hailed from Madison, Connecticut. It was beautiful out and quite a few beachcombers were taking advantage of a final day of school vacation to walk kids or dogs. I was looking the other way during our walk, amazed by the dunes, which almost begged to have their photo taken. On the way back to the parking lot, Sven spoke to a young man standing near the water's edge, a New Yorker, the stranger said. “I love to listen to the ocean,” he declared. Something one cannot do in Manhattan, so true!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Storms Create Buzz on Erosion and Herbicidal Spraying

Really glad to see an article by Doug Fraser in the Cape Cod Times this morning entitled “NStar Spraying Sparks Outcry.” As many of you know, I feel very strongly about this matter and reprinted in this blog, yesterday, my Thursday letter to the editor of the Provincetown Banner. Opposition to herbicidal spraying did not disappear with the summer breezes, as NStar had hoped it would. Oh, no. Instead, there’s been an absolute storm of protest over the winter. That the major Cape Cod newspaper has started covering the issue again can only be seen as a positive development ...

Nature has been throwing ferocious storms at the coastline, too. Lots of erosion on Outer Cape beaches, so much so that the Truro Conservation Commission drew up new rules about sand fencing and drift fencing. What’s the difference? Sand fencing encourages wind-blown sand to pile up, whereas drift fencing “dissipates wave energy” and slows down the erosion process. (Got that? Me neither.) I wrote about the erosion at Ballston Beach January 10 & 11, and shortly thereafter NECN sent a crew down to Truro for an in-depth report. I know many of you are searching the Web for photos of the erosion, so Sven and I returned this week to take another look. The beach was higher than a month ago, in relationship to "Gil's house," which may tumble into the sea, above. We were both struck by the beauty of the fencing, although I’m not sure which type it was, and by the incredible wind-blown sand drifts ...

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Letter on Herbicides Published by the Banner

Yesterday Sven and I admired nature at Ballston Beach in Truro, breathing in the crystal-clear air. The wild beauty of beaches like this one is one of the main reasons we choose to live here. What a special place the Outer Cape is!

On the way home, we picked up a copy of the Provincetown Banner, which published my latest letter to the editor:

“NStar intends to spray five herbicides under the power lines on Cape Cod to control vegetation. Federal law mandates this control but does not state anyone should use herbicides. These chemicals will filter down through our sandy soil into the single source aquifer. Traces will end up in our drinking water.

Over 2000 people signed a petition, circulated by Green Cape last summer, in opposition to herbicidal spraying under the power lines. NStar agreed to postpone spraying until June after concern, expressed by citizens in Eastham, spurred their Board of Selectmen to action. Now towns across Cape Cod have received a letter from NStar confirming their intention that “foliage treatments” take place from June 7 to October 16.

We already have high breast cancer rates in Barnstable County. Silent Spring Institute has found traces of DDT, sprayed over 30 years ago, in Cape Cod dust.

In 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency will begin review and regulation of 140 synthetic chemicals introduced into our environment over the past forty years.

Perhaps we should take a closer look at why so many people develop cancer in the first place, why fertility rates are in a tailspin, what has changed that may account for the dramatic increase in autism?

I believe we must control the toxic chemicals that we pour into our environment.

What can individuals do? Begin with local action. Visit the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition web site for information on how to contact NStar. Call your State Representative or Congressman. Write your favorite Selectman or Board of Health member to ask whether your town opposes the spraying of herbicides under power lines.

The fragile equilibrium of nature is at risk. It’s time for regular citizens like you and me to step up to the plate. Together we can make a difference.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greening One’s Household, Phase II

Yesterday Ruth Pennebaker at Fabulous Geezersisters wrote eloquently about losing a friend to illness and learning to appreciate one's health as one grows older, and Sheryl Kraft at Midlife Matters provided a quiz that made me realize I need to drink more water and get additional exercise if I intend to remain healthy. Recently health has been on my mind a lot because I finally woke up from my consumerism-induced stupor and moved from Environment 101 into Advanced Environmental Hazards: Plastics. Part of this migration was the result of the health care debate in Congress and the influence wielded by insurance and drug company lobbyists, representatives of corporations that do not care about people. Another motivation was NStar’s insane plan to spray herbicides on the Outer Cape, where we drink well water from a single source aquifer. A third reason was my granddaughter, Juliette, and the world she will inherit.

I have been thinking more about the products that surround us on a daily basis, products which perhaps should be banned from our homes. The easy ones to eliminate are the majority of soaps, shampoos, cleansers and detergents, which sometimes even carry messages on the bottle, warning of toxicity, since alternatives are available. Five years ago we purchased organic cotton sheets for Chez Sven and started serving/eating organic food, whenever possible. We recycle and compost. Now I realize these efforts are not enough. Everyday household products require a thorough re-evaluation for content.

Above, for instance, stands Sven. He has just shaved his head and is admiring the result in our powder-room mirror. Please notice what’s on the shelf in front of him. Sven loves gum and is about to unwrap a piece. I was sorry to tell him he will be chewing plastic. Check out the whole story at Beth Terry’s Fake Plastic Fish. You will also notice our new tube of Tom’s toothpaste and a bottle of Cool Mint Listerine, which is tottering on the edge of my shopping list, about to fall off for good. I used Listerine on the advice of my dentist, but the ingredients do give pause. What’s in Listerine? Chemicals. Do I really want them in my mouth twice a day? No. (See The Ecologist for the list of ingredients.)

Now, check out what Sven is wearing, his favorite fleece. I knew fleece isn't supposed to be good for you but was not sure why, so I asked my green innkeeper friend, Sheri Gibbs. Sheri became much more aware of these things after a bout with breast cancer. Here’s her explanation, as well as a source of safer fleece options: “Fleece, recently, is no longer all made the same. Apparently, some manufacturers realized that off-gassing is deadly and make their fleece from something else...You’ll see some ‘safe’ fleece now in the Gaiam and other catalogs. Most fleece is made from recycled soda bottles. Off-gassing may last a number of years, but you can never stop having the harmful chemicals from the recycled soda bottles go into your blood through your skin from wearing the bad fleece on your body. The only clothing I know of to be actually safe anymore is that made of certified organic cotton, and wool (if that is untreated with god-knows-what, depending on where it comes from and what country). Beyond the chemicals from which fleece is made, also consider whatever on earth they use for the dyes. I have no idea what that all is for sure.”

Sheri went on to admit she still wears fleece, despite the risks.

I believe we are on the cusp of a people’s movement against the chemical industry. Why a people’s movement? Because the chemical industry will not regulate itself unless forced to do so.

What changes have you made recently in your household, based on environmental choices and a search for safer products?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Bloggers Love Comments ...

Here's what I have been asking myself recently: Are the Outer Cape, with its sandy soil and single source aquifer, and the National Seashore, with its pristine woodlands and beaches, so very special that the region deserves a different set of rules from other parts of the country?

Many of you may have listened to Selectman Ira Wood on Outer Cape Radio this morning. The show made it clear what incredible passion animates both sides of the wind turbine debate. Thank you to Ira for bringing us both points of view. The Wellfleet Forum will hold its March 1 session on the same issue, if you want to weigh in then.

I was delighted to hear from five readers regarding the water tower, which took so many of us unawares. Funny how the new tower impacts reaction to the wind turbine proposal! In any case, thank you to everyone who posted comments. If you cannot figure out how to comment, shoot me an email and I will post the comment for you. Bloggers thrive on comments. I'm glad more of you have stopped lurking and joined the conversation. Blogs without comments are like children without clothes: the kids don't care about being naked, but passersby consider them with more respect if they're dressed up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wind Turbine Generates Debate

I looked up into the trees, near the library, and saw these birds. Wellfleetians don’t usually look up, but rather out, towards the horizon, be it bay or ocean. On Ocean View Drive people tend to admire the scenic vista of sea and sky, but if a wind turbine is placed at White Crest, no one can deny that it will attract the eye.

Interesting comments earlier today, although I would have liked to hear from additional readers about the water tower. ITScout brought up the proposed wind turbine and that was exactly what I planned to write about tomorrow, Wednesday. One can be in favor of alternative energy and even love watching wind turbines at work off the coast of Germany, yet have doubts about whether or not they are appropriate within the National Seashore, at a site which is almost sacred to so many non-residents. Yet, White Crest is one of the windiest spots on the whole east coast, perfect for generating energy ...

This wind turbine will be the subject of Ira Wood’s first radio call-in show on WOMR, Outer Cape Debate, tomorrow, Wednesday, at 9 am. Ira reports, “With every show we’ll be selecting a topic of current interest on the Outer Cape and hosting people on either side to talk about the pros and cons as they see them. Then we’ll open the phone lines and throw the show over to you, the listener, for questions, comments, and opinions.”

First guests will be Geof Karlson of the Wellfleet Energy Committee and Jim Rogers of Save Our Sea Shore, a group of abutters who have created a Web site in opposition to placement at White Crest. The discussion will be lively. Be sure to listen in.

Water Tower Casts Shadow Down Long Pond Road

Valentine’s Day visitors will have noticed a strange round object, visible from the waterfront. Not a flying saucer, nope. Wellfleet’s new WATER TOWER! A water supply tower makes perfect sense and was voted in by Town Meeting, on the recommendation of the Board of Water Commissioners. Most residents get drinking water from private wells. The majority of the people who will benefit from town water are those living in the Central District. Not everyone was pleased with this situation, which required the homeowners involved to pay a hook-up fee. Existence of the water tower now creates problems for people living near the tower's location, on Long Pond Road.

I know many volunteer hours go into making such decisions for small towns like ours, and I am not into second-guessing town boards, as a general rule. For details on the process before and after the decision, see the extensive online minutes here. The problem is no one wants such a thing “in his/her back yard,” especially when only certain members of the community can take full advantage of the town water supply. (Full disclosure, Chez Sven is located on Old King’s Highway, not one of the roads served by the new water system. We cannot see the tower either from the main house or the cottage.)

Now that the tower has been built, I understand how abutters might feel their space has been invaded by a decidedly alien structure. Real estate values may take a hit if the tower is visible from a certain property. Realtors will surely start describing property as being on the “tower-side” of Long Pond Road.

This week I received an email from a friend, who lives, yes, on the tower-side of Long Pond Road, a long-time town resident. She writes, “Between the looming water tower (which doesn't actually solve the ‘dirty water’ issue) and NStar, I sometimes wonder where I've landed.”

The tower will surprise many non-residents, too, upon their eventual return for summer.

In June, another “tower-side” resident, Marla Rice, was quick to suggest a committee be formed, inviting artists to submit designs for the tank. Details, related to this issue, were handled at a July meeting. What color and design were chosen? Not clear from the minutes.

I got to thinking of options. How about polka dots or red and white check? Or, we could have a smiley face on our tower. (Just kidding!) Photoshop allows us to imagine these blue and white striped marvels. Here’s a town that chose different shades of blue. My vote goes to sky blue.

One thing is obvious: what’s needed is the most fade-into-the-surroundings color/design as possible.

Wellfleet’s water supply system project was shovel-ready, which means certain homeowners won the jackpot as a grant became unexpectedly available and could cover part of the hook-up fee. Read all about it in this Banner article from last month.

Do you have a water tower in your town? What color is it? Does the structure blend into the landscape? If you vacation in Wellfleet, how do you feel about the town’s newest feature?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Innkeeper, the Pragmatist & the Return Guest

Wellfleet in winter is so quiet the harbor seagulls don’t budge when pedestrians approach. Impossible to spook them. I tried waving my arms, but each seagull had staked out a claim on a different post and had no intention of losing its perch. There were a few more cars in town for Valentine’s Day weekend, and a few more organized activities, but not a lot going on, compared to summer. (Read Bruce B's report on what did go on here.)

Long Pond is still frozen. Sven and I watched a group of kids playing on the ice with their dog. Every winter we have a conversation along these lines:

ME: “Our reservations are down.”

SVEN: “You say that every year.”

ME: “No, really. Way down.”

SVEN: “It’s only February!”

ME: “This time people are going to stay home.”

SVEN: “Don’t exaggerate.”

ME: “No one can afford a vacation anymore.”

SVEN: “People always find the money for a holiday.”

ME: “It’s the recession.”

SVEN: “We live between two major cities. If they can’t afford Europe, they’ll come here.”

ME: “I tell you no one’s booking.”

SVEN: “Shorter trips will make more sense.”

ME: “There’s even a name for it now. The Stay-cation.”

SVEN: “You’ll see. They’ll book by summer.”

ME: “Do you really think so?”

We had a variant of this discussion in front of return guests this weekend, and one of them had the last word:

JODY: “Who wouldn’t like to come here! It’s such a nice place. Stop worrying!”

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Since our cottage guests read this blog, they knew to check out the library during their stay. While there, they noticed unusual activity in the children's room. A group of adults, and several kids, sat at tables, making valentines the old-fashioned way with ribbon, frills, and lots of heart(s). Shannon and Jody joined in and, once back home, allowed me to share what they had created ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I HEART Cottage Bakery

A lot of you are eager to find out when the French bakery and restaurant will open in South Wellfleet. Tired of waiting? Me, too. Still no word, although I did hear the new oven passed inspection and should be churning out crusty baguettes any day now. In the meantime, how about Cottage Bakery in Orleans, a tiny shop that has won a number of awards over recent years and gained notoriety for its "Dirt Bombs"? Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to stop in and ogle the merchandise. Heart-shaped sugar cookies, berry pies sprinkled with little candy hearts, the chocolate treats above … you can’t go wrong at this local bakery. Whatever “gourmandise” the gourmand chooses will make the old taste buds break out in a grin. Cottage serves up top-notch patisseries, cakes, pies, muffins, and bread, etc. etc.

Want to enjoy a spectacular dinner special for Valentine’s Day? Instead of France, head for Italy. Try Messina, a casual tavern in Eastham, where $48,000 was raised to benefit the Haitian relief effort last month. This restaurant, right on Route 6 and under new management, will offer a four-course Saint Valentine’s 2010 prix fixe menu this weekend for $30. As an entrée, choose between Stuffed Sole, Rack of Lamb, Stuffed Pork Loin, or Surf & Turf. For dessert? Make mine Chocolate Ecstasy …