Monday, April 04, 2011

When Cape Cod Was Farmland ...

Once upon a time Cape Cod was farmland. I am reminded of this fact every time Sven and I drive through what is left of the countryside. How proud people were of their farms back then! But it was tough to eke out a living, and almost impossible to hold onto large tracts of land after the National Seashore was created. Folks in Truro did better than most. (You can purchase a book that shows what the town used to look like, before development. The book is called Images of America: Truro.)

The other day, in Orleans, I overheard a conversation between two old-timers, reminiscing about the Cape in pre-tourist days. One man, one woman, in a thrift store, amidst appropriate remnants of the past – lacey linens, crystal glasses, a pile of old-fashioned church dresses. The couple did not see me, over by the lampshades, eavesdropping.

“Remember how it used to be?” the customer said.

“Fields extending as far as the eye could see …” responded the thrift-shop worker, lost in nostalgia.

The rest of the conversation was a litany of names like Snow, Nickerson, Eldridge, and Sparrow.

There are still some farms around but most owners do not seek visitors, unless a new generation has found a source of income from, say, weddings as at Edgewood Farm or the sale of organic produce. Still anyone who really looks can find a few hidden gems where roosters strut, a goose or two wallows in the mud, and lambs are born every spring. Five this year. Count them!