Saturday, October 01, 2011

Summer Events in Wellfleet, 2011: Un Grand Cru!

If summers were rated like wines, 2011 would get high marks. During the second half of June, the Outer Cape experienced spectacular weather. I doubt that was why hundreds of whales headed for the waters off Provincetown, but our guests were pleased they were here, feeding, beside the whale boats.

The temperature rose in July, which brought hoards of people from off-Cape, desperate to escape the heat. The Outer Cape enjoyed one perfect beach day after another. Usually August is the most strenuous month for locals, but this year we had to deal with similar stress and traffic in July, too. Chez Sven was full practically every night.

The Wellfleet Pharmacy opened in time to receive these folks and did more business than anyone involved with its creation had ever dared to hope. I think the Wellfleet Pharmacy can officially be declared a total success.

We had guests from the USA, but also Britain, Holland, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Germany, Argentina, Luxembourg, and Canada.

(Our most recent guests hailed from a tiny village near Toulouse and spoke no English. I spent two fabulous mornings chatting with them about Wellfleet, life, France, the USA, grandkids, toxic chemicals in the environment, etc. I sent them to PB Boulangerie Bistro, biensur, and got a table thanks to Sebastien. In the morning, Francis and Josette told me they had been the last to leave: the couple LOVED our French restaurant.)

The Wellfleet farmers’ market opened in June and continued until last Wednesday with fresh produce from local farms. How glorious to be able to run into town for veggies and chat with the people who sowed the seed!

Jeff Zinn left WHAT this summer, something many of us thought would never happen, and we all wish him well. I did not get to any of the plays but heard much praise from guests, who particularly enjoyed Bakersfield Mist, which will be presented by the New Rep in Watertown February 26-March 18, and The Ding Dongs, currently at the Harbor Stage. The end of the season even produced a few Pay-What-You-Can nights. A new director is in place now, and the search for another artistic director has begun.

Preservation Hall presented Jimmy Tingle every Wednesday night. Our community center welcomed a managing director, Janet Lesniak, who seemed to be at every single event I attended. Everything was free during opening week. I especially enjoyed local duo Ball & Chain, Settie and Zack, whose day-jobs are landscaper and yoga purveyor.

Payomet, in Truro, also offered entertainment. One show I wanted to see was Hopper’s Ghosts.

Guests raved about Sol and the vegetarian options at Van Renssellaer’s, but 30-somethings remained fans of Mac’s Shack, despite the hour-long wait for tables on weekends. One guest even compared Mac's to "a Manhattan discotheque."

(Mac has started a blog. Read about how to shuck an oyster here. Tracey and Philippe Hunt, at Winslow's Tavern, also got the blogging bug this summer.)

There were pop-ups in the restaurant world, with a famous chef from Cambridge holding forth at Adrian’s in Truro. Provincetown welcomed Ten Tables, also new to the Cape.

In July and August, there’s something to do every evening here, if one has the energy and leisure.

As usual, there were great literary events at the Public Library. I have enjoyed the art displayed on the library meeting room walls as well.

Lots of expensive art for sale in town galleries, but purchase is not obligatory, of course. Wellfleet is fortunate to have two dozen galleries. I noticed Left Bank, Harmon Gallery, the Farm had visitors coming and going all summer.

What else happened? Well, we had a major non-hurricane at the end of August. Irene blew down trees, depriving many Cape Codders of power. The ferocious wind did not let up for at least 12 hours. No rain at all left the garden parched and dry. Wellfleet’s trees will not sport foliage worth noticing this fall as the leaves are all scorched. One of our locusts fell on the electric wires and actually started burning. Caroline, a guest from Oxford, UK, noticed the smell of smoke during the night. Fortunately, the wood was merely smoldering when we discovered it. Caroline and husband Chris were among the guests who did not flee from the hurricane. It turned out to be a real bonding experience. Since many restaurants in town were closed, we invited the British couple to dinner. He is a specialist in human rights law and she is a specialist in biology, so, as you can imagine, the conversation was lively. The two Brits were great sports to put up with the candles and lack of running water.

Caroline and Chris stayed for nine days. Sven and I truly missed the couple when they had to leave. Chris suggested a few ideas on how to stop the utility company from spraying herbicides under the power lines, and we discussed whether clean water should be a human right. (I think it should and suggested he include the argument in the book he is writing.)

“I really liked that man,” Sven said. “Not only for his intelligence but for his integrity as a human being.”

I don’t know whether innkeepers are supposed to enjoy their guests so much, or whether it is supposed to be the other way around, but we were truly blessed this summer with the people who crossed our threshold.

Everyone has probably noticed the marvelous banners on Outer Cape bridges, created by Femke Rosenbaum, who founded Clean Water Art Action Cape Cod to protest NStar’s plan to spray under the power lines. Here is the artist, soon to become a year-round resident. Jerusha, of Cape Cool, wrote a nifty song called “Powerlines for the People” and made Wellfleet proud by getting arrested in front of the White House where she took part in the Tar Sands pipeline protest. Chuck Cole beat the drum for peace in front of town hall many a weekend.

In September, I took two raw foods classes at Preservation Hall and hope to start serving green smoothies to guests in 2012.

We had flowers from the garden on the breakfast table every day. Until recently, guests were able to eat at the vintage table outside. Of course, to read all the juicy details of what took place here Summer 2011, you can go back and check my posts, one a day from June 21 to the 21st of September.

Was there anything you particularly enjoyed in Wellfleet this summer that I left out?