Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where Should Vegetarians Dine on the Outer Cape?

Above, tasty fish tacos from The Juice. Someone should really open a vegetarian eatery in Wellfleet. The place would get lots of business. This summer I have been trying to keep track of all the vegetarian guests on my fingers, and I’ve run out of fingers. I received the following message in my in-box today: “About food allergies - Paul is a vegetarian and I can't eat cheese, but I do eat other dairy products - is this a problem? And, finally as Paul is a vegetarian can you recommend somewhere local for dinner on Thursday evening?”

Early in the season I thought of doing a personal survey, because I like vegetarian food, in fact, I’m almost a vegetarian, but it would be hard to justify the expense of going to all the local restaurants simply to try vegetarian options. The idea of a survey came when we received vegetarian guests who would not eat fish or shellfish. That's a tough one, because so many local restaurants specialize in oysters. So, here’s a rudimentary idea of what’s available …

Last night our Green Room guests came home from dinner with the news there was a one hour and a half wait to eat at Mac’s Shack. I call that success, don’t you? They compared the atmosphere to a Manhattan discotheque. However, Mac’s Shack is not the place to go if one is vegetarian ... The Portebello mushroom, topped with grilled tofu and zucchini, plus polenta with tomato coulis, sounded yummy. I dug in with relish. The flavors combined perfectly. Bliss! That is, until I bit into the tofu. I called over the waitress and said, “Is the tofu supposed to be cold?” She looked worried and removed my plate. Five minutes later, the same plate returned with grilled tofu this time. Mac came out and apologized, saying the oven needed calibration, and no one had realized that yet. I appreciated the apology, but the fact remains that the tofu was served cold. There was no offer of a free dessert, or anything, so I’m going to have to give Mac’s Shack a thumbs-down for this vegetarian option. Also, if you do go and order this dish, get a salad first, because although delicious, I left feeling hungry.

The Juice, on the other hand, offers a great tofu dish: Asian Tofu Stir fry.

Terra Luna, in Truro, caters to vegans, as well as vegetarians.

PB Boulangerie Bistro does a nice risotto. Our vegan guests also reported side dishes of succulent veggies, upon request.

Moby Dick’s has a black bean veggie burger and salads, if others in your party want shellfish and fish.

The Bookstore has great Eggplant Parmigiana.

I’ve heard Van Rensselaers offers several vegetarian options, as well as a salad bar. And, it's the only restaurant that boasts of those vegetarian dishes in the Wellfleet guidebook.

In Provincetown, vegans and vegetarians flock to Sanette's Karoo Kafe, for South African casual cuisine.

Now your turn. Has anyone enjoyed a particularly good vegetarian meal recently on the Outer Cape or elsewhere?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wellfleet's Farmers' Market Opens Amid Controversy

Yes, our Farmers Market opened today, behind Preservation Hall, but apparently not without being visited by policemen, and they were not looking to buy produce.

"They tried to shut us down," exclaimed Chris Murphy of Nestwood Farm in Truro as I admired his purple basil and other greens.

Sharyn Lindsay, in charge, piped up, "It's true. The cops were here. But we're permitted."

Apparently one of the Selectmen, the only one who opposes this worthwhile initiative, would have said, "We already have a Farmers' Market. It's called Hatch's."

I buy food regularly at Hatch's, and while I love the fact that it offers organic fruit and is located beside the town hall parking lot, I do not consider Hatch's to be a farmers' market. The kids who sell the produce do not work the fields. Lauren does not till the soil. Rob does not catch the fish ... you get the idea. So, back to Wellfleet's true farmers market, where eight merchants had set up stands this morning. I admired fresh baked goods from Wildflour Bakery, the one that is part of Flying Fish Cafe. The granola looked delicious.

"I thought I'd just see carrots and lettuce," Rex Peterson cried with delight, as he bought a pastry and immediately begin eating it.

I also admired the lemon scrub (above) Sharyn was selling, perfect for removal of dirt after gardening.

I bought a dozen eggs from the egg lady, whose name I missed (Sorry!), and three chocolate sunflowers from Soleil. She was watching over the flowers and herbs for her mom.

I was also tempted by the two stands selling homemade jewelry.

Wellfleet is so fortunate to have a farmers' market organized by locals. Every Wednesday, from 8 to noon, behind Preservation Hall. Put it on your calendar now so you don't forget. On my way home, I saw Brailsford Nixon setting out with a tote bag and knew just where she was heading ....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wellfleet Fun in the Sun

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jerusha to Play Preservation Hall

Combine Wellfleet, concern for the environment, and good music, and what have you got? Jerusha and the Beat Greens, who will perform at Preservation Hall this evening at 7 pm to benefit the Homeless Prevention Council. Jerusha’s new album was recently praised in the Cape Cod Times: “Sublime mix … lyrical style … beautiful storytelling.”

Many of you may know Jerusha as the founder of Cape Cool. I was less familiar with the Beat Greens. This local group evolved from the marching band led by Lisa Brown in the annual Independence Day parade, shown here in 2008 or 2009. Members play bucket drums made out of usable recyclables: “Doing the right thing and having fun doing it” could be their motto.

Yesterday I asked the singer/songwriter to explain the title track of her CD ...

“Atmosphere is mostly invisible to us but we couldn’t live without it,” Jerusha said. “What we call the atmosphere of our homes and our towns can also be invisible, but crucial. It’s not just about protecting our air and water and open space. It’s about how we treat each other.”

In other words, community, which makes Prez. Hall the perfect venue for this concert. How important community has become in the second decade of the new millennium!

I salute Jerusha for having taken up the defense of Cape Cod water with a new song, “Powerlines for the People,” a reggae ditty you will not soon forget.

“That’s what it’s all about,” she added. “Creating alliances, supporting each other.”

It’s hard to believe there are Wellfleetians without homes, but this unfortunate situation does exist. Affordable summer rentals are almost impossible to find these days. The Homeless Prevention Council, formerly the Outer Cape Outreach Interfaith Council for the Homeless, works to help those in need.

Jerusha had just returned from the Clearwater Festival, the country’s largest annual environmental celebration, inspired by Pete Seeger. “We got Pete’s autograph on a guitar we will play tomorrow,” she said proudly.

Jerusha won raves Earth Day weekend at the First Encounter Coffee House in Eastham. To reach the gig chosen for release of the new CD, Jerusha and her band of talented musicians took the Flex bus as she suggests on the track, “Turn Toward Peace,” audible on Cape Cool's home page.

Great music, a worthy cause. $10/person. Don’t miss this unique event tonight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Getting Adjusted

Eek, eek, eek! Sven just called and told me his green card has expired! He is due to arrive in Boston tomorrow. Our conversation reminded me of how difficult it had been to get him that green card in the first place ...

My husband is an alien, a Swedish history professor with brains and a pension. Just the type Immigration should want in the USA. At least, that’s what I thought when we began pursuit of permanent residence. The process was far more strenuous than I could ever have imagined. Every INS agent we encountered acted as if one of the applicants had made a colleague swallow Draino and finding the culprit was a sacred mission.

I had met Sven in France. A friend with Embassy contacts offered to get him in on a university quota. We refused. I wouldn't cheat. Oh, no. That was un-American. We planned to request a fiancé visa, which supposedly facilitates immigration

Many documents and five months later, we received Sven’s visa and thought the worst was over. Think again. The marathon had only just begun.

After our fall wedding in Wellfleet, we received convocation to "adjust status." We went into Boston and filed an application so Sven could become a permanent resident, with a green card. Months later the INS gave us an appointment: June 3rd would be Sven’s big day.

When we entered the Federal Building, an official took fingerprints one last time and told us to sit down. There were 100 seats, and half of them were filled. The stiff plastic made the place feel like an airport terminal. Two television screens, tuned to CNN, flashed images of catastrophe that alternated with rewards of capitalism: dream vacations, luxury cars.

Behind us, the tearful voice of a woman explained how she had been conned into paying $2500 for help with paperwork. I would have liked some “help” myself. Certificates, medical records, affidavits of support, copies of tax returns, plus translations of relevant Swedish papers jammed my briefcase.

I glanced around the room. Behind the Stars and Stripes, a picture of a young Clinton. Beside him, Janet Reno, smiling. On a poster to her left, a crowd of Ellis Island immigrants whose long faces warned that changing status might be the least of our worries. Nearby stood an enormous fan, perhaps to cool tempers. It was turned off that day. On an adjacent wall, with hands on haunches, Park-Ranger style, “Team INS” stared confidently into the camera. Why, the USA is one big happy family, their look seemed to say. Everyone’s welcome here.

So far, this Mr.-Rogers-Neighborhood attitude was nowhere in evidence. Agents appeared from time to time and barked out names. Since we were apparently going to be there for a while, I made myself comfortable. Sven took out a book.

We weren't nervous. Oh, no. However, the number of briefcases carried by gray-suited lawyers did give pause. I patted my husband's knee. His case would obviously be more straightforward.

At the back of the room, an Asian woman was quizzing a companion on American History. I knew the names of the two senators from Massachusetts but doubted my husband did. Perhaps her beau was going for citizenship? Not to worry. We were only there getting "adjusted."

Now, at the front desk, a woman began to sob as an official poked a ballpoint into her precious I-485. “Who wrote this down here?” demanded the agent, not toting any gun I could see but impressive all the same. I heard the alien stammer some unintelligible response. “Sorry,” snapped the man. “You’re gonna need a lawyer.”

Beyond the dispute, I glimpsed an image of the Statue of Liberty and the words, You deserve to be treated with professionalism and respect. Request a complaint form or call toll-free on 1-800-869-4499.

“Sven R -!”

Our agent seemed sweet enough until we’d sworn to tell nothing but the truth. Then the questions came as machine-gun fire: “Where did you two meet and when did you decide to get married and when did you actually marry?”

Sven hesitated.

“My husband is really bad with dates,” I stammered, pulling out our marriage license.

Her reptilian eyes focused on Sven, eager to flush out even the most inveterate liar.

“It was in Switzerland, driving through that traffic jam. I decided I couldn't live without her, for life is . . “

But the agent wasn't interested in philosophical digressions. She was on to bigger and better things: “Have you ever participated in any clubs, associations, political parties or participated in terrorist activities?”

While the video camera whirred away, I wondered who would possibly answer yes to this last question.

“What’s your phone number?”

Sven flubbed that one, too. When I reminded her that some people just can’t do numbers, she turned her Kalashnikoff on me.

“What side of the bed does he prefer?” No, she didn't ask that, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if she had. Many of the questions were quite personal. The cross-examination lasted ten minutes.

At last the agent cracked a smile. Apparently the truth had been convincing. “Congratulations. I’m adjusting your status conditionally for two years. Reapply ninety days prior to expiration ...”

What do you think? Will the customs folks let Sven into the country? Will they notice the expired green card? Will he be sent back to Sweden? Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Anyone For Donuts on the Outer Cape?

I admit I would never, ever walk into a Dunkin' Donuts shop, especially the new Dunkin' Donuts in Wellfleet. There would have to be some sort of emergency, like my granddaughter was choking on a Dancing Deer brownie, and we happened to be in the parking lot already at Cove Corners. So, when my son asked for the nearest donut shop, I cringed. Why did they have to eat donuts on Saturday?? How about a nice croissant from PB Boulangerie Bistro?

"Dunkin' Donuts managed to get a spot at Cove Corners," I croaked.

That happened the first Saturday of their visit. The donuts did not pass muster. Yuck.

The following weekend, my son asked if there wasn't a better donuts shop on the Outer Cape.

"At the Fairway?" I said. "It's in Eastham. I've heard they make awesome donuts."

Turns out the name of the donut shop is "Hole in One." My granddaughter ate half a raspberry donut. The donuts were delicious. Even I had one!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Up this Weekend in Wellfleet?

A $50 meet-and-greet is happening right now at the new Wellfleet pharmacy, just down the road from Chez Sven. (I would have gone and reported on it, but no one offered me a free ticket.)

If you missed the pharmacy shindig, try to catch the local band Squidda at one of its appearances this evening: downtown at Mac's Shack, on the harbor at Sol, and finally at a gala event at Cahoon Hollow Beach at the best oceanside bar in the world. You guessed it: the Wellfleet Beachcomber!

If you have not seen Jihad Jones at WHAT, the last performances take place this weekend.

Two great concerts coming up at Preservation Hall: Frank Vignola on Saturday night and Jerusha and the Beat Greens on Monday night to benefit the Homeless Prevention Project.

The rain is supposed to stop, so come discover Wellfleet. Chez Sven has had a cancellation, due to the weather, for our Green Room. (Mention my blog for a discount on the regular rate.)

Gloomy Thoughts on a Rainy Day ...

Over the past year I have accumulated a lot of Facebook friends who care about the environment and worry about the state of the world. Every day there seems to be more evidence indicating toxic chemicals are bad for the environment or additional research showing climate change is very real. Why don’t our legislators do something about these important matters?

Take yesterday’s article from Scientific American: Scientists Warn Chemicals May Be Altering Breast Development. Or, last week, 60 Minutes, Australia, apparently different programming from 60 Minutes, USA, brought a clear warning entitled, The Toxic Truth. Why doesn’t 60 Minutes, USA, report on this topic, too?

Yesterday a friend shared the five-page essay by Al Gore that will soon appear in Rolling Stone, entitled Climate of Denial. This piece came only days after Chris Hedges’ article The Sky Really Is Falling and a warning from scientists about the disastrous state of the oceans, worse than anyone had previously thought. The message in this Huffington Post article was echoed yesterday by CBS News: Mass Extinction Threat “Significant” in Oceans.

Locally, attempts to protect drinking water seem to fall on deaf ears. Of course, there’s the Cape Cod struggle against NStar, but I also follow the hydro-fracking controversy in Pennsylvania and New York, amazed to realize that word has gone out to legislators to support natural gas drilling, even if it pollutes groundwater.

A Green Room guest this week told me about Padukah, Kenntucky, where the aquifer was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and technetium-99 (Tc-99). She said the town was able to drill 800 feet down and find a second aquifer. Now, relate that to Cape Cod’s situation. There is no second aquifer here. We have a sole-source aquifer. If NStar is allowed to proceed with its plan to apply up to five herbicides under the power lines, our water will be contaminated with traces of these toxic chemicals. Glyphosate exposure may create birth defects in the unborn child: it does in lab animals.

Did you know toxic chemicals are also disrupting reproduction? Denmark reports sperm counts down 50%. Certain endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen. You have, no doubt, read about the feminization of frogs. I believe the same thing is happening to humans ...

Facebook postings in the Middle East led to revolution. Sometimes I wonder if that is where this country is heading. I wish we could clone Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bernie Sanders, who are obviously not swayed by lobbyists.

I also read a blog called Attainable Sustainable, where writer Kris Bordessa recommends one small change a day, reviving the art of sustainability. I think we should all apply this approach. But, I’m no longer sure all our little changes will save us, based on what Al Gore says, if legislators continue to put the wishes of corporate funders first.

Any ideas on what it will take to turn this dismal situation around?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prez. Hall Holds First Clothing Swap

Monday evening the Preservation Hall Programming Committee organized a clothing swap and was it ever fun. Sky Freyss-Cole was manning the door when I arrived. The entry fee of $10 entitled you to food and drink, as well as swapped clothing. “The idea came from Emily Frawley,” Sky told me. “I had one at my house last year. Emily joined the programming committee and we decided, as a committee, to do it as a fundraiser.”

“Sky, I’m going to leave,” a woman interrupted. “That was so much fun!”

“I’m going to look prettier tomorrow because of you,” Nancy O’Connell said, exiting at the same time with a full bag of clothing.

By 7:30, 25 people had participated and the party was only half over. It was a young crowd, although Sky admitted some of her mom’s friends had already come and gone. The idea was simple: bring something, take something. Women milled around the tables, holding up a shirt or a pair of jeans. Small children danced around the table in the middle, which was laden with fresh fruit. A husband waited outside. Rosie Hatch held a friend’s one-month old baby while the mother of four tried on clothes. There were shoes and jewelry, hats and bags, aprons. I checked out some of the t-shirts and noticed a quantity of small and extra-small sizes, not perfect for the more mature woman I have become. But that was okay.

“It’s even fun to watch people try things on,” Sky declared. “It’s great because if they don’t like it, you can scoop it up after having had it modeled for you. We even had people join from off the street.”

People, as in tourists, I suppose she meant. Still, the event focused on helping community members improve their wardrobe without spending a cent.

Just then Tracy Harmon Hay arrived with a niece and a bag full of clothing. I heard someone tell her in an excited voice, “I’m going to follow you around.”

A guy came in, spoke to Sky, and turned away,
disappointed that this swap was only for gals. The Preservation Hall Programming Committee plans another swap in the fall. Who knows? Perhaps guys’ clothes will also be accepted?

“I know it will grow from here,” added Ariana Bradford, another committee member, who was eying the collection of shoes, divided up by size, when I introduced myself. “I’ve gotten some really good stuff tonight.”

For me, this event again proved community is alive and well in Wellfleet. And, I took home a cool shirt, too!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creating Memories that Last a Lifetime ...

Happy summer, everybody! If I was technically clever, I would here insert a riff from one of the many rock tunes that feature the word “summer,” but you will have to simply use your imagination. Now, with the weather cooperating with blissful sunny days, it’s easier to think about what summer means, and summer vacation in particular. For many people, summer vacation = Wellfleet.

Our current Green Room guests both came to Cape Cod as children. The man told me about memories of walking out on the flats, at low tide; fishing with his father out of Wellfleet Harbor; exploring the various beaches. He was here to relive those memories and share them with his girlfriend, as well as to kayak.

This conversation made me realize that my son had been doing exactly the same thing during his visit earlier this month. He had enjoyed walking down to PJs for ice cream cones, so he went with his daughter, more than once. The first place he took his family was Duck Harbor. The second place was Dyer Pond. We went out for lobster at Moby Dick’s and learned Todd Barry once worked for David Francis at the Lobster Hutt, just as did my son. What Todd does at Moby’s is, in fact, a copy of the model David launched. Even the red and white oilcloths on the tables are similar. The Wellfleet flea market was also on the family list of must-sees. What my son was doing was creating happy memories of summer for his own children, based on childhood experiences.

Favorite summer memories for me include collecting fireflies in a jar with holes and then letting them go. My brother surely would remember our games of Wiffle ball in Washington, DC. For my eldest daughter, the memory would be roasting marshmallows. What are yours?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another Letter to the Editor Published Today

Check out today's Cape Cod Times. The editor published my letter with the heading, "Too many unknowns exist to persist in herbicide use":

“I urge readers to sign the GreenCAPE petition against herbicidal spraying at

Our sole-source aquifer is at risk of contamination. People are talking about herbicides from Provincetown to Sandwich. Indeed, two of the five toxic chemicals NStar intends to spray under the power lines have been in the news this week. The first is Glyphosate. Consumers know this chemical as Round-Up, a powerful weed-killer. According to a report by Earth Open Source, Monsanto and industry regulators have known for decades that Glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals.

The second herbicide is imazapyr, which the National Seashore plans to use on a Truro cranberry bog. This chemical kills reeds, known as phragmites. The Seashore also intends to apply imazapyr at Herring Pond, in Wellfleet, this fall. One study found imazapyr in groundwater 8 years after its application.

At a time when herbicide use across the country has come under intense scrutiny, it seems crazy to me to persist in using herbicides. Scientists are connecting the dots and realizing toxic chemicals can lead to autism, ADHD, and other diseases.

Since traces of these herbicides will end up in our drinking water, I urge those responsible at both NStar and the National Seashore to seek safer options.”

Thoughts on Promotion, Reviews, and Blog Readers

I have never been a fan of Trip Advisor. Now, dissed by a Memorial Day client, I like this site even less.

The couple stayed in our Green Room. The reviewer describes the rug as “well-worn.” Maybe it could do with a trip to the cleaners but the colors, beige and green, are perfect with the wallpaper and add to the feeling of serenity, which most Green Room guests appreciate. These lovely ladies from England, for instance, here last week for four days, loved the Green Room. Miranda and Jane wrote in the guestbook, “Has been enchanting. You’ve made us feel very welcome, a true home away from home.”

Our Memorial Day couple also took issue with breakfast. They wanted it more “wholesome.” Actually, the wife requested almond butter and toast, so that’s what she got, along with fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt, all organic, standard fare at Chez Sven.

The reviewer states, “the B&B was much less of a value than other B&Bs we've visited on Cape Cod.” Trip Advisor lists the rate as $150-$180. The rate, in season, is actually $200/night. Holiday weekends are the same as summer. These folks came the night before Memorial Day, so they had the Green Room one night for $150, which is what similar-category B&Bs charge.

Fourth negative comment: the couple reported that the photos on our Web site do not reflect reality, and singled out, in particular, the kitchen. Dan Cutrona spent a day taking the photos. We live in this house and use the kitchen and living room, so that’s why they look “lived in.” That’s the whole point of choosing a B&B over a hotel, to get a peek at the life the innkeepers lead in a specific community.

And, the couple had seemed to be enjoying themselves. That's what was so surprising to me. Did they realize how writing such a review might impact my business? Could they have been unhappy because a sister, who had later tried to book separately for Memorial Day weekend, did not get a room?

I was still digesting the nastiness when there came a knock at the door. A blog reader named Tim stood outside. He had contacted me earlier and asked if he might stop by to say hello. I explained my recent discovery of the Trip Advisor review and said that I was still smarting from it.

“Oh, don’t let that bother you,” laughed Tim,, a successful sports writer from New York City. Tim said he reads Chezsven Blog faithfully every day. He was accompanied by his toddler son Nicholas, and wife Stella, who works at HBO. They like Wellfleet so much that they are thinking of buying real estate here.

We all know how resilient writers need to be when it comes to criticism. I’m great at criticism of my writing, but I don’t like erroneous information being posted on a reference site that affects my bottom line. Tim and Stella sympathized.

We discussed the beaches and restaurants.

“Mac’s Shack? Overpriced,” he opined. “$32 for a piece of halibut, I mean, come on!”

We didn’t know each other but felt as if we were already friends due to our shared appreciation for this special town. Of course, we also have Chezsven Blog in common. What’s more Tim and Stella are Springsteen fans, and I HEART Springsteen fans.

Five and a half years ago, I started writing a blog as promotion for the B&B, but my blog has morphed into so much more. Although Chezsven Blog is about being a green innkeeper and living on the Outer Cape year-round, Wellfleet is really the star, not me or Chez Sven. This was the third time I have had a visit from a blog reader. Tim and Stella thanked me over and over for my daily updates on life here and, by the time they left, I felt a whole lot better about the Trip Advisor review.

What do you think about Trip Advisor? Do you let yourself be swayed by one review if it is substantially different from the others? Blogs are often touted as "platform" for writers. Do you think a good blog really serves to promote the writer? Why do you read this blog?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chez Sven Featured in Cape Cod View

Last weekend I retrieved the mail, as usual, and was leafing through the latest issue of Cape Cod View, when a photo caught my eye: OUR dining room. What was a photo of our dining room, taken by Cape photographer Dan Cutrona, doing in Cape Cod View? Then I looked at the byline and realized the article had been written by a reporter who called a few months ago from the Cape Cod Times. Apparently, the CCT was not interested in her report on green accommodation, so she must have taken the piece elsewhere. The July issue arrived just in time to show my son and his family before they left for California. If you get a chance, pick up a copy. And, once you have read the magazine and do not need it anymore, please let me know so I can have a second and third. Thanks!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Flowers & Fowl: Meeting the Chickens of Wellfleet

The chicken coops of Wellfleet were on display Saturday
afternoon during Preservation Hall’s annual garden tour, dubbed this year “Flowers & Fowl.” I was fortunate enough to attend the fundraiser with my French-speaking granddaughter, a familiar face already for some of the chicken coop owners who read this blog. I know nothing about chickens, although I have been told a few hens might add to our B&B’s charm. Mostly I interact with fowl when I cook it with curry. Juliette, on the other hand, has already petted chickens at a farm in California, where she celebrated her fourth birthday, one year ago. She held my hand as we walked from the Long Pond parking lot to Sharon Lindsay’s yard. We headed straight for the back where goats were braying. Sharon allowed us to step into the coop. Several other attendees milled around. Juliette and I had prepared a few questions. It was Sharyn's first "chicken interview."

Me: “Do the chickens have names?”

Sharyn: “My first batch did. I named them after my girlfriends.”

Juliette: “How many eggs a day?”

Sharyn: “Fifteen!”

Juliette: “Do you have any poussins?”

Me: “That’s French for chicks.”

Sharyn: “Peep is three weeks old. Want to gather some eggs with me, Juliette?”

You can bet the answer to that question was yes. Juliette got to hold Peep and left proudly clutching an egg in each hand.

We said hello/goodbye to the goats, and it was off to Mac Hay and Tracy Harmon Hay’s new home where a lemonade sign decorated the front lawn. Juliette immediately made friends with Lil, one year her senior, who suggested a private tour of the family coop. I ran after the two girls and got to “Mr. MacGregor’s Garden” just as they ducked into the small chicken house Mac had built, pulling the door shut behind them. Suddenly a hen let out a shriek. I could hear flapping as the door swung open again to release the girls. “It was cobwebby in there,” Juliette reported.Lil then gave us a tour of the house. Her sister, Bella, sold Juliette an organic cotton t-shirt. Docent Tracy Plaut pulled Juliette and Lil close for this photo. Then Bella showed us her chicken paintings, displayed on a string along one wall. Meanwhile, Lil had resumed watch over the lemonade. Both girls warned us that the next coop featured “mean” chickens. We set off anyway.

I enjoyed visiting Liz Grant's beautiful garden. There were bees, and a great variety of flowers, but we had chickens on the brain and did not stay.

Next door, we checked out Bob & Lorraine LaPointe’s Bonsai Chicken Coop. There were no roosters, but fabulous big, healthy chickens, eagerly scratching and waiting around for a little girl like Juliette to feed them. This we did not know, being chicken-ignorant, but Sharyn Lyndsay swooped in, on a break from her own coop, and showed us how the feeding worked. Juliette caught on right away. (Can anyone guess whose foot this is?)

The Bonsai Chicken Coop hens made appropriate chicken sounds, not clucking but a gentle murmur that was interrupted by a squawk from time to time.

“Maybe they call them the squeaking chickens?” Juliette mused.

“Want to go home now?” I asked.

“I want to see more chicken groups,” she replied.

"Coops, you mean," I corrected.

Our final stop was Lisa Brown and Deirdre Oringers’s Bound Brook Island home. Their chickens roam free in the yard there and came promptly when Lisa called.

“Arrow, the rooster, likes Redback best,” Wellfleet's favorite local high school teacher explained. “That’s why she’s missing feathers.”

The seven chickens provided 4 to 5 eggs a day. They were “wine dots” and “black dots.” These hens looked very different from the buff-colored beauties at the LaPointes, presumably the “mean” ones Lil and Bella had warned us about.

“I really liked the chicken group where I got the shirt, and the one where I got the eggs,” Juliette told me as we drove home.

Not as many people attended Flowers & Fowl as in years past. This was a mistake. They missed a super community event. Juliette and I really enjoyed ourselves.

Note: Read more about the Prez. Hall 2010 garden tour and the Prez. Hall 2009 garden tour.

Laxmi Opens in Wellfleet

Visitors to Wellfleet this season will find a brand new jewelry shop to explore, tucked away off 313 Main. Laxmi bears the name of its owner, a gentle soul whom I met yesterday for the first time. Wellfleetians may remember Laxmi as co-founder of Cello, a 1990s restaurant. More recently, she was at Mitchel’s Bistro in Eastham. After leaving the restaurant business, Laxmi embraced handicrafts in a big way.

“I try to do girly things,” she said with a nervous smile, since my visit turned out to be her first interview as a Wellfleet shop owner. “I make my own jewelry. This shop has always been my dream.”

Laxmi uses mother of pearl and hand-blown lamp-work beads, but also works in semi-precious stones like garnet, amber, turquoise and amethyst. Her necklaces are amazing. I also admired the Jobi pottery and vases. In the back room, women will enjoy the quirky clothing and accessories. A polka-dot scarf immediately caught my eye. The outfits looked easy to wear, and fun.

“I have plans to go global, but for now we do mostly American handicrafts,” Laxmi said. “I’m looking for local artists,” she added.

American handicrafts is fine by me. In fact, better. I have cousins who always buy a piece of jewelry while on their Wellfleet vacation. They will find treasures here. I’ll also be telling guests. Laxmi is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill shop. Do stop in and browse on your next trip downtown ….

Friday, June 17, 2011

Newcomb Hollow, Yesterday