Saturday, April 30, 2011

What's Happening in May and June?

Some of you may have noticed the badge to the right. It indicates I will be participating in the blogathon again this year. The fun starts tomorrow, so stay tuned!

The air smells sweet, and the sun will shine this weekend, so we have reason to rejoice. I HEART Spring. Don't you? Our German family had to endure five days of showers, but that did not slow them down. They tried almost all of our local restaurants, a different one every night. I was amazed at how well the children looked after themselves, playing in the garden, while the parents went jogging or read books. We had some great discussions over breakfast. The children always wear smiles. It's been nice to witness their energy and joie de vivre.

I will miss these new friends when they leave tomorrow. That's another hard part of being an innkeeper: getting attached to guests, only to have them depart. But things are revving up in town. Check out some of the events scheduled in May and June.

Seasonal restaurants open: May 5.

Preservation Hall Grand Opening: May 14.

Eco-Expo: May 21.

Third Annual Birdhouse Auction at Preservation Hall: May 29.

Bernard Greenhouse Concert (Gala Benefit Celebrating Health Care): June 4.

Restaurant week in Wellfleet: June 5-11.

Harborfest: June 11.

Preservation Hall Chicken Coop Tour: June 18.

Friday, April 29, 2011

B&B Etiquette: Email or Phone Contact?

Check out the wisteria from last year! As soon as the sun returns full-time, our wisteria will bloom. Seagull Cottage looks so marvelous covered with lavender blossoms. The cottage is already booked from the beginning of June to the last week of August. Our reservations are way up this year. Strangely enough, almost three-fourths of the guests will travel here from Europe.

Some innkeepers prefer to be contacted by phone. Others prefer email. On the Chez Sven Web site, our preference is mentioned. It should be clear that we prefer email.

I multi-task and tend to be very busy. Answering the phone is not always convenient, like earlier in the week, for example, in the middle of dinner, when I was rushing to get ready for the second night of Town Meeting. Now, I could have not answered, true. But, perhaps someone important was calling? So I picked up the receiver and sat back down at the computer clicking open the online availability calendar.

CALLER: “I want to reserve for August.”

ME: “For what dates?”

CALLER: “August 4, 5, 6, 7. Do you have availability?”

ME: “Yes, those dates are free. We do prefer contact by email. I’m running out, going to town meeting. Sorry, I’m really in a rush. Could you email me your request? Oh, wait a second. I was looking at April. Nope, I’m sorry, we are fully booked August 4, 5, 6, 7.”

The man hangs up on me. Now I realize I was a bit short with him, but still. This phone call was a stark reminder of why innkeepers burn out so fast. Some strangers have no respect.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Catch of the Day Caught My Attention

When our German guests returned from dinner and declared they had experienced “spectacular seafood” at Catch of the Day, I decided Sven and I could put off no longer a trip to the Route 6 restaurant located close by the Marconi Beach traffic light and already open daily. I noted the clam-basket lampshades and kid-friendly atmosphere as we settled in at our table. Surprise, surprise! Bob from Sweet Liberty B&B sat nearby with several friends. A couple minutes later Peter Hall walked in with his wife Marike. Before even glancing at the menu, I had understood Catch of the Day must be doing something right.

“It’s early enough to get our Early Bird Specials,” announced our waitress with a genuine smile.

Actually, the time was five minutes to six. We hastened to accept Raimi’s generous offer.

“It’s a great little place,” I overhead one of Bob’s guests say.

In summer, it’s possible to eat lunch or dinner on the terrace where a raw bar was recently constructed. No sooner had we ordered than the dishes appeared. Sven had the mussels, I chose salmon. I asked Raimi about the buckets of shellfish, which were featured last year at extraordinarily low rates.

“We couldn’t keep that going,” she said with real regret. “Shellfish prices went up. But we have some great new desserts.”

The waitress promptly brought over a slice of cheesecake and some sort of yummy but rich chocolate mousse layer cake and showed them off with such pride that it felt as if she must have helped write the recipes.

Manager Jason Kew stopped by the table to say hello. I asked him about the swordfish sandwich and fish tacos, which several guests raved about last year.

“We sauté them,” he specified. “They’re the most popular. Fresh corn sauce.

I was perusing the menu again. Wellfleet Fisherman’s Stew cost $21. A Cape Cod clambake, priced daily, also attracted my attention.

As Sven says, when you go to a foreign country, check out where the locals eat. Catch of the Day sure scores on that criterion. Affordable cuisine, pleasant atmosphere, cheerful staff. This is a place I will continue to recommend to guests.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Getting Riled Up Over Toxic Chemicals

How beautiful the Atlantic Ocean! If only there were no toxic chemicals in it. But plastic bags get into the water and disintegrate. Then fish eat the pieces. We eat the fish ...

I did not get to the ocean today, occupied with preparation of the cottage for guests and the writing of another op-ed on toxic chemicals in the environment. Yesterday evening I attended the second half of Town Meeting. I spoke in favor of the bio-degradable packaging article, proposed by the Recycling Commission. First, I showed off my baskets and Chico-bag.

Here's my little speech:

"Toxic chemicals in the environment are making us sick.

I just read a book called The Polluters. It’s about the strategies, used by the chemical industry over the years, to avoid regulation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has just taken a stand against toxic chemicals in the environment. Whoa, you say. What does all this have to do with biodegradable packaging? My response is EVERYTHING. We need to change the way we conduct our lives, person by person, day by day, plastic item by plastic item. We add 800 pounds of packaging per person, per year to the waste stream.

Running a green bed & breakfast has shown me that tourists do understand environmental issues. Our guests come back from dinner happier when they eat at local restaurants that have already embraced bio-degradable packaging.

Restaurant owners, think of this as an opportunity. Put your brand on reusable totes and sell them.

If Wellfleet could earn a green reputation, it would be great for all of our businesses. Let’s be the first town to take action.

I salute the Recycling Commission, for all it has accomplished, and urge you to support this article."

Sadly, the warrant article was indefinitely postponed, at the recommendation of the Board of Selectmen, unwilling to burden the town's businessmen and women in time of recession.

I spoke with Recycling Commission chair Lydia Vivante this afternoon and two members, Elspeth Hay and Andrea Pluhar, will join a task force to study a "pay as you throw" option.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oyster Shells & Defeat of Article to Prevent McMansions

This morning we received a delivery of shells for our driveway. The German children, staying here, were fascinated. I told them the story of our archeologist guest and the midden, up Old King's Highway. Most innkeepers will not accept children, but I find their energy so invigorating. After a daily excursion into town, they run around the house in frantic games of hide and seek. Yesterday they went whale-watching. Last night they enjoyed Wicked Oyster. Today the family will try to go to PJs for lunch and Catch of the Day for dinner. I explained how PJs went green, with bio-degradable packaging, which drew smiles. (Germany is way ahead of us with its recycling programs.) Our German guests also approved of our recycling of oyster shells!

Last night I attended Town Meeting. A proposal for a new athletic field off Lawrence Road drew a lot of speakers, many of whom spoke in opposition. I even got up and protested the assertion that tourists need a track for running: our German guests have enjoyed jogging around Dyer Pond, a natural trail with a carpet of pine needles underfoot. The article was defeated.

The big event was defeat of Article 32, proposed by the Planning Board, to limit house size. Some folks criticized the complicated wording. Others decried a possible lack of construction work in time of recession. Short-sighted of them, if you ask me. Many Wellfleetians, who do not usually come to Town Meeting, showed up last night. Selectman Berta Brunooge expressed her exasperation when she realized the opposition in the room and stated to the assembled crowd, "You supported this three years ago!" Ah yes. But not the same people were present. Berta requested a hand count, after the traditional voice vote. The numbers were 128 in favor, and 168 against.

Town Meeting was adjourned at 11 pm. It will continue tonight, when the petitioned article for bio-degradable packaging is to be presented. I urge all those who care about the environment to show up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What's For Breakfast?

Yesterday I mentioned having driven to Orleans for organic strawberries. Of course, I was doing other things as well in the neighboring town, but this choice shows how important it is to me that our guests eat organic. The recommendation is even more urgent for children. I was pleased to learn this morning that the American Academy of Pediatrics has finally spoken out against toxic chemicals in the environment. Indeed, the news was on CNN, which mentioned Senator Frank Lautenberg's Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. Read about it in US News and World Report.

Often guests ask, over breakfast, how living in France affected me. Today, if someone had asked, I would have mentioned the presentation of food. The French make food look appetizing. Breakfast is a key meal of the day and crucial for tourists with high-energy plans in mind. We make sure they get organic breakfast options, but I must admit the color of the fruit makes a difference, too. Since I serve a large bowl of fruit every day and obtaining organic fruit is not always a possibility, I try to include pineapples, which have less risk of pesticide residue and stand out in the bowl.

Of course, most berries come in plastic containers but we recycle them. In summer, Hatch's will open on the Town Hall parking lot, and make obtaining organic fruit easier. Usually Hatch's uses cardboard containers.

Tonight, at Town Meeting, one of the issues I care about the most will be up for discussion: the proposal for a by-law that requires bio-degradable packaging and encourages Wellfleet to "sack the bag." How do you feel about this warrant article?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bonus Post: LeCount Hollow, Today

An April Day in the Life

I got up early yesterday morning in order to have breakfast ready for our Green Room guests at 8:30. I sat with them and chatted for a while. He’s an organic farmer, and she’s an environmentalist, so we had a lot to talk about. Here was another opportunity to share Our Stolen Future by Dr. Theo Colborn! I have given away almost a dozen of her books now. After breakfast, I helped Sven prepare Liberty Coin Suite for a family from Germany. Then off I went in the rain, to the bank in Orleans. After depositing two checks, I headed around the corner to Phoenix Fruit and bought their last three containers of organic strawberries, not yet available in Wellfleet. I continued on to Yarmouth for a visit with my dentist, where I waited a half hour while he finished up with an earlier patient. On the way back, I stopped in Orleans again at Stop & Shop. Easter means many folks return to the Cape to open up second homes after the winter, and the parking lot was full. Fortunately, there were spaces at PB Boulangerie! I stopped for bread and waited about ten minutes in line. Since Philip's wife Valeria seemed quite frazzled, I deduced PB must have been having a busy Easter weekend. Once home, I chatted with our guests some more. They had braved the rain in Provincetown and were now in search of a restaurant for dinner. Once we had made them a reservation at Wicked Oyster, I waited for the Liberty Coin guests to arrive. I read the newspaper. I read Facebook. I paced a bit – it’s hard to start a project when you know it may be interrupted at any time – then I read Facebook some more. Sven and I sat down to dinner at 6. By 8 pm, I had really begun to wonder what had happened to the Germans. Was their plane late? No doubt. At 8:26 I received an email saying they had just crossed the Sagamore Bridge. Another hour of waiting lay ahead of me, but at least I knew when they would get here. Waiting for guests is definitely one of the worst parts of being an innkeeper!

Friday, April 22, 2011

7 Ways To Protect Loved Ones from E. D. on Earth Day

Above, Cape Coolers cross Uncle Tim’s Bridge during their annual Earth Day walk. Earth Day focuses attention on the environment, but I have been thinking about our environment for months, as regular readers may have remarked. Impossible to get out of my mind the January YouTube warning from Dr. Theo Colborn, who claims the issue of global warming is moot because endocrine disruption (E. D.) will get us first.

What is an endocrine disruptor? A “xenoestrogen” that “interferes with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for normal cell metabolism, reproduction, development, and/or behavior.”

A xenostrogen is also called an estrogen mimic. They are, “industrially made compounds such as PCB, BPA and Phthalates, widely used in recent decades, that have estrogenic effects to the living organisms although they differ chemically from the naturally occurring estrogenic substances internally produced by their endocrine system. Their potential ecological and human health impact is recently under extensive study by many scientific institutions and independent researchers.” (Both definitions from Wikipedia.)

Exposure to endocrine disruptors prior to birth is especially critical. Studies have shown up to 200 different toxic chemicals in umbilical cord blood. As early as 1992, Danish medical doctors warned of a 50% drop in sperm count in the Northern Hemisphere over the previous 50 years due to endocrine disruption. So, let’s think about how Wellfleetians and visitors to the Outer Cape might encounter endocrine disruptors and learn to avoid them:

EATING: Canned goods are still lined with BPA; whether you bring cans from home, or buy cans here, if you eat what’s in those cans, you ingest BPA. Watch out for pesticide residue on fruit, especially cranberries, but also non-organic blueberries and strawberries. Eating out brings no guarantee meals will be chemical-free. Find out which restaurants serve organic produce. Buy fresh produce at farmers’ markets.

DRINKING: I believe any filter is better than none. At Chez Sven, we filter our water. Buy organic juices in glass bottles. Ask for squeezed organic oranges at breakfast. Join the local movement to stop NStar from spraying up to five herbicides under the power lines, which will put endocrine-disruptors in our sole-source aquifer, ie. the water we will drink for generations.

RENTING: Many rentals are sprayed with insecticides before each season to prevent ant infestation. Tell your rental agent you prefer ants to a risk of toxic chemical residue on surfaces children may touch. Demand the folks who clean your rental use non-toxic cleaners.

SUNBATHING: Avoid tanning agents that contain parabens and other endocrine disrupters. Check the products you buy at the Environmental Working Group 2010 Sunscreen Guide. (EWG also provides a cosmetic database called Skin Deep that was updated this month.)

HIKING: When you go out into the woods,
protect yourself from ticks, but eschew products with DEET. Instead obtain organic sprays that work, like Bite Blocker Xtreme Insect Repellent, available online. In a local department store, I found the shelves laden with DEET-products and one lone bottle of organic spray. (Today I wrote to the store and requested they go organic for the 2012 season.)

SHOPPING: We live in a plastic world. Do your part to turn this situation around. Bring your tote or basket when shopping. If an overzealous shopkeeper offers a plastic bag, say no. If he/she asks if you want a plastic bag, thank him/her for asking.

WASHING: Use natural soaps and safe detergent brands like Seventh Generation.

No time to watch Dr. Colborn’s video? Here’s a summary and please share with your loved ones on Earth Day: “If there is only one message you take home from this lecture, I want it to be that a vast number of widely dispersed fossil-fuel derived chemicals are altering how our children are constructed before they are born and how they behave and function in adulthood and could be posing a more imminent threat than climate change to the survival of humans and all living organisms on earth.”

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Read Why I Became an Activist

Today is my son Paul's birthday. His children are the reason I fight so hard on behalf of the environment. Read my first post at Open Salon and please share your pre-Earth-day thoughts. Thanks!

Empty Beaches = Paradise for Dogs

Sven is allergic to animals, so we have none but always enjoy watching the dogs frolic at the beaches here. They express such joy at being able to run and play. I love the way they scratch the sand and prance about. Last week Gordon was having a particularly good time catching the Frisbee his owner would throw. The spectacle made us linger nearby before our walk, in total admiration of Gordon's abilities. Dog-lovers, why do your pets enjoy the beach so much?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Sheets Arrive!

Everyone enjoys receiving packages, and, when you run a bed & breakfast, spring feels like Christmas with new amenities arriving every week or so. I especially enjoy receiving our organic cotton sheets, made by Coyuchi and so incredibly soft, as well as being better for the planet, since no pesticides are involved. Have you switched to organic cotton yet?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outer Cape Celebrates Earth Week

Provincetown is celebrating Earth Week. Check out the calendar of events here. Wellfleet's Jerusha, of Cape Cool, will be participating. Join her on a Flex Bus ride from Harwich to P-town on Friday at 2:30, listen to her new locally produced CD "atmosphere" on the Chuck Cole WOMR early morning show this Thursday, hike around Wellfleet Village at 4 that afternoon and browse Wellfleet's great selection of green library books, or go to the First Encounter Coffee House in Eastham, Saturday, 8 pm, where Jerusha and the Beat Greens will perform "Green Songs for a Blue Planet," with Nauset World Music Ensemble. Quite a program!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts While Walking to Dyer Pond

Sven and I are fortunate to be able to walk through the woods to Dyer Pond, deep in the National Seashore. The walk only takes a dozen minutes or so. Every time we go, I'm struck by the magnificence of Nature. How almighty she is, how precious. I think of my children, my grandchildren. Why allow pollution? Why destroy the planet? What are Tea Partiers thinking in trying to dismantle the EPA? Since I've been doing a lot of reading prior to Earth Day, I looked at the blue, blue water of Dyer Pond and railed against the world greed has created.

My latest read, Pollution: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment by Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter. The book is not on our blue bookshelf because the text is too darn technical and rather depressing. Pollution recounts the conscious choices made right before, and right after, World War II, ie. how polluters went about ducking regulation and "corrupting democracy," in the words of Robert Kennedy, Jr..

It was Rachel Carson who turned the tide. Then, environmental crises at the end of the 1960s drew the attention of the public, and the EPA was created. I graduated from college in 1969 and remember how eagerly a friend's husband joined after law school. It only took a couple years for him to lament the limited purview of this environmental institution and leave government service.

Earth Day was proclaimed April 22, 1970, one day after my son's birth. I would love to say how far we have come, but we haven't. The chemical industry has us in a stranglehold and has no intention of letting go.

But, but, but, people like you and me can change that.

Yesterday I read an article in Salon about how a young writer's fear of having gotten cancer led him to realize the toxic chemical stew we live in may be making us sick.

I got an email this week from Breast Cancer Action, "the first national breast cancer organization to refuse funding from corporations that contribute to or profit from breast cancer so that our work remains uncompromised." BCA works to:

"Eliminate toxins that permeate our everyday lives and increase breast cancer rates.

Build national collaborations with under-served communities to overcome health inequity.

Put patients’ interests before corporate profits through legal and drug approval processes."

Wait. Read those statements again. BCA is targeting toxic chemicals in the environment and putting our interests ahead of corporate profits. We need more organizations like this one. That's where I will be sending a contribution this Earth Day.

I'm waiting for the tipping point, where people catch on, where toxic chemicals will be acknowledged as one cause of cancer, where politicians are brave enough to stand up to corporate interests.

Do you think that day will ever come?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Liberty Coin Suite Again Welcomes Guests

We have guests in Liberty Coin Suite for the first time this season. It's Patriot's Day tomorrow, and lots of cars are about as non-residents take advantage of the three-day holiday to open houses. As usual, the parking lot at PB was full when I drove past yesterday, on my way to Orleans for organic fruit. The weather is not ideal, but our guests will be cozy under their warm duvets. Making Liberty Coin Suite available means several extra hours of work for Sven and me. (Think spring cleaning.) During the week, I caught half a dozen mice. Catching mice is not my favorite job, but it's necessary. (If only Sven didn't have allergies, we could get a cat!) I put a few sprigs of forsythia in a vase to brighten the room. Without the sun, even with the skylight shades up, it's a bit dark in there on rainy days. Once we had finished preparation, a distinct feeling of pride came over me. We did this. We made this place look incredible. Check out how nice the Cape Cod Braided Rug Company’s rugs are!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Art Season Launches Early At Harmon Gallery

Nothing for months, and then all Wellfleet shows up at the Harmon Gallery to celebrate Caleb Potter and his artist friends who suffered brain injuries. Tiaras and Ties was one happening event. Of course, Sharyn Lindsay, Caleb's mom, has been telling everyone for weeks. And, Sky Freyss-Cole did the publicity, notably sending invitations via Facebook. Not surprising that the event was standing room only, and not much standing room at that. Elegant ladies in long dresses and men in ties everywhere. Sven and I stopped by around 5:45, not realizing the dress code, but no one noticed. Tiaras graced heads. Old friends exchanged greetings. New friends shook hands. Traci Harmon-Hay told me how pleased she was to be launching the 2011 art season with this extraordinary show. The rooms were so packed that we decided to come back tomorrow, when it will be possible to view the art from 12 to 3. Sharyn summed up her emotions well on her blog, which you may want to visit. Her report of sharing with Traci, also a mother, I found particularly moving. Outside, Traci's husband Mac was directing traffic. Guests were still arriving as we exited. Can't wait to see the exhibit tomorrow!

How Oysters Get Unloaded at the Marina

Friday, April 15, 2011

Senator Lautenberg Introduces Safe Chemicals Act

Last week I attended a meeting regarding a Town Meeting warrant article that would require bio-degradable packaging for Wellfleet. The article was based on legislation enacted by Nantucket. Lydia Vivante, Chair of the Recycling Commission, led the discussion. This warrant article seems quite timely, for yesterday Senator Frank Lautenberg, of New Jersey, brought before Congress a bill called Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. Readers of this blog have often listened to my arguments in favor of the regulation of toxic chemicals in the environment. Now, it's time to do something about the situation. I urge you to contact your senators and ask them to support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. Please watch this video and spread the word. Thanks!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thoughts on Buying a New Coffee Machine

The ability to provide good coffee is an important part of being an innkeeper. Here at Chez Sven, we serve organic free trade and grind whole beans every morning. Recently I have been in a quandary about what type of coffee machine to purchase for 2011. These gadgets are convenient but do not last very long. Recent models have built-in filters, which is fine, until you need to change the filter and cannot find the same type in local stores. I tried leaving a French press in the cottage over the past two months and decided guests do prefer coffee machines. So, I have been looking for a new one. Have you ever thought about what most coffee machines are made of? The water goes into a receptacle that, even in metal machines, is usually plastic. At Chez Sven, plastic is something we try to avoid.

Yesterday, on my way back from Boston, I checked out the selection at Costco. The box for the new Cuisinart "Brew-Central" is marked BPA-free. I did not expect BPA in a coffee machine but still was glad to see Cuisinart is aware of the risk BPA poses to health.

In France, I brewed coffee in a small metal coffee pot. Snow's, in Orleans, sells this type, but I know, from experience, that the larger ones are hard to close and that the rubber ring needs regular replacement. Still, that would have been my choice were I not running a B&B.

"Do you think this coffee pot was made in China?" I asked Sven this morning.

"Bet it is," he responded. "Everything is made in China these days."

I turned over the box, and sure enough. What a shame the United States lost these industries because manufacture is cheaper abroad! That's the reason for our runaway deficit. Everything is Made in China, stuff that breaks and needs to be replaced.

What type of coffee pot do you use? Any suggestions on how to avoid plastic while brewing coffee?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wellfleet Pizza Curries Favor

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wellfleet Renovates Main Street Sidewalks

New sidewalks are coming to Main Street. The cracked ones have been removed, and the heavy equipment is in place. Traffic ceases on week days so the work crews can get things done efficiently. The project is proceeding in stages. This week the sidewalks between Bank Street and Holbrook Avenue were ripped up. Not everyone is too pleased with the results. Dirt gets tracked into stores, although most are not yet open. Wellfleet Marketplace has even put a rug out, like a red carpet, so shoppers, parked out front, need not sully their shoes.

Someone emailed to ask whether the only sidewalks being renovated are along Main. As far as I can tell, the answer to that question is yes. Over the years, I have listened in on the discussions of various committees in town, either as a member or as committee secretary or as a member of the audience, and the idea of creating more sidewalks has been raised quite frequently. It is always dismissed for lack of funding. I'm really glad the existing sidewalks will be in better shape, both for those of us who walk downtown, for some Wellfleetians do, AND for the tourists. If you would like to see more sidewalks constructed, you might contact the Town Administrator and consider a donation for that purpose.

What do you think? Should all the streets downtown offer sidewalks to pedestrians? Which streets should receive sidewalks in priority?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Talking Ossuaries and Middens Over Breakfast

I like to think of all our guests as remarkable, but every once and a while individuals come who feel like old friends. Margaret and Jim are of that category. Jim is an archeologist and excavated on Cape Cod in the late 1970s, on assignment for the National Seashore. Margaret has an equally fascinating job working with scientists in Boston and does community volunteer work. The four of us hit it off immediately. We had great discussions over breakfast.

Margaret had heard of Our Stolen Future but not read Dr. Theo Colborn’s excellent book on endocrine disruption, so I gave her a copy.

Jim shared marvelous stories about first encounters between colonists and Native Americans. Here's one: apparently, some colonists gave a group of “Indians” a copper kettle. There was copper in the “new world,” and the natives were skillful at working it. The natives must have thought, why put such a large piece of valuable metal over a fire pit? Instead, they cut up the kettle and created rings and bracelets, much to the surprise of the foreigners.

Jim also recounted discovery of the first ossuary on Cape Cod, over on Indian Neck where homeowners were putting in a cesspool or septic system and called to report bones. The bones, belonging to 70 individuals, were over 1000 years old. There were no laws in 1979 to protect burials, although such a law was passed the following year. “There was a shell midden on top, from the time of European contact,” Jim said. The ossuary proved Native Americans had lived here full-time, that they were not summer visitors, as previously thought. “They had no reason to go anyplace else,” he concluded, since the food was so abundant. (This ossuary was written up in Scientific American in 1986.)

It seems people are finding artifacts all the time in Wellfleet and should be especially careful over near the marsh, where houses are rising on top of potential archeological sites. We even have what I think might be a midden up Old King's Highway.

Jim said he hoped landowners would report any archeological discoveries and added, “It’s a piece of history that isn’t going to come back.”

I took Jim up the road before departure and showed him the midden. Could it have been created by Native Americans? Our guest thought not, as the location is too far from the shore. He guesstimated that the midden dated from colonial times and even pulled a piece of red ware out of the earth as proof. What fun!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bonus Post: Newcomb Hollow, Today

Signs of Spring

The weather was actually warm in Wellfleet yesterday for an hour or two in the early part of the afternoon. Sven installed himself in the hammock to read, while I journeyed down Route 6 for a follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon. We went to the beach on Friday and saw bikers out for the first time in 2011. We have guests here this weekend. Potential guests have spring fever, too. They are emailing like mad. Reservations for summer are going fast. Seagull Cottage is booked from June 5 through August 26. Rooms in the main house are filling up, too. Strangely enough, foreigners have taken the lead, for whatever reason. Perhaps they plan vacations further in advance? Down at the marina, boats have begun to arrive from cold storage or wherever they spend the winter. I saw a five-year-old out with a skateboard at the marina and wondered where his mother was. Our garden has greened up nicely. Daffodils are up, and the forsythia is about to bloom. There is so much to do that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Between the garden, the house, the B&B, fighting NStar, Sven's doctors, my doctors, this blog, my book ... well, there's no time left for the Green Task Force. Something has to give, and I'm realizing organizing workshops, etc. requires a chunk of time I simply do not have. Those are my thoughts on this pretty spring morning ...

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Newcomb Hollow, Today

Friday, April 08, 2011

Another Dinner at PB Makes My (Birth) Day

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! Sven took me out to dinner at PB Boulangerie Bistro. We got there early, before the crowds had arrived. I ordered onion soup and mushroom risotto. Sven chose snails, followed by one of the specials, a lamb shank that was extremely tasty and quite dramatic with its sprig of rosemary. The lamb had been cooking all afternoon. (The French have a verb for this, of course. It is "mijoter" and perfectly describes the method of cooking. The word evokes a marvelous aroma, one which filled Wellfleet's bistro last night.)

Sven and I discussed how successful Boris, Philippe and Valeria, Philippe’s wife, have been with their venture, which opened only last year. We decided the difference was in the details. At one point, Sven had dropped his napkin. When he reached down to pick it up, Sebastien, the "sommelier," swooped in with a clean one. The staff is discreet, efficient, and seem happy to work there. The music, playing in the background, reminded us both of our French travels. The tunes had obviously been chosen with care. Return customers always receive a special greeting from the chef or his wife, as would be the case in any good bistro in France. In fact, a dinner at PB really transports you to France. This restaurant is the perfect antidote to the nostalgia Francophiles may feel between trips abroad.

When we reached dessert, a waitress cranked the “luminaire” and the lights dimmed, then everyone clapped. As I blew out the sparkler/candle on my crème brulée, I felt special, just the way anyone should feel on their birthday.

(While we are on the subject of PB, I wanted to point out their Alsace Wine Dinner, Thursday April 14th at 6 pm. The cocktail reception is followed by Seared Fois Gras, Trout Matelote, Choucroute Garnie, and Apple Strudel. The menu includes four different types of white wine. The whole shebang costs only $85, plus tax and gratuity. This dinner is an event, one not to be missed, for a very modest price considering all the food and wine involved. Reservations are still available …)