We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
We showed our dear friends around the Outer Cape (aka Lower Cape) last weekend, and I hope they got a sense of why it is enchanting to some of us. (They had a chance to look up some dead ancestors too.) We walked quite a bit, tooks lots of snaps, consumed quite a bit of seafood, ran into some interesting and friendly folks.
The terms "Upper" and "Lower" as applied to the Cape have nothing to do with north and south. Instead, they derive from maritime convention at the time when the principal means of transportation involved watercraft, and the prevailing westerly winds meant that a boat with sails traveling northeast in Cape Cod Bay would have the wind at its back and thus be going downwind, while a craft sailing southwest would be going against the wind, or upwind. Similarly, on nearby Martha's Vineyard, "Up Island" still is the western section and "Down Island" is to the east, and in Maine, "Down East" is similarly defined by the winds and currents.
Over time, the reasons for the traditional nomenclature became unfamiliar and their meaning obscure. Late in the 1900s, new arrivals began calling towns from Eastham to Provincetown the "Outer Cape", yet another geographic descriptor which is still in use, as is the "Inner Cape."
Anyway, as I was saying, we love it because it is simple, a little bit wild and woolly, small-"d" democratic, and without pretension, fashion, or name-droppability. Even the wealth up there on the Outer Cape quietly adheres to the Yankee Code (and when they do not, they catch hell).
Lots of pics with commentary below the fold -
I tend to turn out to have something in common with most of the folks I meet up there, if it is only having that Cape brine bred in the blood. The water (ocean, ponds, harbor, Bay) is chilly enough to deter many non-Yankees. Good, modest people seem to like the Outer Cape. It's the wrong place for social climbers, and a good place to be anonymous.
There is stuff to do outdoors all the time, and it gets quite pleasantly cool at night thanks to being out in the Atlantic Ocean. You can light up the fireplace on August nights. If you get bored (which seems impossible to me), you can hop up to P'town for some Portuguese seafood, inspect the fishing boats, and enjoy the free circus of tourist crowds, Portuguese fishermen, transvestites and other unidentifiables, and the gay exhibitionistic gays (the lesbians all look kinda sour and cranky, but I figger that must be some tough lesbian affectation or whatever).
The Cape Cod National Seashore (which is on my short list of the good things government has made happen) has happily protected much of the landscape from development. Cape Cod is one of the only places I have seen where roads have signs saying "Slow. Turtles crossing." (They mean my cheerful friends, the Box Turtles. The Cape is the northernmost edge of their range, but they like it there.)
Pre-breakfast walk with friends, at low tide (we had 12' tides, which is a serious tidal flow):
My pal fiddling with his camera as usual in the morning at the outlet of the Herring River, the presumed but theoretical source of the sweetness of the famous Wellfleet Oyster:
Our friends seemed surprised that every restaurant has a full-time littleneck and oyster shucker. Yep, they sure do. The 1-day fresh edible mollusks are part of the reason to go there. Sweet as fruit and salty as the sea. I usually have 6 local oysters and 6 local Littlenecks because I cannot make up my mind.
I kick myself each time I drive past this antique Cape. In 1982 it was for sale for around $125,000, as I recall, or maybe $225, with seven acres on the water (the harbor). We had recently bought a house and produced an heir, and the price tag seemed overwhelming. Plus we would have had to borrow the down-payment. I do recall calculating the rental income it might bring.
Last time I saw it listed for sale they were asking $2.4 million - after the owners had sold off a building lot. Now it is definitely out of my reach.
It might be sour grapes to tell myself that ownership ain't all it's cracked up to be. Plus we always have the farm to worry about. Memo to self: Never again buy a house with paint on the outside. Cedar shakes are great things: they look homey and can save you a heck of a lot of money over the years.
BD, lovely. Why is it though that Orleans and Brewster and sometimes Chatham get lumped into the Lower Cape (but never the Outer Cape)?
My late father was ten years ahead of you, and let some great properties slip away in the Seventies. Finally he swallowed hard and bought bayfront land, and very frugally built a small summer home, but not before the hectoring busybodies drove up the costs and dragged out the construction. Now our family's little place is surrounded by CEOs and bankers who did teardowns and put up some big and sometimes showy places.
The passage of years and wear and tear of the Cape's elements meant a big investment a few years back to restore and improve the cottage. It's a constant struggle to upkeep and maintain from off-Cape, but Mother is still alive to enjoy it with us, and we're glad we can somehow manage to keep it going, our own little piece of paradise. Although off our own property lines it seems everything is expressly forbidden, there's a Town ordinance you know, plus the dog-hating busybodies.
I suspect your friends will develop the itch, even if they try to resist.
My wife is a little blueblooded, being able to trace her lineage to the Wing Family of America, which has their home on the Cape. We went there on our honeymoon to a big Wing Family reunion. Despite not really knowing them, they treated us very well and we had a great time on the Cape.