Three years ago we sold our house in New York. As the end of summer approached and the foreboding feeling of leaving the Cape crept into our psyches, we decided before we moved to Connecticut how great it would be to stay in the Summer House until then.
At first it seemed like a far-fetched idea as our work was in New York City. For me, it would be fine. I worked from home and had to make a few trips a month. My husband, on the other hand, commuted three days a week. It also meant enrolling our daughter in the Falmouth schools for 7th grade. We decided to go for it and make it work! So began our “year on the beach,” as we like to call it.
It was exciting watching Labor Day come, knowing we were not leaving.
Normally I would be cleaning and winterizing the Summer House and packing the cars.
I watched my neighbors slowly backing out of their driveways, forlornly saying goodbye to summer as they reluctantly drove by the beach with a farewell wave.
Every summer since I can remember, my family would pack the big station wagon to the brim as we would leave to start school the day after Labor Day. I would cry leaving and would inevitably find sand falling out of my suitcase from my sweatshirt when I reached home and cry some more.
That year I rejoiced not having to leave! It was a magical year for us, discovering so much that makes the offseason so special. Autumn on the Cape is an extension of summer without the traffic and crowds.
Everything slows down and the Cape and islands all begin to exhale. Beaches are serene with the gentle off-shore breezes. The midday sun is warm and welcoming. Driving down Cape we can now enjoy all the quaint towns up Route 6 we never have time to visit during the summer.
There are many fall festivals: The Wellfleet Oyster Festival, Cape Cod Brewfest, Bourne Farm Pumpkin Day, and in October is the cranberry harvest, which is fun to watch on a brisk fall day.
We don’t mind in the summer that the house is drafty. As we started to settle into the winter there that year, I had to put up drapes to help keep the cold out. My antique wooden armoire, which housed our beach towels and bathing suits in the summer, now was filled with mittens, scarves and hats!
The wind would howl many nights. Winter’s first snow swirled outside and walking to the beach the snow delicately covered the sand. The snow squalls hid the Vineyard on those winter days and the stillness was so peaceful that the only sound was the bell buoy off the harbor.
That Christmas I did an “ocean” tree. I did all blue and silver ornaments. Instead of tinsel I made garlands from shells collected at the beach. And on the top we put a beautiful mermaid.
The holidays are so special on the Cape, I encourage all who have never spent the holidays here to do so. The Falmouth Green is illuminated by the lights of the big Christmas tree and many holiday decorations that light up all the children’s faces. The Museums on the Green in Falmouth as well as Highfield Hall have special events planned. The holiday spirit of goodwill is everywhere, all over the Cape. We welcomed New Year’s that year at Chatham’s First Night! The fireworks lit up the sky welcoming the New Year!
As the winter snow began to melt, we saw the first crocuses start to bloom, and we knew spring was here.
Fresh River thaws, and the geese and ducks are a welcome sight. The grass becomes a luscious shade of green and before long it will be time to mow. As the early flowers begin to bloom, it’s time to take a bike ride to Spohr Garden to see the hundreds of daffodils in bloom.
Our year at the beach came to an end. School let out, and we moved into our Connecticut home. Forever grateful for our year at the beach, being at the Summer House and experiencing all the joy that each season has to offer was a blessing. Those winter days as the fire roared, looking out at light falling snow and the stillness of the Cape was a gift…We now keep the house open so when time allows, we can get there all year long.
Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong and laughter never ends.