Monday, September 30, 2013

Wildlife Sightings Galore Around PTown

There's an abundance of fox, turkey, heron and other wildlife
this autumn in Provincetown.
Looks like this little fox has a meadow vole (think gray and fuzzy and a bit bigger than a mouse) for an appetizer on this particular afternoon. He's been seen a lot near the Province Lands Visitor Center over the last couple of weeks, usually late in the afternoon when travelers and their dogs have left the area to get to the beach for the sunset. He's sometimes spotted making his rounds around the edges of the parking lot where people have been walking their dogs over the course of the day. He re-marks his territory where the dogs have been, just to make sure everybody knows who's boss around here.
I saw an American gold finch yesterday, a little late in the season for them to still be around. And the herons are here in pretty good numbers this year, by all appearances, seen most often in the marshy wetlands of the Far West End or in the little pond across the road from "the bike rack" where the boys all pile their bikes on the fence on a bright summer day. These stately birds are most often seen standing knee-deep in the water around half-tide, waiting for a little fish or a frog to swim by and become part of their lunch. Turkeys have been seen this week on the edge of route 6 feeding in the grasses anywhere between Shank Painter Road and Snail Road.
Take a moment to enjoy the wildlife that is part of the natural world that makes Provincetown such a unique environment.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tennessee Williams Fans Converge on PTown for Annual Four-day Festival

Four days of events in Provincetown celebrate the life and works of Tennessee Williams.
Provincetown's annual Tennessee Williams Theater Festival gets under way today, launching four days of events ranging from discussions for those who may not be as familiar with the life and work of Williams as they'd like to be, to a southern barbecue and whiskey evening, to the world premier of a play written by young Tom Williams before he adopted the monicker "Tennessee."
Williams grew up in the Delta, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, where soulful blues music poured out of "juke joints" where people flocked to dance, drink, and to forget their troubles. Award winning blues piano and vocal artist Eden Brent has travelled to PTown from Mississippee to help transform the Surf Club into a juke joint for a few hours on Friday and Saturday night. There are many plays, events and parties scheduled during the festival to immerse us in the works, the history and the culture of one of our greatest American playwrights, and a frequent visitor to Provincetown over many of the summers during the 1940s.
Find information on the festival at and check out the many events scheduled daily beginning at 10:30 AM and running some nights through midnight. Find descriptions of the various scheduled events of the TW festival, and the many plays being produced, each with several performances between now and Sunday night. Plays range from the well-known Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  to some that are rarely seen. Slapstick Tragedy: The Mutilated is a highly anticipated event with five performances during the festival. This seldom-seen production will feature performances by cult film legend Mink Stole, gaining fame in John Waters films ranging from Desperate Living to Serial Mom, and Penny Arcade, who blossomed as a superstar at a tender age, during her teen years spent in Andy Warhol's Factory.
To make a contribution toward running this wonderful yearly Provincetown gathering of Tennessee Williams enthusiasts, or to volunteer to help make it all happen (and get some great volunteer perks) or to get information on all the events scheduled over the next few days, you can drop by the old firehouse at 246 Commercial Street, just west of Town Hall.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get it While You Can...

As the little casual dining spots in Provincetown get ready to shut down for the season, I'm making the rounds to enjoy some of the great food and bargain prices that we'll miss over the winter...

Mojo's grilled swordfish platter with mixed vegetables, salad and their signature round fries. Mojo's has a HUGE menu with some of the best prices in town.

The Red Shack lobster mac & cheese became a new favorite when I tasted it this summer. I'll miss their gyro, pastrami, sausage and peppers, and their giant breakfast wrap with a whole meal rolled inside.

Provincetown Portuguese Bakery has the best fried dough in town, hands down. Breakfast and lunch from their grill are bargains, as are dozens of sweet or savory pastries and traditional Portuguese treats.

John's Footlong fish sandwich is among the best in town, along with their fried clams, kale soup, scallop roll and oooohh, the lobster roll. And don't forget the footlong hot dog in a grilled bun.

Lewis Brothers Ice Cream is the last real, homemade American ice cream in Provincetown, despite the "homemade" signs you might see in other windows. It's not. The brothers make it right there in their shop, churning out several flavors every day. I love their small sundae. I'm not sure I could finish the big one.

Native Cape Cod Seafood is one of the spots I miss most over the winter. Everything they make is absolutely fresh, delicious and reasonably priced. You could throw a dart and be happy with anything on the menu. I order an ear of corn with my linguine and clams. And the lobster scampi rivals any in town, at a great price.

Blondie's portobello mushroom burger comes with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and feta cheese, and it's one of my favorite vegetarian meals in Provincetown.

Uma Loucura brought Brazilian flavors to town this summer with daily specials like Bobo De Camarao, made with yucca, peppers, fresh tomato, coconut milk and a mountain of shrimp. Everything is made from scratch, and I loved everything I tasted there.

The Canteen brought great seafood, sandwiches, homemade linguica and a variety of ethnic flavors to Provincetown this summer. Their homemade sodas, and the return of Pucci Wings, were highlights of my summer. I'm jonesing for them already.

I Dream of Gelato makes more than 200 flavors of the best homemade gelato (the Italian version of ice cream) you're ever likely to taste, from simple fruit flavors to gourmet delights. My very favorites are the pineapple basil and the black sesame.

The Coffee Pot has a line of people every morning getting their coffee, fresh baked goods and an array of great breakfast sandwiches. When I'm really famished I'll order the Rescue Squad, with three eggs, three slices of bacon, two sausage patties and double cheese on a sub roll.

ScottCakes are the best cupcakes in the world, period. This fluffy vanilla cupcake topped with that distinctive swirl of pink buttercream frosting is one of the greatest sweet treats ever invented.

Get out and enjoy some of these great PTown eats before these little joints fold up for the season.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

PTown Indian Summer

Most folks on Provincetown's breakwater this afternoon are fishing as kayakers revel in Indian summer weather.
OK, true "Indian summer" weather usually means the return of summer weather after a killing frost, and we haven't had one of those yet, but I'm going to count it, especially after the overnight low temperature was a chilling 39 degrees two nights in a row last week. I don't know a better way to describe these absolutely gorgeous days we've been having. Get out and enjoy this beautiful weather today, because this may be the last of it, with a pretty good chance of rain tomorrow and daily highs dipping down into the 60s next week. That'll make it more like fishing weather than kayaking weather, but still lovely for hiking, biking and many of the outdoor activities that make Provincetown such a remarkable spot.

Monday, September 16, 2013

More Public Art Appears Near PTown's West End Breakwater

A five-foot-wide sand sculpture appeared next to the breakwater Sunday morning.
Someone created a sand sculpture just to the right of the breakwater in the west end of Provincetown harbor this morning. This photo was taken about two hours before low tide. I wonder if the sculptor continued to work on it after this point? It looks like a mound of sand with a depth of a couple of inches scraped away from the edge in concentric circles, just where the receding water forms a wider circle every 20 minutes or so. But there's a concave wedge carved out of the left end, too. It gives me ideas about ways to use the receding tide to create shapes in the sand. I hope this fleeting piece of public art will inspire others to experiment and create as well.
This bit of art is about 30 yards from environmental artist Roy Staab's reed sculpture on the tidal flats exposed on the right side of the breakwater at low tide. Click the link above to see the photo and read a bit about him in my August 20th post. It's remarkable.
Thanks to all the folks who create something where the public can see it. Watch for upcoming posts about the tremendous variety of public art found in Provincetown, from the Scott Dosch mural in the Whalers Wharf rotunda to Jackson Lambert's "cat crossing" signs on Freeman Street.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Afterglow Festival Lights Up PTown

This week in Provincetown we've been treated to live stage performances of spoken word, music, comedy and any other form of live performance you can imagine, and things you would never imagine, each as a part of the third annual Afterglow festival. The brainchild of John Cameron Mitchell and Quinn Cox, this non-profit organization and festival was created to provide a place for established as well as emerging performance artists of every sort to express themselves, while leading Provincetown back to its roots and its pivotal role in creating and nurturing the Modern American Theater movement, and re-establishing a place for performing artists to break new ground.
Remaining performances include Jill Pangallo, who's been called ", funny, highly original and kinda creepy." She takes the stage tonight at the Crown & Anchor at 10 PM. Click on the following link to read more about her and to watch a teaser of tonight's performance piece, Unfollow.
Sunday at 5 PM the Crown hosts international cultural icon Penny Arcade, who has cemented her reputation as a poet, essayist, actress and cultural critic with strong feminist and queer sensibilities, a tireless devotion to free speech and human rights,
and an irresistible stage presence.
At 7 PM Sunday see Lance Horne and Guests. Horne is a renowned performer-lyricist-composer who has performed with, composed and/or arranged music for stars ranging from Alan Cumming to Sandra Bernhard to the Seoul Philharmonic. He's appeared with the London Gay Men's Chorus, Dwight Yokum, and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He has performed everywhere from Buckingham Palace to Carnegie Hall to the Apollo Theater. This promises to be a wonderfully diverse musical program.
Sunday at 9 PM the famous Mattachine dance party comes to PTown. The nation's first gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, staged the 1966 "sip-in" at Julius' Bar in New York City, where members gathered peacefully, announced they were gay, and demanded to be served drinks, despite the law that proclaimed that alcohol would not be served to known homosexuals.
Some five years ago John Cameron Mitchell and PJ De Boy started the monthly tradition that celebrates the history of queer pioneers, bringing a recurring dance party to the West Village on one Thursday night of every month to revive Julius' Bar, one of the oldest in the city. Folks generally dress up for a night of dancing to every conceivable style of music, and "the carefully curated songs of queer yesteryear."
Support alternative entertainment and the revival of progressive theater in Provincetown with a contribution to this not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization, or by attending performances. Tickets for all events can be had with a visit to the Crown & Anchor box office, at 247 Commercial Street.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's New? Hawaiian Breakfast Sandwich at the Coffee Pot

The Hawaiian breakfast sandwich is a new Coffee Pot choice to start your day.
Leave it to the folks at the Coffee Pot to come up with a breakfast sandwich like the Hawaiian: it's spam, pineapple cheddar cheese and egg on toasted Portuguese sweet bread, and it's not bad. Linda told me her son-in-law came up with the combination. It tasted good, and everyone who tried it liked it, so it went on the menu.
Try the new peanut butter hot chocolate as the mornings get cooler.
Have it with a cup of their new peanut butter hot chocolate, topped with a little whipped cream. Really decadent, but really tasty. Try it. You'll find the Coffee Pot on Lopes Square, across from the Chamber of Commerce.
Linda and Nelson and the gang at the Coffee Pot celebrate their 20th anniversary this summer. There are a gazillion things on the menu for breakfast and lunch, even for supper, and fresh baked muffins, croissants, cookies, brownies, bagels and other tasty things come out of their oven each morning. They make all kinds of coffee, and one of the best smoothies in town, with real fruit, and there's always something new coming out of the kitchen. Stop by to wish them a happy anniversary, and try something you've never tasted before. Call ahead at 508 487-2580 and they'll have it ready for you.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Big Fish at the Breakwater

There's a beautiful, big fish in that bucket.
Seen today as an exceptionally high tide rolled in at the breakwater in Provincetown's Far West End, this man was fishing in the first 15 feet of water to the left of the breakwater, right  next to the shoreline, which I thought made no sense, but notice the tail of the fish sticking up out of his bucket! This fish was about 30 inches long, still kicking, as the woman plopped it headfirst into the bucket. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough to capture the photo of this beautiful fish as she held it up. It was at least two-and-a-half feet, maybe a little longer, and looked to be a nice, sleek, striped bass, the prize fish of these waters.
You can try your hand at fishing by picking up a rod and lures at either of the local hardware stores or at Nelson's Bait and Tackle on Race Point Road, and stroll out onto the breakwater yourself, or you can fish along the beach at Herring Cove. Remember to get your fishing permit, which you can do online at the public library by googling "Mass recreational saltwater fishing permit" (and print it out there as well) for about $12 total, charged to a credit card. Or get your permit right now if you're reading this from a computer that's hooked to a printer by clicking this link to get your saltwater fishing permit. If you're over the age of 60 it's free, though they zing you a couple of bucks for the processing fee if you get it over the Internet, and if you're under the age of 16 you don't need the permit at all. If you're going out on a fishing charter you've hired, their permit covers you at no cost. Get out for a little fishing in this beautiful weather we're having.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Life! The Celebration and the Swim, 2013

This weekend offers a lot of events, starting tonight at 8 PM at the U U Meeting House, found at 236 Commercial Street, with the 20th annual Celebration of Life. This free community concert is the brainchild of local musician, composer and community activist John Thomas, who produces this annual musical celebration in conjunction with the Provincetown Harbor Swim for Life and Paddler Flotilla, which is described below.
This is always a highly anticipated concert, the feel-good event of the tear, with performances by talented local residents, celebrities performing in town over the summer, and always a few surprise guests. It is a life affirming event which raises the collective spirit of the entire audience while it honors those no longer with us.
This year’s performers include Jon Arterton, Peter Donnelly, Will Harrington, Billy Hough, Halcyone Hurst, Roxanne Layton, Zoë Lewis, Ken Lonergan, James Mack, Phoebe Otis, Elena Mancheva, Miss Richfield 1981 Scarbie, Sylvie Richard, John Thomas, Nedko Zdravkov Valchev, Janet Villas, West End Wendy Wendell and other surprises.
The 26th annual Swim for Life follows tomorrow morning, Saturday, September 7th, with hundreds of swimmers, along with kayakers and standup paddleboarders, making their way across magnificent Provincetown harbor, setting out from the Long Point Lighthouse, at the very tip of Cape Cod. This is an open-water swim of about a mile-and-a-half, finishing on the beach at the Boatslip Resort. Swimmers unable to conquer their fear of deep water, or those with other limitations, will be swimming in pools, making laps to equal the distance across the harbor. Teams of swimmers from Wellesley High School and from swim clubs in Philadelphia and Chicago, among others, travel to Provincetown to join in this event. Swimmers in other cities, and even in other countries, will participate in their own events.
Last year's event saw some 400 swimmers raise over $200,000 for local healthcare and other nonprofit organizations, lifting the total to about $3 million in contributions to local charities and nonprofits over the years. It's not too late to decide to swim. Registration will be Saturday from 9 AM to 10 AM at the Boatslip Resort, 161 Commercial Street.
Join us tonight at the Celebration of Life, and tomorrow morning at the Boatslip, to cheer on the swimmers, and at the Mermaid Brunch, which follows the swim, catered by Far Land Provisions. The brunch will feature awards for swimmers in many categories, along with up-beat entertainment, and caps off this wonderful, affirming, two-day celebration. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pick Your Own Beach Plums

 For the last week or two people have been wandering the edges of the dunes carrying bags and baskets, picking beach plums as they find them ripe and ready to eat, leaving behind fruit that is not yet at its peak.
In a few more days, when those little plums are finally ripe, someone else coming along will pick them.

These little one-inch plums are delicious on their own, and they also make a great jam or jelly.
You might also find them at the farmer's market near Town Hall on Saturdays. Birdsong Farm in Dennis grows them, and there may be others nearby as well. Beach plums are becoming a popular addition to the orchards of small farms. They thrive in the poorest of soils, surviving drought and the harshest winter weather.

This woman was gathering beach plums near the Provincelands Visitor Center last week. Generally, picking anything in a national park is prohibited, but when the Town of Provincetown turned over roughly 4,000 acres of land, sand dunes, ponds and wildlife to the National Park Service in the 1960s, we insisted on continued traditional uses of the land. One of those uses was berry picking. So at the right time of year blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, beach plums and  others can be gathered on these national park lands. I've never run across the strawberries, myself, but two friends have each found them, and I've tasted all but those elusive strawberries.
In a couple of spots in the dunes you can even find high bush blueberries, growing on what amounts to a scraggly sort of tree about eight feet tall. Delicious! Just make sure you know what you're picking. There are a lot of blue berries in the forests and the dunes, but they aren't all blueberries. If you're not sure about what might be edible, just admire the lovely plant and walk on by. Not all the berries and fruits you'll find are safe to eat. And for mushrooms, you'll want to go with someone who has really studied the varieties you'll find out in the park. Many are poisonous.
The beach plums are pretty easy to identify. Nothing else out there looks quite the same. If you go out in search of beach plums this week remember to be kind to the land and to your fellow humans. Make sure you don't trample any plants or ground cover as you walk through the forests or dunes, and don't snatch up every bit of fruit you come across. Food gathering etiquette demands that we each pick just enough for our own use, and maybe a few to share with friends, but leave enough for other folks to do the same.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Mellow Labor Day in Provinceown

This morning on Commercial Street, and throughout the town, from the breakwater in the West End to the Truro border, a collective sigh of relief was heard. The morning after Labor Day just feels different somehow from the day before. We've made it through the most intense part of the summer season. We all still have to go to work, and there are still people asking for directions and where they can get some seafood and why we don't just close Commercial Street, but it feels a bit mellower, less strained, a little less annoying...
The three-day Labor Day weekend was a little quieter than usual, with not nearly the usual number of visitors, partly because of dire predictions of terrible weather, but, as usual, the weather wasn't nearly as bad as the sinister forecasters predicted. And the folks who did join us all seemed to have a good time.

The White Party is an annual Labor Day tradition, drawing big crowds to the West End on Saturday afternoon.

It rained a bit for part of the day on Sunday, but folks took it in stride. Commercial Street was filled with umbrellas as people went about the business of having a good time.

A group of 10 or 12 friends strolled the length of Commercial Street in the rain, making their way over the hill and down to the Red Inn for Sunday Brunch.

Monday brought a sizeable group of revelers to the White Wind Inn for the Pink Party, celebrating the official end of the summer season on Labor Day.

Though perhaps less well-attended than other Labor Day weekends, this one seemed quite successful, with a fairly mellow crowd determined to enjoy themselves. And so ends another Provincetown summer season, with a smile.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Baby Seal Sunning on Breakwater Beach

Judging from the shape of its nose, this may be a young gray seal,
seen recently at the Provincetown Inn/breakwater beach.
This baby seal was seen on the little strip of beach to the left of the breakwater in the Far West End, near the Provincetown Inn. This youngster is likely a gray seal, which may reach a length of 7 or 8 feet and a weight of less than 600 to more than 900 pounds, depending on whether it's a male or a female. Gray seals are quite common in this area, and are often the variety found hauled out together in groups on quiet beaches.
Provincetown is home to an incredible variety of wildlife on the land, in the sea and in the air, as well. There are often red-tailed hawks soaring over the visitor center near Race Point beach, looking for their lunch, gliding on the wind with a keen eye trained on mice and meadow voles and other tiny critters scurrying along the edges of the dunes.
We also have a great number of creatures who visit us seasonally, as the weather changes. The Great Blue Heron is back for the change from the warm summer days to the cooler afternoons as we get into the autumn season.
Keep an eye out for wildlife as the season changes, and if you get a great photo or two, I'd love to post them here for everyone to enjoy. I'm going to start including photos of wildlife I've come across, and a little tidbit or two about each animal. I'd be glad to include your photos, too.