Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ilona Shines in 'Advanced Style'

Ilona Royce Smithkin, a Provincetown treasure, appears in Advanced Style, a delightful documentary
about fashion, style and spirit among women who are turning heads even as they are turning older.
Provincetown's own Ilona Royce Smithkin, at the age of 94, charms the audience as she shares the screen with a number of other stunning women of a certain age, each creating their own fabulous look and sense of style, despite their advancing years. This upbeat documentary is the feature film debut of Lina Plioplyte, who one day discovered the blog Advanced Style by fashion enthusiast Ari Seth Cohen, and she became intrigued by the attitudes of the women she found in Cohen's photographs. The film debuted this past September and was screened in PTown several times during Women's Week.
Cohen's blog had taken shape when he began noticing stylishly dressed older women on the streets of New York City, and began photographing their spirited use of colors, hats, shapes and all sorts of accessories, each one creating an absolutely unique style for herself. He wanted to share his photos and show the individuality and self-confidence these women were exhibiting as they dressed exactly as they pleased, regardless of anyone else's opinions, and as he asked permission to take their photos, friendships began to form with a number of these very independent doyennes of style.
One of these women is Ilona, who divides her time between her Provincetown and New York apartments, spending her summers swimming in Provincetown Harbor and enjoying the view and the sea breeze from the balcony of her third floor, water front Commercial Street apartment in the East End, in the heart of Provincetown's Gallery District. Ilona's distinctive paintings and drawings can be found in the Karilon Gallery, at 441 Commercial Street, on her website Ilona and Friends, in the permanent collection of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and in a number of important private collections. Her work has included landscapes, nudes, still lifes, and portraits of Tennessee Williams, Ayn Rand and a host of other famous subjects.
A renowned artist, teacher, and in the last few years, a chanteuse, Ilona now performs in Eyelash Cabaret, the wildly popular annual PAAM fundraiser, sharing the stage with singer, songwriter and "band in a body" musician Zoe Lewis, who met Ilona many years ago, and wrote a song about her unique eyelashes.
Click this link to find "90 Is The New 40," a Huffington Post article on Ilona written by Ari Cohen in 2011, as Ilona was turning 90, and watch the four-minute video you'll find there. If you don't already know Ilona, you'll fall in love with her on the spot. You'll find out the story behind those eyelashes, too. See more of Ilona, and other strong, stylish women, when you watch Advanced Style, streaming on Netflix, and watch for the DVD to be released at a future date.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

PTown Holiday Displays

Provincetown's Christmas Tree made of lobster traps is built around the giant anchor at Lopes Square.

For a number of years now, the Popko family has been building, and lighting, the "Lobster Pot Christmas Tree" in the heart of Provincetown, on Lopes Square. The now-traditional annual lighting of this huge, festive holiday decoration draws more people every year. This "tree" even has its own Facebook page, and you can watch a video on the building and lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree. Related merchandise is available online, such as the Lobster Trap Pillow, as well as a Provincetown Holiday Photo featuring the "tree," and now there's even an illustrated children's book about it available on the Internet. 
This massive work of art is built around the giant anchor that sits in the center of Lopes Square, using 112 lobster traps, 120 red bows and 46 plastic lobsters. The "tree topper" is made from 58 different lobster buoys, each representing a different lobsterman. All of this is illuminated with some 3400 lights, bringing to life this annual holiday tradition and artistic endeavor that celebrates our seafaring heritage while it reminds us all just how unique Provincetown really is.
There are some wonderful lighting displays found around town as well. You'll want to take a spin down Commercial Street, of course, for all the shop decorations and the moving reindeer display at Seamens Bank, and there are some pretty extravagant spectacles of light to be found in yards on a number of side streets, as well. You'll want to visit Standish Street above Bradford Street, for example, with thousands of lights and over a dozen animated characters. Folks on Conwell Street have really gotten into the holiday spirit with their tremendous lighting displays this year, and a trip through the town will show you a number of others.
The weather tonight and over the next couple of days should be fair, warm and not too windy, so get out and enjoy these festive displays. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Holiday Shopping in PTown

Himalayan Handicrafts, a bit off the beaten path, offers lovely handmade items,
as do a number of unique Provincetown workshops, emporiums and boutiques. 
I thought I'd take a quick spin through Provincetown and see how many shops were open for holiday customers, expecting to find a couple of dozen or so. There were 74!
The actual number is probably well over 80, because even as I'm writing this, I can think of a number of others that I hadn't added to the count. For example, I didn't number every shop and artisan's studio in the Whalers Wharf, where you'll find photography, jewelry and all kinds of fetching items handcrafted by local folks, along with a fun assortment of curios, knickknacks and tchotchkes.
There are also many places in town where you can find a lovely gift in a shop that isn't exactly a boutique, like the Provincetown Fudge Factory. Besides their amazing fudge in about a dozen varieties, they also have beautiful handmade chocolates and treats. The Purple Feather comes to mind as well, and what about PAAM? The Provincetown Art Association and Museum has a wonderful array of prints, calendars, books and other things relating to PTown's rich artistic heritage. Great (and certainly unusual) gifts can be found at local thrift stores, like Ruthie's Boutique at 14 Center Street (actually on Bradford Street) or at the Methodist Church on Shank Painter Road, and don't forget all the shops that aren't right on Commercial Street...
A number of Provincetown addresses are confusing, if not downright confounding, like Himalayan Handicrafts, officially listed at 277 Commercial Street, which is one long building on the corner across from Town Hall, stretching all the way down what ought to be called Ryder Street, toward Fisherman's Wharf. Every shop in the building, from the photographer on the corner to the kite shop on the beach, shares that same Commercial Street address. So to find the ever-changing variety of beautiful imported clothing, masks, antiques, musical instruments, jewelry, prayer wells, meditation singing bowls and other treasures at Himalayan Handicrafts, you'll have to walk around the corner, and about halfway down the length of the building, near Cafe Maria, which also shares the address "277 Commercial Street."
The new Artist-Loft, listed at 135 Bradford Street, Unit F, filled with a huge assortment of artist supplies and tools at very reasonable prices, is actually found by walking around the corner, onto Standish Street, and then up the stairs on the far end of the building, to the floor above the dentist's office. Another wacky PTown address.
Just down the street is Recovering Hearts, to feed your more spiritual side, with beautiful gifts, incense, books, art and a lot more, at 4 Standish Street, despite the fact that they share the building with the ice cream shop and the T-shirt store, which each have separate addresses though they are in the same building, while Recovering Hearts shares the 4 Standish Street address with Art's Dune Tours, which is actually found in a separate building up the street, shared with a tiny convenience store. So that pretty much throws all the "rules" about PTown street addresses right out the window.
Anyway, look for terrific shops and boutiques that might be just around any corner, and especially for the ones in little alleyways, or on side streets, footpaths, or boardwalks, or maybe up or down a few stairs, just off Commercial Street. You'll find some wonderful treasures, unusual gifts and holiday delights, along with a number of sales. Be quick, since a few shops do stay open all winter, but many are open just Friday through Sunday at this time of the year. That leaves just enough time for a quick dash around the town to pick up some unique, last minute gifts. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Family Entertainment in PTown

Lewis Carroll's famous tale of a curious young girl called Alice, a Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, a houkah-smoking caterpillar and a waistcoat-wearing rabbit with a pocket watch comes alive on the stage of the Provincetown Theater in Alice in Wonderland, delighting families and audiences of all ages.
The story, adapted for the stage by Bragan Thomas and directed by Provincetown's own Anthony Jackman, follows Alice down the proverbial rabbit hole into a fantastical world of flamboyant characters who are at once outrageous and whimsical, both threatening and enchanting, leading her into a series of adventures becoming "curiouser and curiouser" as Alice chases after that white rabbit.
This terrific play features wonderful local actors, joined by Atte Kekkonen, who has come all the way from Finland to play the part of The Dutchess. Director Anthony Jackman, who's been involved in every aspect of theater production in Provincetown over the last 30 years or so, calls this production "pure community theater at its best." Jackman said "These are local actors, and we've involved as many children as possible. We're teaching children theater as we go."

Kevin Shenk, Paul Halley, Atte Kekkonen, Charlie Roye, Emma Fillion as Alice. Photo by Lynda Sturner.
There's a Sunday matinee today at 3 PM, and another on December 21st as well, with evening performances at 7:30 PM this Thursday through Saturday, the 18th through the 20th of December, 2014. Get tickets online, ranging from $15 (kids) to $25, or at the box office, open from 1 PM till showtime on any show day. A family of at least four people gets a considerable discount, with kids and adults alike admitted for just $12.50 each if you get your family tickets at the box office, at 238 Bradford Street.
Whatever your age might be, pick up your tickets early so you won't miss this great bit of entertainment, and help support family theater in Provincetown.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Outer Cape Chorale 2014 Holiday Season Concerts to be Held Dec 12th thru 14th

The Outer Cape Chorale's 2014 holiday season concert features music from and inspired by Africa.
The Outer Cape Chorale, conducted by Jon Arterton, will perform what I can safely say will be an exciting, amazing holiday concert in Provincetown and Orleans, December 12th through 14th, because this stellar 150 voice choir has never given a performance that wasn't both exciting and amazing! They've tackled musical genres ranging from classical to Broadway, from sacred to singer/songwriter, from Gilbert & Sullivan to the Beatles, and have delighted us at every turn.
Starting out basically as a small choir of friends in 2002, the group has grown to roughly 150 members who travel from all over Cape Cod to sing together and perform to packed houses who eagerly look forward to the Chorale's concerts, performed a few times each year, and tackling a different sort of music with each set of concerts. 
The music, rythms and stories of Africa, accompanied by percussion and keyboards,
will be featured at 7 PM on Friday, December 12th and Saturday, December 13th at Provincetown Town Hall, and at 3 PM on Sunday, December 14th at Nauset Middle School in Orleans. 
Outer Cape Chorale performing at Provincetown Town Hall. Photo by John Gullett, from OCC website.
One of the most remarkable things about these concerts is that each performance is free of charge. To make their music available to absolutely anyone who would like to hear it, the Chorale charges no admission fee, and everyone is welcome to attend. A good will donation will be taken, and part of the proceeds will benefit the Ebola projects of UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.
Make plans to attend at least one of these three performances, guaranteed to fill your heart and feed your soul.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Souper Saturday Benefits SKIP

This beautiful bowl of clam chowder is served at Mac's, and with any luck
we may find it among the choices today at Souper Saturday, at Tin Pan Alley.
One of the great annual events of Holly Folly is Souper Saturday, offering up a huge variety of splendid soups from some of PTown's favorite restaurants.
For a mere five bucks you'll get a terrific bowl of soup, your choice from a number of kettles, with a different variety wheeled out each time one of the choices sells out. So from 11 AM till 4 PM, today only, a bountiful array of bisques, chowders and soups of all kinds will be ladled out for us at Tin Pan Alley, our host for this year's event. They're at 269 Commercial Street, right across from Town Hall, in the heart of Provincetown.
"SKIP" stands for Soup Kitchen In Provincetown, serving delicious, hot, nutritious meals every weekday from November through April, at Provincetown United Methodist Church, 20 Shank Painter Road, from 12:30 to 1:30 PM. People from all walks of life gather to socialize and share a hearty meal, feeling a sense of community in a town where it's easy to feel a bit isolated in the off season. With the vast majority of PTown residents having no opportunity for employment during the winter, many depend on these substantial, tasty meals, and a bit of camaraderie, at the Soup Kitchen. Many folks come just to get out of the house, spend a little time among friends, or meet new people. Everyone is welcome. Volunteers cook and serve around 80 meals on any given day, with the kitchen open regardless of the weather.
Donations of food come from local businesses and individuals, and cash donations are also certainly welcome. The other day a truck from the Lobster Pot rolled up to the church, bringing a load of fresh seafood as they were getting ready to close down the restaurant for the season. So lunch that day was a wonderful soup made with succulent mussels, while shrimp, a few scallops, and a mountain of lobster were all blended with orzo pasta to make a great seafood casserole, served along with veggies and a green salad. Fresh cantaloupe, and a killer blueberry bread pudding, made great desserts.
You can help to support the mission of the Soup Kitchen with a tax-deductible contribution by visiting the SKIP website, and you'll certainly want to make Souper Saturday your destination for lunch today, at Tin Pan Alley. See you there!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Seals Abound in Herring Cove

Dress for a chilly breeze along Herring Cove Beach, where a nice hike might show you seals in the bay.
Race Point Light, and the old lighthouse keeper's cottage, make a great scenic backdrop for your stroll.
I've spent a good bit of time at Herring Cove Beach of late, watching the seals that have been swimming down the shoreline every time I've been there recently. They're tough to get on camera, since they often pop up for just a brief moment to get a breath of air, then dive again, swimming underwater in pursuit of a fat fish or other provender they may find beneath the surface. They may swim just a short distance, or a hundred yards before they bob up for another breath, so it's hard to guess where they'll pop up, and then get the camera zoomed in and focused before they dive again.
That tiny black oval in the center of this photo is the head of a huge seal traversing the length of the beach between Race Point and Wood End lighthouses with a couple of his buddies, who are under water just at this moment. The two companions strolling on the beach haven't seen the seals, but they are likely to spot them when these burly sea mammals surface again and again, looking rather well fed, as they swim toward Wood End on a quest for their supper. Every time I've seen the seals over the last several weeks, they've been swimming in that direction, popping up here and there along the way, sometimes less than 30 feet from shore.
So dress warmly for a walk on the beach, or watch from your car at Herring Cove if the wind chill proves to be too much for comfort. Take your binoculars along with you, and your camera if you're feeling lucky, and behold the seals that seem to be in appreciable abundance as the Provincetown winter draws near.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

PTown Decks the Halls, 2014

Holly Folly, Provincetown's gay and lesbian holiday celebration, is a fun festival for the whole town, with decorations, food, shopping, costumes and a full slate of special events and fundraisers taking place throughout our little village this Friday through Saturday, December 5th through the 7th. Last minute accommodations may be available.
I'll only mention a sampling of these great Holly Folly events in this column, but you'll find the complete Holly Folly schedule listed on the Provincetown Business Guild's website. For example, there will be a number of dance parties at various locations each night, and the annual Snow Ball, Friday night at 10 PM at the A House, will benefit the PBG.
•There'll be a gingerbread house decorating competition, with a $150 gift basket for the winning team.
•There'll be a food fair at Sage Inn, put on by producers of some surprising local specialty foods and treats.
•The Provincetown Art Association and Museum will host an open house with special exhibitions, and will offer small works, along with unusual and creative gifts for the art-lovers in your life.
•The Holly Folly Inn Stroll promises light refreshments and fabulous decorations at more than a dozen inns. One of several free events. Check the schedule for others.
Last year's participants in the first annual Santa Speedo Run. There's still time to register and gather pledges.
•The Santa Speedo Run, a mile along Commercial Street from Fanizzi's to the Crown and Anchor, benefits Cape Cod Firefighters - EMS Cancer Relief Fund. The runners will be treated to a champagne brunch by Barefoot Wines when they reach the Crown. There's still time to Register here and collect your pledges.
•A holiday concert by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus is always a highlight of Holly Folly. Get tickets now, or at the door at Town Hall, 8:30 Saturday night. It's a benefit for the Provincetown AIDS Memorial. A welcome party for the chorus on Friday night at the Shipwreck Lounge offers complimentary snacks.
•Holiday Drag Bingo will be Saturday at 3:30 PM at the Crown and Anchor, and that's bound to be a giggle. Benefits the Cape and Islands division of PFLAG and the PBG.
It's always hard to choose from all those
great soups, so I usually have two.
•The Souper Saturday benefit for Provincetown's excellent soup kitchen will be held at Tin Pan Alley this year, where $5 will buy you a bowl of soup of your choice, provided by a number of great Provincetown restaurants. Last winter, SKIP (Soup Kitchen In Provincetown) provided more than 10,000 meals for PTown and Outer Cape residents, so join us for a bowl (or two) of delicious soup, and get that warm feeling inside as you help out this wonderful nonprofit, and many others, during Holly Folly.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Last Call at the Coffee Pot

The coffee Pot's lobster rolls, hot or cold, are a great value at $13.95!
Tomorrow will be your last chance to gobble up favorite meals at the Coffee Pot, the last hold-out of the great seasonal eateries at Lopes Square, as usual. They'll close their doors for the 2014 season on Monday, December 1st.
I may have to dash over for another 6 ounce hot lobster roll drizzled in butter on a toasted roll for just $13.95, one of the best deals in town. Or maybe one more gyro before they close, or one of their famous paninis, or their fabulous fresh fruit smoothy, which stands among the best in town.
This will likely be my breakfast tomorrow, one last time for the season.
In the summertime I can seldom get away from work for lunch, so the meal I have most often at the Coffee Pot is my breakfast. I'll call ahead so my order is ready when I swoop in and grab up my breakfast sandwich to go, like my favorite eggs and cheese with grilled ham on a toasted roll, or if I'm seriously hungry, I'll order the Rescue Squad, made with three eggs, bacon, double sausage and double cheese on a toasted sub roll. Wow! Fresh baked goods and pastries and a great cup of coffee are found here, too, beginning at 5 AM daily all season long.
I'll likely be there for breakfast tomorrow, for one last visit before they close up until very early spring, when they are always the first to open for the new season, to the delight of hungry Townies and those hardy souls who visit us in that chilly early season.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Champion Clam Digger?

"Carl" the Champion Clam Digger is a mystery man.
I've had the digital image of this vintage Provincetown postcard in my collection for years, and this morning I decided to find out what I could about "Carl" in the image above. I've googled every possible combination of key words I can think up, and I can't find a thing. I also tried the Althea Boxell scrapbooks on the Provincetown History Preservation website, also to no avail.
Clam digging by individuals rather than by seafood companies was common in earlier days, when quahogs, steamers, sea clams and even razor clams were easily dug on nearly any beach in Provincetown. Clams were found in many traditional Portuguese recipes, as well as in the ubiquitous clam chowder, and were often used as fishing bait. They weren't expensive, and many families simply dug their own.
You can still dig your own clams today, at the proper time of year, which is now. Stop by Town Hall and get a recreational shellfishing permit, allowing you to gather clams and oysters, seasonally, once a week, either on Fridays or Sundays. Residents and non-resident property owners are charged $15 for this annual license, while non-residents will pay $50, and seniors age 65 and older pay nothing at all.
You'll need a 10-quart pail, a clam rake (found at the local hardware stores) and a shellfish gauge, which you can pick up at Town Hall when you get your license. They'll also give you a copy of the rules, such as sizes of steamers, quahogs and oysters you can harvest, hence the need for the gauge, which is required for you to set out on the tidal flats. Rubber boots will help keep your feet dry as you slosh through wet sand on your quest for delectable seafood, yours for the digging.
Visit the town's Shellfish Regulations page on their website for more information. Be sure you know the rules, gather your mollusks only in designated areas, and be sure to report your catch to the shellfish constable, who keeps statistics on the town's annual harvest, as you leave the beach. Mussels, by the way, can be taken any time of year and require no permit, along with sea worms and periwinkles.
Meanwhile, who has information on "Carl" in the photo above? Call, text or phone TheYearRounder with any insights. My contact info is near the right corner above.
Happy digging!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve is Provincetown's Annual Pilgrim Monument Lighting

The night before Thanksgiving more than 3,000 lights, strung from the top of the Pilgrim Monument to the ground 250 feet below, will light up this famous Cape Cod landmark for the holiday season, giving the appearance of a sort of gigantic Christmas tree shape that can be spotted all the way across the water from Boston on a good, clear night. Below is a blurb from the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum website inviting us all to join with hundreds of Townies and visitors alike who will enjoy free admission, music and refreshments as we usher in the 2014 holiday season with this annual community event.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Provincetown's Radient Fall Foliage Just Won't Quit

Trees on this tiny dune slowly turn from red to rusty colors.
Autumn colors are still blazing in the bits of forest surrounding Provincetown. The pond at the edge of Provincelands Road catches the reflection of the trees when the wind is low and the water is high, making for a glassy mirror image of the trees now turning brilliant gold and orange colors, with just a few real reds remaining in this gorgeous foliage season. Even though many trees have lost their glorious leaves to the wind, there are still plenty of fronds clinging to their branches as the colors turn predominantly to shades of bronze and russet.
I don't remember a foliage season that has lasted this long, with so many trees keeping their leaves through several subtle changes in their colors. Stroll, bike or drive down to the Far West End and Province Lands Road. Just where the trail leads off to the southern end of Herring Cove Beach, this resplendent sight lies right across the road. I took this photo late yesterday afternoon, as the sun was getting low, and the water was fairly high and calm. Take your camera with you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sun Dog Appears Over Race Point

A sun dog appears in these stacks of thin, wispy, cirrus clouds as the sun descends over Race Point.
A sun dog, sometimes called a mock sun or phantom sun, is an atmospheric event called a parhelion in scientific language. It can give the appearance of a pair of bright spots on either side of the sun, sometimes seen at the left and right edges of a luminous circle, or halo, visible around the sun, with the area inside the halo appearing slightly darker. These halos can appear when flat, hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds are drifting in random orientations, refracting the light and bending the rays that pass through them.
As the crystals sink through the air they become vertically aligned, refracting the light horizontally, which can produce sun dogs, with a reddish color nearest to the sun, and always appearing at the same height above the horizon as the sun, whether or not the complete halo is visible.
This sun dog was seen from the Provincelands Visitor Center, looking out over Race Point as the late-afternoon sun dipped toward the horizon. This phenomenon is easiest to spot when the sun is low in the sky, and it can occur at any time of the year, so if you look out toward Beach Point in the mornings, and Race Point in the afternoons, and if these wisps of thin cirrus clouds are present, you may get lucky and spot a sun dog.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Provincetown's Splendid Foliage Season

Colors are blazing along Provincelands Road.
Provincetown's fall foliage has been slowly turning colors for the past three weeks or so, with oak leaves gradually turning from green to a deep bronze color, while beech leaves turn to gold. Maples turn myriad shades of red, and vines of Virginia creeper wrapped around the trunks of various trees of any variety turn a deep scarlet.
This photo was taken a few days ago along Provincelands Road, near the branch of the bike trail that begins at the far west end of Herring Cove. Foliage colors are spectacular this year because we haven't had too much rain over the last few weeks, nor for most of the summer. That makes for brighter hues as the leaves take on their autumn colors.

Friday, October 10, 2014

PTown's Cranberry Harvest

It takes a while to pick this many wild cranberries, but it's worth the effort.
I've talked to a lot of hikers and foragers this week, and from all accounts, wild cranberries seem to be abundant this year, and are ready to gather from the low-lying spots in the forests, and even in the very low spots in the dunes, where the water tends to pool up after the rainfall. These are the spots where cranberries seem grow the best, completely wild and natural, and they are ours for the taking. An afternoon spent strolling through the forests can lead you to a cache of cranberries to put in your muffins, jellies, chutneys and any number of recipes that can be enhanced with this tart, toothsome and delightful little berry.
In a commercial cranberry bog, things are a bit different from a wild bog. The amount of water in the bogs can be controlled, and at harvest time the bogs are flooded, with the berries floating to the surface. Machinery is used to agitate the water, and more berries break away from the vines and float to the top, where they are scooped up by more machines. Commercial cranberry bogs cover about 13,000 acres of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, producing over 2 million barrels of cranberries in the average autumn season. The more rain we get in the summertime, the bigger the cranberries, which tend to plump up in years with generous rainfall.
The Provincetown Council on Aging is planning a trip to Harwich on Tuesday, October 21st, at 9 AM, to tour a working cranberry bog. This 1 1/2 hour tour will teach us about the cranberry industry and the harvesting process, and includes a ride around the bog with a guide. A special price of $12.50 for the tour has been arranged for COA members, and the group will stop for lunch at the Jail House Tavern in Orleans, where meals start at around $10, before returning to Provincetown. Call the Council on Aging at 508 487-7080 to reserve your trip.
In the meantime, get out for a stroll in the Provincelands, take a bucket with you, and bring home some of these remarkable, tasty little fruits that are native to this beautiful land we live on.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pilgrim Memorial Raises Questions

This stone memorializes Mayflower Pilgrims Dorothy Bradford,
James Chilton, Jasper Moore (should be More) and Edward Thompson.
Provincetown has several cemeteries, the oldest one lying between Winthrop and Court streets, where these two roads meet. Near the center of this old burial ground is a small white picket fence and a memorial to the four Mayflower Pilgrims who died while that famous ship was anchored in Provincetown Harbor during the late autumn of 1620.
The Pilgrims had arrived in the "New World" in November of 1620, anchoring for five weeks in what we now call Provincetown Harbor, after a miserable, stormy 66-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Many of them were quite ill from exposure to the elements and the lack of adequate nutrition during their arduous journey in search of a new land that they could truly call their own. Religious persecution had driven them from their homes in England and Holland, and they were eager to establish a new colony in the Virginia Territory, as the entire east coast of the United States was called at that time.
James Chilton, Jasper More (spelled correctly here) and Edward Thompson had survived the taxing journey among the 102 passengers crowded into the tiny ship, only to succumb to illness once they arrived, while Dorothy Bradford mysteriously drowned in Provincetown Harbor, under circumstances that were more than suspicious. Many over the years have wondered how she could survive the tempestuous journey across the ocean only to slip overboard and drown in calm waters.
One version of the story says that her body was never recovered, and rumors that she was murdered have persisted. She was, according to more rumors, not well liked by her fellow shipmates, having a rather abrasive personality. When I spoke to descendants of hers, they were unable to say exactly what had happened to their ancestor, though they had tried to find out themselves. They told me they had no proof, but thought that she had likely been the victim of foul play. In the family bible, it is recorded that her husband, William Bradford, the leader of the Pilgrims, married Dorothy's younger sister within a couple of weeks of his wife's death. No historic source I've found confirms this, but I'm still looking. And other scandalous stories are connected with this memorial. Stay tuned...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tour the Race Point Lighthouse

In this long-distance view from the Provincelands Visitor Center, Hatch's Harbor
lies between 
the viewer and the Race Point Lighthouse, with the old lighthouse
keeper's cottage to the left, and the old whistle house to the right.
The volunteers that look after the Race Point Lighthouse and the buildings on these grounds will give the public one last tour for the 2014 season tomorrow, Saturday, October 4th, from 10 AM till 2 PM. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle with the proper over-sand permit you can drive out to this spot, or you can walk out either from Herring Cove Beach or from the tiny parking area at the bike trail underpass near the sharp bend on the hill that lies halfway down Provincelands Road.
This free tour will be given by one of some 60 volunteers who look after these grounds in various ways, from planting beach grass to running the tiny gift shop in the old kitchen pantry of the keeper's house. The Race Point Light Station is operated by the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. Sales of souvenirs and T-shirts make up a major part of the funding for the upkeep of this little gem in Provincetown's maritime history, and, of course, contributions of any amount are always welcome as well.
You'll tour the grounds and visit the various buildings, such as the old whistle house, where the steam-generated fog signal sounded constantly in bad weather, saving countless mariners from running aground on the shifting sands just off the shoreline.
The highlight of the tour is climbing up into the lamp room of the Race Point Light, with a panoramic view out over Hatch's Harbor, Cape Cod Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the little dunes and forests that surround Race Point, so be sure to bring your camera.
For more information click on this link to Tours of Race Point Lighthouse, or call Clay Beless at 508 362-9304. For about 12 years he and his wife Nancy have been among the dozens of volunteers who keep up the grounds and look after the upkeep of the Race Point Light along with giving occasional tours and hosting folks who make a reservation to stay in the keepers house or the old whistle house in the summer. Click to find out about Accommodations at Race Point Lighthouse. Reservations for a stay  during the 2015 season can be made online beginning November 1st, with some people reserving just a minute past midnight to be sure to get the room and the dates they want.
In the meantime, get out to Race Point on Saturday for your last chance of the season to tour this remarkable bit of Provincetown's history.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gathering Provincetown's Wild Mushrooms

Some beautiful, big mushrooms await those who pursue them.
Provincetown's annual mushroom harvest is underway out in the Provincelands. I met these folks, who had travelled here from New York just to gather some of the wild mushrooms that can be found in the forests and at the edges of the dunes at this time of year. There were four of them, hiking the hillsides and cutting mushrooms as they found them. Mushrooms need to be cut from the plant at the base of the stem so the root remains in place, allowing it to continue to sprout more mushrooms later on.
Of course, not every mushroom found amongst the trees and shrubs in these sandy little hillsides will be of the edible variety. You must know exactly what you're doing if you intend to pluck this delightful fungus as you hike.
The Twin Eagles Wilderness School has a website to help you identify wild mushrooms. And David Fischer, an expert on the ecology and identification of wild mushrooms, has a wealth of information for you at You'll find all the basics, and some more advanced topics relating to safely gathering these delicious morsels, along with a couple of great videos, although they play some really cheesy new-agey music in the background while you watch a slide show of stunningly beautiful wild mushrooms. This site also offers a number of books on foraging for fungi.
Read my blog post Gather Ye Mushrooms While Ye May, written last autumn when conditions were similar to this year's, about finding these elusive delicacies on the outskirts of Provincetown.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

We Bid Farewell to Sal's Place

Trampolina welcomes guests to one of Sal's lavish opening parties.

Tonight is the last Throwback Thursday at Sal's Place, at 99 Commercial Street, as they wind down the 52-year run of this iconic waterfront Italian restaurant in Provincetown's West End. Sal's will close its doors after one last dinner this Monday night, September 29th.

Alexander and Lora, in a photo from Sal's website.

Sal's Executive Chef Alexander and owner Lora Papetsas have each decided to move on to other pursuits after more than a decade running this waterfront restaurant at the edge of Provincetown Harbor. Patrons have been streaming in for a last meal and to bid farewell to Alexander and Lora, and to all the staff members who have made us all feel so welcome over the years.
Nate and Anthony serving Italian sausages and steak crostini.

The opening parties at Sal's place every spring were legendary, with Townies treated to an endless array of samples from the menu served both in the dining room and out on the deck overlooking Provincetown Harbor.

Sal's Bear Week menu became a favorite with Glenn and John.

Glenn and John, from New Jersey, became repeat customers at Sal's when they discovered it during Bear Week a couple of years ago, when that week's special menu lured them in, and the harbor view at twilight kept them coming back.

Lora's wonderful Chocolate Mousse Pie will be sorely missed.

Get to Sal's for a number of specials during this final week…

•Throwback Thursday - all entrées are $19.62, for the year the restaurant was started by artist Sal Del Deo
•Prix Fixe Sunday - 4 course specials for $35
•Townie Monday - 1/2 price entrées for local residents

And, of course, we've got to have one last slice of Lora's superb Chocolate Mousse Pie as we wish them well, and bid a fond farewell to Sal's Place.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Variety of Herons are Spotted in Provincetown's Wetlands and Ponds

This Yellow-crowned Night Heron made a daylight appearance
 the pond along Provincelands Road.
This year there seem to be several types of herons in the marshes, ponds and wetlands surrounding Provincetown. Although his hairdo seems to fall a bit flat, this fellow appears to be a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, found fishing for his lunch in the salt pond along Provincelands Road. Like the Great Blue Heron, which seems to be the one most often spotted in the Provincelands, this stocky bird stands motionless, waiting for a little fish or a frog to swim by, then pounces on his prey, making it part of his lunch.
This particular bird generally does most of its hunting after dark, but around these parts, feeding time seems to have more to do with the timing of the tides rather than the hour or the daylight. Look for these birds and other herons at about half-tide, as the water in this pond and in the wetlands around it is rising with the tide.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Provincetown's Cranberry Vote of 1773

Cranberries are ripening right now in the low-lying spots in Provincetown's forests and dunes.
Photo by Charles Armstrong, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Cranberries grow very well in the low-lying spots in Provincetown's forested areas, and even in the very low spots out in the dunes, and anywhere the water might pool up a bit after the rainfall. When the ground can't absorb all the water after a rainstorm, which happens in these very low spots where the groundwater is just below the surface, the area can remain under water for a time. As the ground slowly soaks up the water, it's likely, at least for a little while, to stay a little soggy, or spongy, or boggy, if you will, hence the name cranberry bog.
As the ground water recedes, the cranberries can begin to grow, on a sturdy little vine that can produce cranberries for more than 100 years. The berries get their start with a small, pale pink blossom shaped a bit like the head of a crane. The early settlers were calling it crane berry, and that's how the cranberry got its name.
In his 1890 book Provincetown or Odds and Ends From the Tip End, Herman A. Jennings provides us with this historic tidbit he dug up "from old town records," apparently from the 1773 Town Meeting:

I'm not sure what effect the unusually cool, dry weather of this summer might have on the cranberries this year, but you can usually find them getting ripe enough to pick by this time. If you go out to pick cranberries, don't confuse them with bearberry, which looks a little similar, and is harmless in small quantities, but it's not good for humans in large amounts. Here's a link to help you find wild cranberries, from a great blog I found, called The 3 Foragers, written by a family who harvests and eats a good bit of their food from wild sources. And if you go out after cranberries, be sure to watch for the poison ivy that is sometimes found nearby.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Spectacular Provincetown Sky, Opus 3

Sometimes I think I could spend the rest of my time on this planet just watching the colors change in the sky and in the various waters that surround Provincetown
As this rising tide crept into the marsh and stole the golden colors right out of the sky, these little dollops of clouds parted just enough to let a few rays from the setting sun turn this sandy hillside at the edge of the wetlands a little pinkish.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today's Staggeringly High Tide in PTown

Today's high tide reached about 11 feet 4 inches, about 6 inches short of the record. Around 1:30 this afternoon, about 15 minutes before high tide, I spotted this fisherman, who looks as though he's wondering what to do next. He stood there, transfixed, and didn't move all the while I watched him as the choppy water in the west end of the harbor lapped over the breakwater beneath his feet. Walking on this granite jetty in PTown's West End this afternoon was challenging, and probably foolish, with few attempting it until the tide began to recede.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gray Ice Cream? You Bet!

Taste this splendid treat at I Dream of Gelato, inside the
Aquarium Marketplace, at 205-209 Commercial Street.
OK, it might look a little weird, but this little dish of gray ice cream is one of the tastiest things you'll find anywhere in Provincetown.
This is the black sesame gelato found at I Dream of Gelato, at the Aquarium Marketplace. It's among my top favorites of all of the amazing flavors in this little shop that turns out some of the greatest Italian ice cream you'll ever taste.
Gelato is a bit more dense than regular American ice cream, with less air whipped in, so the taste is a little more vibrant, and the flavors here are superb. When I Dream of Gelato opened in 2005 they offered 35 flavors, and now, in their tenth season, they have well over 150 choices, many of them quite exotic, with each one rotating onto the list of daily flavors several times each summer. The black sesame has a rich, almost nutty taste that's hard to resist.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wildlife Abounds in PTown

Wildlife of all kinds treks over the hills of Provincetown. Click on this photo.
The tracks of all kinds of wildlife can be found on the sandy hillsides and dunes around Provincetown. The forest, wetlands and the dunes are home to deer, fox, raccoon, coyote, rabbit, skunk, turtle, opossum, squirrel, chipmunk, meadow vole and hundreds of migrating birds, along with many others. At any time these little hillsides can show us the tracks of all of these, and many more, including the humans walking over the hills and out to the beaches. We should try to disturb as little of this delicate habitat as possible while enjoying our own recreation.
If you go walking out this way, please make sure you are not contributing to the erosion of the dunes by treading on the plant life, which can be very fragile even though it's resilient enough to grow in nothing but sand. And if you can't resist the urge to climb up on top of some of these hills, please be careful about how much sand you dislodge and send rolling down the slope behind you. Please do your part to preserve the fragile environment that surrounds this bit of paradise we call Provincetown. These lovely hummocks get a little smaller with each one of us who clambers up to conquer the hill.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Have We Made It Through Another Provincetown Summer?

In this cooler-than-average summer people still went to the beach to relax and to enjoy the view,
but they sometimes dressed a little warmer, and often brought along an extra blanket or two.
I hesitate to say we've gotten through another summer season here at the tip of Cape Cod, because we've still got a number of visitors in town, many of us haven't yet made the money we need to get through the long winter with no opportunity for employment, and we're only midway through the potential hurricane season…
Despite all that, this is likely to be a summer I'll remember fondly, even though I worked an extra day each week for the same money, had very little time to myself, and came down with a few minor symptoms of Augustitis in the last couple of weeks. I found myself becoming quite cynical, and even a bit short-tempered a few times, so I took two days off (you know, like a person with a normal job in the "other world" would do) and I went to see some art, had a therapeutic glass of wine, and I'm recovering quite nicely, thank you. Yesterday, when every possible thing that could go wrong at work did, and even a couple of things that were impossible also happened (you know how that is, too,) I remained calm and unflappable.
We've had such perfect, mild weather all over the east coast all summer, so people didn't have to escape from unbearable heat and humidity in Boston or New York. I think that has meant fewer daytrippers, or people who might break out of the city in an unplanned visit of a few days when the weather is hot and nasty. We seem to be consistently a few degrees cooler here in the summer than folks are in Boston, for example, and there's always a cool breeze in the evening. With temperatures that didn't get much over the mid seventies this summer, and refreshingly low humidity most of the time, my little attic apartment (with no air conditioning) was pretty habitable shortly after nightfall most nights, instead of at 2 or 3 in the morning like in most hot, humid summers.
The cool weather, and the cool water, may have cut into our normal number of visitors, but cut our risk of hurricanes dramatically, too. The season was also especially short this year, with really chilly, rainy, windy weather several weeks into our normal season, and Labor Day falls on the earliest possible day, shortening the season by yet another week. I think all of this adds up to fewer visitors this year, probably less money, and I'm definitely behind financially, but overall I'm glad to have had this short, mild season, and I'm ready to have no more daily time commitments, to choose how I want to spend each day, and to be blissfully unemployed.
And every year, on the Tuesday morning after Labor Day, if you listen closely you can hear a kind of collective sigh of relief as we all walk out the door in the morning and begin to feel like we're getting our town back.
Maybe soon I'll be the one lying on the edge of the beach in a sweatshirt, and a blanket, watching the tide roll in and out.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

PTown's Best Lobster Roll, Chapter Four

This week's trek takes us to four sit-down restaurants that each serve more of a lobster salad type of roll, a little sloppier, perhaps, than those served with only the barest touch of mayonnaise, and with a bit of celery or other ingredients added. Each also includes an accompaniment, like chips or fries.

Sage's toothsome lobster sliders are perfect for sharing.
The "Lobster Knuckle Slider" at Sage is about 5 chunky ounces of fresh lobster claws and knuckles mixed with a little mayo, a bit of diced red onion and roasted sweet corn kernels, served on a pair of warm sesame-seeded brioche buns that have been basted with a touch of melted butter. These tempting little lobster rolls are served with about a half-dozen or so house made chips, cooked just a bit dark and tasty. This dish sells for $16, which makes it a better bargain than many others, too. I generally like my lobster fairly unadorned, but I  liked this dish quite a bit.
Find Sage tucked away at the end of a little alley that will lead you just a few steps off Commercial Street, at number 336.

Frozen lobster just doesn't float my boat with great fresh lobster available. 
Bayside Betsy's looks out over the harbor at 177 Commercial Street, with new owners since the spring, serving a lobster roll only on their lunch menu, which calls it a "Maine Lobster Roll, simple and delicious."
When I asked the waiter why Maine lobster instead of local lobster, he said it was because Maine lobsters are the best. So I was a bit puzzled when I bit into it and found it was made with frozen lobster. To be fair, I have one friend who actually prefers the texture of frozen lobster over fresh, but that opinion is certainly in the minority around here.
It's made with just a tiny bit of mayo and just a hint of celery, but what puts it in the slightly sloppier "lobster salad" category is the extra moisture inherent in frozen lobster. My waiter told me there were 6 ounces of lobster in this brioche bun lined with lettuce, but having eaten about 40 lobster rolls for this series over the last couple of months, I find I can ballpark it pretty accurately on sight, and this looked light. Thinking that the extra water content might raise the weight a smidgen, I called later to inquire, and was told that "there's 6 to 8 ounces of lobster" in this sandwich. An 8 ounce lobster roll would be double the size of the average lobster roll served in any Provincetown restaurant. Look at the photo and draw your own conclusions...
Their lobster roll is $19.95, served with some very good fries.

Tin Pan Alley's lobster roll makes a nice lunch.
Tin Pan Alley, new this year at 269 Commercial Street, serves a "traditional lobster salad" roll at lunchtime, made with about 5 ounces of fresh local lobster, with a little dollop of mayo, some finely diced celery and a dash of salt and pepper stirred in.
This makes a slightly creamy lobster salad that sits on a bit of chopped iceberg lettuce in a brioche roll that has been toasted over the flame of the grill.
This tasty sandwich is $17, served with your choice of a side salad, some barely salted hand cut fries, or coleslaw, which is not their forte, so stick with the salad or fries. They also serve a Lobster Quesadilla with jack cheese, mango salsa and guacamole for $15.

The Purple Feather's lobster roll is a bargain for lunch or supper. Check hours.
The Purple Feather, at 234 Commercial Street, serves 4 ounces of fresh lobster mixed with finely chopped celery and a minimum of mayo, on a grilled New England style frankfurter roll lined with leafy green lettuce and sliced tomatoes. What makes this roll a little sloppy is probably the juicy tomatoes in the sandwich, and there are extra tomatoes and a couple of pickle chips on the side, along with a small bag of Cape Cod potato chips. At $14.95 this is a bargain, at a better price than many others.

There are still a few lobster rolls in town that I haven't gotten to yet, so there's more to come. Next week we'll be off to the Post Office Cafe, among others. If I haven't mentioned your favorite, let me know where it is, and I'll taste it and feature it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

West End Waters Lure Anglers

These gentlemen are loading up to go after the striped bass.
These two men are getting ready to launch their canoe and get out into the water in the far west end of Provincetown Harbor, down near the breakwater, and with any luck they might bring back a few striped bass. And it may not take much luck, because bluefish and stripers have been found in pretty good numbers recently in many spots off PTown shores.
This particular spot most often has calm waters, so there isn't a great deal of skill or experience required to paddle out and try your hand at fishing, or you can cast a line from the breakwater when the tide is in. You can easily rent a boat or a kayak in many spots in Provincetown, or visit the hardware store or beach shop to pick up a simple rubber raft.
Nelson's Bait and Tackle will rent you rods and reels, which come with bait and lures, or you can buy your equipment if you're ready to really commit yourself, and the experts at Nelson's can give you all kinds of advice on technique, location and equipment to help you get out and land that big striper.
If you're up to some serious hiking and wading, traversing the tidal flats, marshes and tributaries of the outer cape, Nelson's can arrange a trip led by a legendary certified fishing guide like Steve Kean, who spends nearly every waking moment from spring through the autumn fishing somewhere on the outer cape, wherever the fish are biting. And if you're ready for some deep sea fishing, they can arrange a fishing trip for you on Beth Ann Charters, on a 35 foot boat that can take you out after anything from cod to haddock to blue fin tuna.
Nelson's is also a certified weigh-in station for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so you can weigh your catch for official entry into the state's saltwater fishing record books. Don't forget your hat and sunscreen, and get out and go fishing in this gorgeous weather we've been having all summer.

Friday, August 22, 2014

This Year's Carnival Brings "Comic Book Capers" to Provincetown Streets

With a different theme every year, Provincetown's annual week-long Carnival is a summer celebration that brings thousands to town, raises money for a number of local charities, and gives people a chance to transform themselves, to see and be seen, whether they merely don a few strands of beads or dress in elaborate costumes, with some people changing their look for different occasions during the week.
Carnival week in Provincetown brings all kinds of folks out in various sorts of costumes, sometimes adhering to the year's theme, and sometimes just dressing up in whatever they'd like, strutting down Commercial Street and around the town, and attending various events. And, of course, at Drag Bingo, anything goes...

A trio of Little Orphan Annies was spotted having supper at The Canteen,
on Commercial Street. These friends had travelled from three different cities
to spend Carnival week together in PTown.

13 -year-old A J and his family love Provincetown, and came
from Weymouth to kick off our Carnival Week celebration. 

Two men from Montreal were found strutting down Commercial Street,
thoroughly enjoying our week-long series of Carnival events.

Joe and Dennis wouldn't miss coming to Provincetown for Carnival Week.
After 50 years together, they've now gotten married. Read what I wrote
about them two Carnivals ago. I will write an update on their story soon. 

These Gaywatch gals were found in front of Town Hall, complete
with their trademark red swimsuits and lifesaving buoys.

A bevy of beauties in party dresses and swanky evening gowns were
found strolling along Commercial Street, on their way to Drag Bingo. 

I knew someone would dress as Ace and Gary, Robert Smigel's cartoon superhero duo from Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse series of cartoons. Click this link to see The Ambiguously Gay Duo in one of their hilarious cartoon adventures, followed by a live action version with Jon Hamm as Ace and Jimmy Fallon as Gary, with various Comedy Central alums. Above, Captain Awesome follows behind The Ambiguously Gay Duo.