Thursday, January 29, 2015

Provincetown Digs Out After Historic Blizzard of 2015

Cape Cod took a real pounding by the tremendous "winter hurricane" that swept the New England
shoreline. This Wellfleet photo by Eric Williams, Cape Cod Times, depicts a "mother-in-law rescue."
It tells the story of towns all over the cape, dealing with extreme drifts, and mounds of plowed snow.
With the tremendous drifts of four and five feet and more around town, it's pretty hard to say how much snow we really got. The Ice House condos, on the edge of the harbor, at Howland Street, had no snow at all in their parking lot, with the crushed shell surface clearly visible. That's because all the snow blew up onto the patios and formed chest-high drifts, while the same thing inexplicably happened on the street side of the building as well, leaving residents unable to open the front or back doors to the building. They had to wait for someone to come and shovel them out, as did thousands cape wide.
In the meantime, they were waiting for the power to come back on, along with about 97% of Provincetown residents whose electricity had gone out during the storm. Nantucket also lost power all across the island, and outages were reported in other towns as well. Provincetown's power began coming back on within about 11 hours, and most of the town's electricity seemed to have been restored relatively quickly, given the severe winds of this very powerful storm, which may turn out to be one for the books.
I've been all over the internet trying to find an exact snow total for Provincetown in the "Blizzard of 2015," but "total unavailable" is all I can find. We do know that snowfall from this fierce storm broke a record or two in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with Worcester reaching its all-time deepest at 34.5 inches, although Auburn beat them with a depth of 36 inches, which was less than a record for them.
Blowing and drifting snows in the coastal areas are much harder to measure than depths in towns farther inland. Most people in Provincetown seem to be estimating up to two feet or so, which was the official overall total registered on most of Cape Cod. The devil is in the tremendous drifts whipped up by winds that officially gusted to 69 miles per hour here at the Cape's tip. I spoke to a dispatcher at the Provincetown Police Department who gave the opinion of a foot-and-a-half, but even at that, many of us are still digging out through several feet of drifted snow.

Elsewhere around the state…
• The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth ceased operations when their main transmission lines went out, with no damage to the facility, so safety wasn't an issue.
• At least two "blizzard babies" were born during the storm. One was in Loeminster, where State Police rescued a woman whose car had become disabled just as she went into labor. The other was a baby born under lights powered by generators when power went out at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, as it did all over the island.
• Scituate, on the shoreline between Plymouth and Boston, suffered severe flooding, as evidenced by an 80 foot section of seawall that washed away during the storm, and photos of countless cars under water there.

Please be careful, and pace yourself if you're shoveling out, which is a very strenuous activity. If you are not able to do your own shoveling, don't be afraid to call a neighbor for help. And if you've shoveled your own walk, you might continue a bit farther, and help out someone not as hardy. That's what life in Provincetown is all about.
Be sure to shovel snow away from your tail pipe if you are digging out your car, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when you fire it up. Exhaust vents from your home heating system may need to be dug out as well, for the same reason. And if you live near a fire hydrant, and are able, please shovel out the hydrant.
It will likely take a few days to plow all the streets, and police are asking folks who don't need to be outside to stay indoors, so town crews and others can plow streets and lots more easily and safely. If you are still without power or have another serious situation, you can call the Provincetown Police Department for help or advice.
If you have a story to tell about your blizzard experience, click the comments link at the bottom of this article to share your tale, or e-mail with stories and photos from the storm, and I'll happily post them.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Brings PTown Lunch Specials

"Bubbles" fish fry is likely to sell out, so get there early.
"Bubbles" fish fry is the lunch special served every Friday of the winter at the Governor Bradford. It's quite a generous serving of fish, with lemon, tartar sauce,
a little coleslaw and very good fries, and it comes with a soft drink. This lunch will set you back a mere $7.50, just like all their lunch specials, offered Monday through Friday all winter long.
You'll want to get there early for the fish fry, or on days when some of the other Townie Favorites are on the menu, which changes frequently, except for Fridays. That's always fish fry day, routinely selling out, as do some of the others. When I called recently to see what that day's lunch special was, the roast pork had already sold out, which was even more disappointing for me since it's one of my favorites, and I haven't seen it roll around on the menu for a while.
Look for the sign in the window for the weekly menu, which changes often. It recently included a Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich on a Monday, and their meatloaf with potatoes and vegetables on Thursday that week. Last week they offered a chicken enchilada, and their lasagna is always very popular. But even when the special has sold out, their regular lunch menu is still being served. They make a decent burger, for example, always cooked just the way I ordered it, and again, the fries are very good.
So watch the sign for changing daily specials and see what strikes you, or go early for the fish on a Friday for a great lunch bargain. The Governor Bradford is open for lunch year-round, found at the corner of Commercial and Standish Streets.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

1940 Provincetown Chamber of Commerce Brochure

Provincetown Chamber of
Commerce pamphlet, c. 1940
Provincetown has had more than 15 Town Criers in all, beginning at least by 1854, with some of them "crying" the news of the day for 20 years or more. This brochure showing a town crier in action was a promotion put out by the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce around 75 years ago. The fellow on this brochure, in his "colonial" costume, looks like Frank Andrews, a well-known and experienced actor who lasted only one season in the job, that being the summer of 1940. That is most likely the year this bit of advertising was published.
Besides luring visitors to meet our Town Crier, this folksy pamphlet featured a brief story about the oldest house in town. It also had a page advertising food and lodging at the Provincetown Inn, as well as one promoting sailing on The Boston Belle, a luxury liner with deck chairs, and room for some 3,000 passengers, with daily voyages to Provincetown in the summertime.
The early "criers" strolled along Provincetown's streets ringing a handheld bell, proclaiming the news of the day and announcing upcoming events. They all wore clothing of their day as well, rather than the "pilgrim" garb shown here. (You know, the pilgrims didn't actually wear clothes like this, either, but then that's a story for another day…)
Town Criers of the 1800s and the early 1900s typically wore a jacket with a hat and a tie, except for George W. Ready, who sported his own well-worn clothing and hat, and a neckerchief tied snappily beneath his chin. It wasn't until the 1930s that these criers were outfitted in knee breeches and capes, with buckled belts, hats and shoes, and were then expected to act more as performers for summer visitors rather than as the disseminators of actual news for the town.
"Professor" G. W. Ready, by the way, was one of the most colorful among decades of Town Criers, holding his office for many years. Watch for articles I'll be writing about him, and a number of these lively characters, in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DON'T Feed the Animals?

This sign, on the way into Herring Cove Beach, asks us not to feed the wild animals we might meet there, which runs contrary to the way we might think.
We're especially inclined to want to look after some of Mother Nature's creatures in the wintertime, and our recent spate of bitter cold weather has made us even more conscious of our furred and feathered friends. But we're asked not to feed the animals for good reason…
It's best for the animals, and for us, that they maintain their natural fear of humans. When animals begin to lose their fears and get used to approaching humans for something to eat, they can grow dependent on that source of food, even when their natural sources of nourishment might be abundant. And there goes the balance of nature.
Are there any of us who haven't heard a coyote howling at the end of the road, or noticed a tremendous increase in the number of fox wandering the streets of Provincetown at night? These sounds and sightings used to be rare, and then they began to be fairly common in the middle of the night. Next, these animals began regularly appearing in our neighborhoods earlier, around the time we might be letting pets out one last time before going to bed. And soon it became common the see a fox, for example, looking for food, trotting from one yard to the next in the hours just after dark.
A couple of months ago, driving the short distance down Alden Street, I stopped to watch a fox casually crossing the road just ahead of me. He was sort of strolling from one yard to the next, in no hurry to get out of sight as he crossed in front of my headlights. Not 30 seconds later, just a few houses down, I was astonished to see a pair of fox amble across the road, again just ahead of me, and again unafraid of myself, nor the oncoming car.
What the fox!?!
Last week, in broad daylight, I stopped for a huge blonde fox crossing Bradford Street near Harbor Hill condos around 3 PM. He sauntered up a little hill to a small deck where he reared up on his hind legs and stuck his head between the bannisters surrounding that little porch near the doorway rather than walking up onto it, and began lapping up something he found there. I couldn't quite see what it was, but it seemed like perhaps a bowl of food or water that had been set out for him. He was there for several minutes, helping himself, and it seemed like this particular spot might be a regular stop on his daily route around the town.
A couple of days later, and just a couple of blocks from this spot, I stopped for a pair of fox meandering across Bradford Street near Winthrop, again unconcerned about being spotted or accosted by humans, and again around 3 PM, well before dark. They seemed fearless, with no qualms about being easily seen by humans, and no compunction about gobbling up food meant for pets, if that's what they were up to. Or are people now leaving out food for wild animals? That could prove disastrous for both them and us.
When wild animals get used to feeding at the hands of humans and lose their natural fears, they can become ever bolder, and eventually downright aggressive. We've already lost a number of pets to coyotes, certainly, and maybe to a few fox as well. And these animals can bring fleas, ticks and a number of diseases into town with them, which will eventually affect our pets. We can't invite wildlife to become citizens of PTown.
It's illegal to feed the animals in the Cape Cod National Seashore, for good reason, and we shouldn't feed them in town, either. Animals that become a threat must be euthanized, and no one wants that. If you're feeding wild animals, please stop. They will live their best lives if they live in that gorgeous, natural world that surrounds Provincetown, eating their own, natural foods.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Warm Weather for the Holidays Brought Lots of Folks to Herring Cove Beach

Peering over the asphalt embankment along Herring Cove,
I found many on the beach for a bit of recreation this day.
The warmest holiday season in recent memory brought visitors and Townies in great numbers to PTown beaches. Herring Cove seemed quite busy despite a persistent breeze on those unusually warm, sunny days between Christmas, New Year's, and the following weekend.
The temperature on the day after Christmas was in the mid-forties, with a fairly constant westerly breeze occasionally gusting to about 20 miles an hour. So the feeling was a bit brisk, but not daunting. That day was so lovely that there was a steady stream of people coming out to the beach all afternoon, enjoying this rare, warm, glorious weather.
In this photo some folks are simply strolling the northern end of Herring Cove, some are taking photos, some are climbing the tiny hillocks that ring the shoreline, while others are actively looking for treasures washed up onto the beach by that day's considerable surf and swash.
My personal favorites this day are right in the center of this photo: the terrier in mid air, jumping for the Frisbee, as his companion prepares, yet again, to fling it down the beach.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Enjoy Pilgrim Monument Holiday Lights Before They're Gone

Holiday lights on the Pilgrim Monument take on a
pinkish glow as the last of the sunset fades into twilight.
Folks say that on a good, clear night, you can see the lights of the Pilgrim Monument all the way from Boston, about 54 miles across open water, clear across Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay.
I can't swear to it, because I've never been on the shoreline of Boston for the holiday season. Maybe a reader in Boston could tell me. I do know that many people have said it is so, and it seems plausible…
We've got just a couple of days left to enjoy the sight of the Monument in strings of lights for the holidays, with more than 3,100 white lights glowing bright each night until Tuesday, the 6th of January. That's when these luminous strands will be turned off for the season, and a spotlight will once again light the Monument from below.

Here are a few of my favorite spots for a great view or photo of the Monument:
Near the southwest corner of Commercial and Ryder Streets, in just the right spot, you can capture the view without the power lines in your way.
•On Commercial Street, between The Red Store, The Canteen, and Seamens Bank, again, step around just a bit till you find the right spot to avoid having all of those power lines in your photo. You'll have the top of the Monument, the clock tower on Town Hall and the bell tower on the U.U. Church in your view.
•On Jerome Smith Road, just east of Winslow Street.
•Next to the little chapel at the top of the big hill in the cemetery.
•About halfway down Cemetery Road, all the power lines and wires disappear.
•On the far, far east end of Commercial Street (Route 6A) near Snail Road. The view from just in front of Bay Colony condos shows the lights of the Monument reflecting on Provincetown Harbor on a calm night.
•On Beach Point, in North Truro. The beachfront at condos and motels along Shore Road (Rout 6A) gives a nice, distant view of the Monument across Provincetown Harbor. Days' Cottages, for example, are closed for the winter, and at this time of year you can get away with parking there for a few minutes and stepping between the cottages for the view of Provincetown's shoreline.
Find yourself a spot and take a few moments to enjoy this Provincetown holiday tradition before it disappears for the season.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

TheYearRounder Reaches 100,000th Page View on New Year's Day, 2015!

This photo captures my mood today, showing the fireworks
bursting above that red moon rising over Provincetown Harbor
during the Fourth of July, 2012 celebration.
Early this morning the pages of this blog got their 100,000th viewing. Someone, somewhere in the world, clicked onto one of these pages to check out my blog, and kicked my number of page views into six figures, and by 2:35 PM, the number has reached 100,174!
I want to thank all of you, especially those who read my blog frequently, for taking the time to view these pages and see what I think is so special about Provincetown.
This year it will be 27 years since I moved to this remarkable, absolutely amazing little corner of the world, and I am still dumbstruck several times each week as I look around myself and see the beauty that unfolds here every single day, and feel the warmth of a community where the people genuinely do care for one another.
Wherever you might be, we all share a certain delight in all of the things that go to make Provincetown the unique place that it is for each one of us. I can't imagine living anywhere else in the world.
I wish you all joy, good fortune and the best of health as we venture into the New Year, and the time to spend basking in this gorgeous, wondrous place we all love so much.
May we each be happy as the proverbial clam in 2015!