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Cape Cod Passions in Contrast
by Saralee Perel
It's only in comparison to the marvelous Cape summers that the winters seem so long. Frankly, they're never long enough for me.
What could be more beautiful than Provincetown in the winter? The starkness opens vistas that aren't visible in the summer. One February, my husband, Bob, and I stayed at the top of the Land's End Inn in an octagonal shaped room that had windows on all sides.
One of the lampshades was a knight's helmet. Naturally, being the artsy, sophisticated people we are, our first vacation activity was putting the lampshade on our heads and taking pictures.
From our bed, which was round, we could see the harbor where lighted fishing boats made their way out to sea at dawn on calm purple-pink waters. The restaurants were quiet havens. Conversations on Commercial Street could be heard in distinct crispness in comparison to the high-level din all day long in the summer.
It is this polarity, so notable in Provincetown, that adds to its distinction. Awareness of contrasts heightens our appreciation of them. And that means valuing both perspectives.
And so, in telling you about our winter passions, you'll see their dimensional nature is most clear when you take a look at both sides.
I got annoyed at my husband, Bob, when we walked through Sandwich Village one weekend this past July. He pointed to the tourists putting their heads and hands through the stocks in front of the Dan'l Webster Inn and said, "Can't you picture those stocks in winter all covered with snow?"
"How about living in the present?" I said. But he reminded me that he was. It's just that the present is more enhanced for him this way.
Bob looks at a wintry dried flower bouquet and pictures the blossoms when they were freshly opened. It's not that he's wishing winter away. He's treasuring the seasonal connections.
During winter, Bob bakes bread. All kinds of bread. He practices incessantly. This is because he's a 14-time blue ribbon winner at the Barnstable County Fair and he's dead-set to continue to win.
Most winter days, there are several loaves of practice bread rising in front of our heating stove. If the lights are out, there is the enchanting winter experience of putting my bare foot in a large bread pan filled with ballooning dough. Then I shake it off which sends dough globules flying around the room. Unlike the cats, I do not get a big kick out of this.
The heating stove is a beautiful demonstration of contrasts and connection. During the spring, a vase of daffodils rests upon it. In summer, it displays zinnias, and during fall it's surrounded by pumpkins and milkweed with a pot of orange mums sitting on its cap.
In winter, nothing is on top of it. The silent fire behind the glass front heats our entire home.
It is during the cold months that Bob makes special dishes using quahogs we gathered ourselves in the summer. He combines both clam and corn chowders in the same pot.
Our freezer is filled with other creative concoctions made after hot summer days of clamming. You must try his very own recipe.
24 medium quahogs, steamed. Cut clam meat into chunks.
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pound hot sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, cut into quarter inch cubes
1 small jar salsa
Mix everything together. Fill a quahog shell and bake it until the cheese melts, about five minutes at 350°.
These can be frozen and nuked.
Sitting in front of the fire while eating clam dishes made from our summer pickings is my idea of an idyllic time.
I now appreciate Bob's perspective of re-living all of the seasons. We treasure our winter passions as well as our summer passions. Actually, even more so because of our summer passions.
Before I discovered the kinship of seasons, my kitchen was the same as it is today. But now I see it differently. We collected rose hips on a hot afternoon after which we made rose hip jelly. The blueberry jam was created after spending an August morning in a blueberry patch. Raspberry jelly is from our own backyard. It's not that I'm living in the past. Instead, I'm appreciating the present even more.
A minister once told me, "Time is too precious to wish it would go faster." So instead of counting the days until summer, I luxuriate in the days of winter and count myself blessed to be a part of the Cape's multi-seasonal wonders.
Saralee Perel is an award-winning nationally syndicated columnist. Her new book, Cracked Nuts & Sentimental Journeys: Stories From a Life Out of Balance, is available in local bookstores.
It can also be ordered through Amazon, or directly from the publisher, as well as from Saralee for a personalized signed copy.
Her novel, Raw Nerves, is also available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.