5 ways Woods Hole is just like PARIS… 8 Apr 2013, 11:59 am
Last month, my family and I went on a week’s vacation in Paris. That’s right, Paris, France, home of the Mona Lisa and birthplace of the croissant. With its’ dramatic wide boulevards, miles of shops and restaurants, triumphant arches and epic churches, it’s fair to say that on the surface of things, Paris does not have much in common with our tiny fishing village on Cape Cod.
But scratch a little deeper and there are similarities, so many that I may start calling Woods Hole the Paris of Cape Cod.
So here we go, countdown style, starting with number five, the things Paris and Woods Hole have in common:
5) IT’S COLD, BUT NOT CROWDED IN MARCH. Both Paris and Woods Hole are damp in March, prone to spring flurries of snow and dominated by people in rubber boots, blown backwards umbrellas and the scowl that comes from winter lasting longer than desired. Endure the chilly weather, and visit both places without the crowds. Here on Cape Cod that means empty beaches, crystal clear waters, open sky and views for miles. In Paris, you can jostle into the Louvre in less than 10 minutes, and see the Mona Lisa with 100 people rather than 1,000. Love it!
4) KILLER PASTRY SHOPS. OK, Paris has thousands of patisseries competing with each other for the finest tarte citron and mousse au chocolat. But, here in Falmouth, we have Pie in the Sky bakery offering sweet treats all year long, and the new Maison Villatte, serving French delicacies like croissant au chocolat and palmiers. Don your bakers hat and let the Parisian bake off begin!
3) SCULPTURE GARDENS. Sure, Paris boasts Rodin, Braque and Brancusi… but here in Woods Hole, we have a pretty cool collection of outdoor sculpture. Check out the placement of simple mill stones in Spohr Gardens, which like the famous Jardin des Tuileries, is not to be missed in spring plus the collection sprinkled around the MBL on Water and MBL Streets. Coming soon? A bronze of Rachel Carson, the famous environmentalist who wrote “Silent Spring,” expected in Waterfront Park. Take that, Gay Paris!
2) BIKES EVERYWHERE. Paris has embraced the bicycle, offering municipal bike rental stations called velib, and creating bike lanes to green up the city. This is also true here in Woods Hole, where the former train tracks into town have been converted to a dedicated bike path running along beaches, past cranberry bogs and though ancient forests. Hear, hear to forward-thinking municipalities everywhere.
Drumroll, please….The number one thing that Paris and Woods Hole have in common is:
1) BATEAU MOUCHES. The River Seine is packed with ferries and transport ships, called bateau mouches, some for tourists but many plying the river for trade as they have for eons. Woods Hole is no different, with a deep water harbor that brought whaling ships here in the 18th century, scientific research vessels in the 19th and 20th. Ferries also run constantly here, connecting Woods Hole like a tether to the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The allure of pragmatic boat travel is central to both locales, and ties us to our sister city.
So there you have it people… why Woods Hole is the Paris of Cape Cod. If you are having trouble guessing which photo is which, you are not alone, because that is how similar the two places are!
What do you think?
Jenny Wren 14 Mar 2013, 7:28 pm
I don’t often write personal posts, but today I uncovered a cache of photos from my past, and I have to share this story with you.
Here I am as a toddler, my hand mysteriously extended in mid air.
On the back of the photo, my mother wrote: Beth holding hands with “Jenny Wren” her important imaginary friend! We lived in Milton, Mass. and I was the first born. According to my mother, I insisted on this portrait of myself and Jenny Wren. At the ripe old age of three, with my baby sister maybe six months old, I can imagine I felt the need for a someone who I could really talk to about losing my mother’s attention, someone who listened, someone to hold hands with when I felt scared.
And there were lots of things to be scared about. The world was changing everywhere you looked — civil rights, women’s lib, Vietnam. I remember the nightly news reports with strange names that I whispered to Jenny because I liked how they rolled off my tongue: Ho Chi Minh … My Lai… I remember running naked through the sprinkler until I heard news about the arrests of streakers which scared me into a bathing suit. I remember the Great Dane next door, especially after our paper girl arrived on the doorstep with her thigh ripped open from his giant teeth. Yes, there was plenty of scary stuff back then.
Little could I imagine that 25 years later, I would meet my friend Jenny, and she would become a real-life Jenny Wren for me. I kind of think I was preparing for her here in this photo, making room in my growing brain for a friend so loyal that she would do anything for me (and visa versa).
The real-life Jenny Wren and I found each other in Los Angeles in the 1990′s, discovered that we were both from Massachusetts, and recalled that we had once met through the odd world of high school speech team. We found ourselves thousands of miles from the cobbled lanes of old Boston, wandering among the sushi bars, nail salons, parking lots and palm trees of Hollywood. Should it surprise you that we clung to each other like Mork and Mindy?
Everyone should have a friend like my Jenny Wren. She is warm, caring, kind and a great listener. You can count on her to tell it to you straight. She will support you to the ends of the earth with her spirited laugh and wide smile. Imaginative, talented, a great storyteller — my Jenny Wren is so great, she became a successful film writer and director. She is everything that little girl in the top photo dreamed of in the perfect friend.
Jenny Wren and I have some pretty great plans about growing old together (after our husbands are gone – it happens, you have to plan!) We will make sure to have plenty of younger friends, so we keep in touch with pop culture. I will teach her to knit, she will teach me charades. We will buy audiobooks when our eyes fail. She is a killer poker player, so we will go on the pro circuit — she will play and I will handle her marketing. Granny Jenny? That is ratings gold! We will eat out, laugh plenty and always hold hands in icy weather.
In case you are wondering what the real Jenny Wren looks like, here is the photo also discovered today that inspired this post. It’s the day before my wedding, back when Jenny was my “new” friend. She looks older than she did when we were three, but that is to be expected when you move from imaginary to real.
The real Jenny Wren is now traveling the world with her husband and two kids (you can learn more about her amazing journey on her blog AYeartoThink.com). While we are miles apart, and in different time zones, she is always in my heart. In fact, if I miss her, I can reach out my hand and feel hers right there, warm and calm, squeezing me back.
Just like when I was three.
In like Lion, Out like Lamb… 10 Mar 2013, 12:44 pm
Spring is in the air, and despite a three day storm where Old Mother Nature huffed and puffed and tried to blow our house down, the crocuses are popping with longer sunnier days reminding me that summer is right around the corner.
I guess that blooming witch hazel in an inch of snow, followed by crazy high tides from our most recent two storms are pretty normal for March on Cape Cod, but sometimes the schizophrenia of season-shifting leaves me scratching my head and wondering … what coat should I wear? Slushy rain, followed by freezing rain, followed by plain old rain, followed by plenty of mud is about how I would describe it from my shoes point of view.
I am enjoying getting out of the house on long walks with my “Weekend Wellness” guests — customers who bought a two night package including power walks and a wellness seminar. This weekend, I walked three hours with people from the Inn, showing them all over Woods Hole from Penzance Point to Nobska Lighthouse. I love the oohs and aahs of newcomers to the dinghy-cluttered yards in town, the massive lawns on the outskirts, and everywhere the vistas with ferries coming and going like toy boats out to entertain us. Views + fresh air = a clear mind. Add a camera in my hand and I am particularly happy.
Here is a photo essay of the many facets of weather I have seen just in the last two weeks. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe consider joining us some day in the fabulously quiet off-season.
Pond Skating 27 Feb 2013, 8:48 am
Skating on a pond with the sky all around you — the marsh in frozen suspension all dusty brown, the birds eyeing you skeptically — is one of the most exhilarating parts of winter in New England. Last year, it never got cold enough for the salty ponds to freeze, but this season we got a few wonderful days on the Mill Pond behind my house.
Neighbors gather for a pond party, very impromptu since we are never sure when the pond will freeze. One neighbor calls another, and the kids pass the news along the street — pond party tonight! It’s the winter equivalent of making hay when the sun shines — like, make hot cocoa when the ice freezes over.
Late afternoon in the gloaming we gather, boots stamping and breathes visible. The views back on our houses is so different from this new vantage point, and I think, this is what the ducks look at every day. Someone starts a small bonfire, and a tray of cheese and crackers gets nibbled at by kids whizzing gleefully across mushy, undulating ice. Parents gather around the fire, and someone brings a life ring — just in case. A few firecrackers are put off, sparklers shared. People talk about colder winters than this one, and their memories of even the Eel Pond freezing over years ago.
Finally it’s really dark and we head in for dinner, all rosy cheeks and good appetites. What a wonderful way to get out of the house in winter, and visit with friends. I live for pond skating on wintery Cape Cod. Just one of the many fun things to do in the off season.
Finding Nemo, a photo essay of the Big Storm 10 Feb 2013, 2:25 pm
It’s been a long couple of days, first marked by the howling winds of a blizzard (the fifth worst nor’Easter on record in these parts) then the relentless clean up from the storm they named Nemo. The first half of the storm was all wet snow which became leaden and icy, and was topped with a lighter snow that blew and drifted all over the place in the 60 MPH winds, making the shoveling out particularly challenging.
Miraculously, we found ourselves with power as the storm started to lessen on Saturday morning, and as reports came in on Facebook and other places that more than 3/4 of Cape Cod was not in the lucky position we were in, I decided to offer all the rooms at the Woods Hole Inn for free to any local person without power. I posted that on Facebook and Twitter, and the phones lit up almost immediately.
I offered our rooms on a first come, first served basis and they filled up very quickly –waitresses, women with small children, a young scientist and his pregnant wife, an older couple plus daughters and twin grand-daughters. People who had been in the cold and the dark well on 12 hours, and who were so sweet and grateful for the warm bed and a nice hot cup of coffee.
In between checking all those people in, then cleaning every room in the house after they left (phew!), I managed to sneak out and get some wonderful pictures of Woods Hole in this rare deep snow. First are the ones taken while the wind was still raging, then later in the weekend when the sun came out. The Blizzard of ’13 was a lot of extra work, but it sure was fun!
Bike Tour of Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard 5 Feb 2013, 9:10 am
Come away to the sea-side town of Falmouth, Cape Cod and explore Falmouth’s coastline and villages as well as nearby Martha’s Vineyard island. Your getaway package includes luxurious accommodations, great food and lovely scenery seen from your guided cycling tour. Your personal guide Rob Micelli, owner of Cotuit Cycling tours, will guide you on two leisurely bike tours during your weekend getaway.
Price includes all elements of the tour as listed below, with two nights luxury lodging at your choice of the Woods Hole Inn or Captains Manor Inn. Queen $825, King $935, double occupancy. Ask about staying a third night when you reserve. This will sell out — so get your reservation by calling us TODAY! Bring your own bikes, or call us to coordinate rentals.
Friday June 14th 2013
3:00 Check-in to your Inn
5:00 Wine and Cheese Reception
Evening on your Own
Saturday June 15th
8-9:00 Full Breakfast at your Inn
10:00 Falmouth Village Cycling Tour Begins
12:00 Picnic Lunch from Bean & Cod Gourmet Store
2:00 Cycling Tour Ends
3:00 Afternoon Refreshments at your Inn
6:00 Lobster Taco dinner at Quicks Hole restaurant
Evening on your Own
Sunday June 16th
8-9:00 Full Breakfast at your Inn and check out (bags can be held at the front desk)
9:30 Ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard
10:15 Arrive in Oaks Bluff and begin cycling tour
2:30 Cycling Tour Ends & Ferry returns to Woods Hole (you can return later on your own if you so choose)
Falmouth Village Center Tour (Day One)
Ride the best kept secret on the East Coast! We’ll explore the The Shining Sea Bikeway with it’s oceanside views of Martha’s Vineyard, a sneak peek of a Frank Lloyd Wright home and a stop on the hilltop view of Nobska lighthouse. The route follows the famous Falmouth Road Race and leads us past the marshes of Sippewissett to the village of Woods Hole, home of the Marine Biology Labs and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Explore the peninsula that separates Buzzards Bay from Vineyard Sound, and get a sense of the gentle topography of Falmouth from it’s peaceful, car-free bike path.
The Vineyard Tour (Day Two)
We’ll ferry to Oak Bluffs and tour the sites and sounds of Martha’s Vineyard. We’ll travel bikeways and quiet back roads, beaches and boardwalks. Come see what all the fuss is about, exploring the Vineyard at your own pace with a group of eager cyclists. With rolling hills, plenty of bird life and lots of places to stop for a swim, you will delight in a day of fun and sun on the Vineyard with our knowledgeable tour guide showing you all the secret spots and best routes.
Visiting Chez Panisse 20 Jan 2013, 7:45 am
Last week, Stephanie Mikolazyk and I were honored to “guest chef” at one of the most famous restaurants in America — Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. Head chef Cal Peternell invited us (as he will be coming to Woods Hole this summer for an epic farm-to-table dinner at our restaurant Quicks Hole on August 13th) and its safe to say we JUMPED at the chance.
We helped out in the kitchen for two full days, starting with the chefs meeting at about 1.30 pm, through all the prep work, then service for two seatings of 50 lucky customers and an extraordinary meal (see menus and photos below…not for the faint of heart).
We chopped, swept, cleared, plated and generally tried to stay out of the way in our Chez Panisse chef jackets. We were also invited to the chefs meal, where the kitchen crew sits down together to eat what they have cooked that night in very civilized a half-hour break between the first and second seatings.
I was astounded by the restaurants commitment to going green — every scrap of waste is composted or recycled if possible, all produce is sourced locally and organic — and the incredible calm demeanor of the staff. This kitchen has a culture of mutual respect and teamwork unlike any workplace I have ever seen. Alice Waters was not there, but you could feel her presence in this culture, a feeling that the process of working together, making the food with love, and sharing the journey was imbued in the copper lined walls, soaked into the butcher block tables and baked right into the wood-fired grill.
What follows is a photo essay of the highlights from our incredible experience. Thanks to all the chefs at Chez Panisse for making us feel so welcome, and especially to Cal whose calm leadership style is a personal inspiration.
Menus: The first night the menu was warm salad of cardoons and leeks with chervil, egg and black truffle followed by Tomales Bay clam brodetto with grilled fennel and Espelette pepper, then Becker Lane Farm pork loin with chicories, balsamic vinaigrette and sage, new onion and Lady William apple fritters plus tangerine millefoglie for dessert. The second night the menu was Chino Ranch radicchio and orange-scented beets with ginger vinaigrette, then Louisiana Gulf shrimp risotto with toasted sesame seeds and fried leeks, then Salmon Creek Ranch duck breast grilled with coriander, fennel and green garlic, with roasted parsnips and pickled persimmon relish and for dessert Meyer lemon ice cream profiteroles with pistachio-anise nougatine.
I re-read this menu and think – OMG!!! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Remember the scene in Harry Met Sally when Nora Ephron says, “I’ll have what she’s having…” ??
It was like that:)
Lap of Luxury 8 Jan 2013, 9:59 am
The summer people (those who own houses and visit Woods Hole mostly in the summer) really know how to live — yachts waiting at the end of long deep harbor docks, vegetable gardens brimming with hyper-local fare, rose cutting gardens and tennis courts perched above private beaches.
Surrounding the charming village of Woods Hole (where the Woods Hole Inn is located) with it’s busy shops and wonderful restaurants are estates, docks and yachts that would put the most status-oriented Hamptonite’s teeth on edge.
But Woods Hole wealth is so low key that you probably have never heard of the families that reside near here, captains of industry who choose to remain anonymous, who cherish their private personas and their hidden invitation-only estates. Cape Cod has sections where it’s all about status, where public dinners in expensive and impossible-to-get-into restaurants are de rigueur (ahem, Nantucket) but Woods Hole is decidedly not one of them.
Woods Hole people are more impressed with your latest published book, your hike up Kilimanjaro or your Nobel prize than they are with the length of your driveway or the new varnish on your Woody. (Yes, that is a real Woody waiting to squire this Woods Hole family around Buzzards Bay after dinner.)
One such prominent Woods Hole clan entertains guests on a series of dark blue power yachts for sunset cruises to Vineyard Haven and Edgartown (harbor towns on nearby Martha’s Vineyard), finally acquiring so many different boats that they bought a local marina in order to dock them all nearby. Another local grande dame told me, upon touring her house laden with China Trade era antiques: “We don’t buy furniture, we have it.” The Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey could not have said it better.
But keeping it real is part of the game — I have had cocktails on the verandah of a fabulous Penzance Point house only to see it’s occupants headed out of Job Lot the next morning, arms laden with items priced at $1. Or arrived on the porch of the finest property and shared laughter and deep insights into current events along with stale saltines and watery lemonade.
This must be how the rich get richer, I muse. I just continue to feel lucky to live amongst the beauty and eccentricity that is Woods Hole — the best kept secret on Cape Cod.
Red Chair in Snow 30 Dec 2012, 11:52 am
Snow is rare in Woods Hole. The confluence of Gulf Stream waters that surround us keep it warmer here than other places. Last winter it snowed only once!
And so it is special indeed to wake up to a frosting like the one inch we received last night. Add that our Red Chair is back after months and months traveling all over New England and yes, you guessed it, despite my winter cold I threw on boots, wool hat and finger mittens this morning to catch the (already melting!) snow in bright light.
The wind was howling so hard out on Stoney Beach that it knocked the chair right over, more than once. And crunch crunch crunching over the hoary ice on the golf course made me nervous that I might slip down one of those slick hills like the kids I heard squealing with delight on sleds. My nose was running and my cheeks starting to match the chair when I finally stumbled back home to the Inn. But without further adieu, here is my photo essay of Woods Hole in winter with my friend, the Red Chair….
Wellness Weekends 27 Dec 2012, 6:18 am
Where better than Cape Cod to find peace, tranquility, and the quiet restorative power of nature with a walk on the beach, the exploration of a bird sanctuary, or just a few moments at the pier staring into the churning grey ocean as it meets a slate winter sky?
The wellness weekend includes a healthy snack welcome platter (hummus, almonds, fresh cut carrots & more), followed by healthy breakfast options — our private chef is working on gluten free quiche crusts, egg white omelettes and more — and a guided power walk each morning at 7.30 am. Breathe in the salt air as you explore local beaches, hidden treasures and the stunning views from Nobska Lighthouse while starting the day with a brisk work-out.
On Saturday afternoon, we invite special guest and guru wellness coach Felicia Hilliard (of “Why Weight? Cape Cod”) in to share her nutrition and wellness secrets for one hour. Felicia has transformed lives with her simple plans, and you will be inspired by what she shares in this seminar which starts promptly at 4 pm in the Inn.
Leave time Sunday to take advantage of our late parking deal, and hop the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for a day of exploration. Use this getaway to hit the reset button, move away from the glow of the computer screen and start the healthy habits that will put you on track for the whole year.
The Wellness Package is on sale starting today, only on Groupon. Certain restrictions apply, and the offer is based on availability, and we expect it will sell out. We look forward to welcoming you to Woods Hole!