“If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there…
“If you like the taste of a lobster stew…You’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.”  
Thank you, Patti Page.

As we grew up, our family spent many summers at Homer Smith Cottages in Eastham on Cape Cod. The cottages were on a private lake and only a mile or so from the ocean—the best of both worlds.  Each summer, Uncle Tony, Aunt Thelma and our cousins Tony, Bob and Pat (my sidekick) would spend a few days with us. We’d go swimming in the lake, sightseeing or our folks would drive us to Nauset Beach in Orleans. That was the best place for Pat, the boys and me to check out the “view,” if you know what I mean!

I remember Dad and Uncle Tony would take tubes and set out on the lake. As they chatted and laughed, they drifted further from the dock. Mom called out to Dad to come back closer—Dad couldn’t swim and she was uneasy. Uncle Tony told her not to worry:  “If he flips over, I’ll save Joe.”  They did come in closer and floated on the lake for a couple of hours. When they finally came out of the water, Dad had red sunburn stripes on his stomach!  He was neither very comfortable nor happy the next few days.

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One summer we were at the cottage during a hurricane. I just knew our cottage was going to be blown into the lake. The winds were fierce and the rain pounded the windows; the lake looked like a small ocean complete with white caps—I prayed like I never had before. It was a horrific and frightening encounter with Mother Nature.

A few days later we rode into town to get groceries. On the way back, Dad drove to the parking area high above the beach so we could see the ocean: How angry the waves were and the ocean noise and winds were deafening, rocking the car. My brother Jack got out so that he could take some pictures. He had to straddle the pylon or he’d have been blown over the edge.

We loved shopping in all the interesting little shops. And our vacation wouldn’t have been complete without a tummy-full-of-chunky lobster roll from a little drive-in stand perched on the rocks. Pure heaven  We also bought jars of homemade Wild Beach Plum Jelly from a roadside stand—how delicious on a toasted English muffin.  

Another must-stop was a little shop where Mom bought bona fide bayberry candles for the upcoming Christmas season—she couldn’t get them back home.  Did you know that according to legend, “A bayberry candle burned to the socket puts luck in the home, food in the larder and gold in the pocket?”

Friends, family history has repeated itself:  My son Paul and his family now have a summer home in Orleans, a mile from the ocean. He and JulieAnne (our beach bunny) have put in a lot of work and made it a home-away-from-home:  warm, welcoming and comfortable.

A surprise ending to my tale:  Dad had to replace the windshield on his car as it was badly pitted from the sand blown up from the beach. That being said, Mother Nature is full of surprises—don’t sell her short!