Making magick at Ritual

Unassumingly tucked away in a small commercial plaza off Rt. 6A lies in wait for a hidden gem- unlikely to be found by accident, and likely just what you didn’t know what you are looking for until you find it. That was true even for owner Holly Lemieux, when she established Ritual in May of 2021 after selling her popular boutique in Hyannis in pursuit of new endeavors. Having planned to take some time off to regroup in between projects, the universe- as it sometimes does- delivered just the right set of circumstances, and within a month Ritual found its home in Yarmouth Port.

Natural wooden shelving displays a wide variety of USDA, FDA-certified organic, and ethically wildcrafted dried herbs.

A string of bells jingle as two women enter the shop, and Holly is summoned from the firepit out back where she had been chatting with Meghan Hamilton, a Tarot reader and medium who does readings and Spell Consultations by appointment and walk-in on Fridays. Holly greets and invites her guests to browse to their spirit’s content through the ethereal collection of pewter and ceramic bowls brimming with skeleton keys and polished rings of hematite. Books of spellcasting and potions, meditations, and prayers span the rooms, intermingled with a wide array of oracle cards and idols, incense cones, and bottled bones. A full corner of the shop hosts shelves upon shelves of glass bottles of various dried resins and dried herbs, including some that are harder to source, and used for magical purposes- like Blue, White, Red, and Sacred Lotus.

“We are open to all practices and paths. We try to have material, books or ephemera to everybody who walks through our door.” -Holly, Owner of Ritual

Perhaps surprisingly, is Holly’s down to Earth approach to the otherworldy. “I like being able to change people’s conception of things,” describing how people unfamiliar with metaphysical things can perceive them as scary. “Either way we are all making meatloaf. Just using a different recipe,” she explains, and as such, she advises her patrons to let their individual intuition be the guide for which crystal, deck, or talisman to select. One woman approaches the counter with a handblown glass wand, an opaline bracelet, and a shiny piece of black tourmaline. Her friend, unable to choose between her narrowed-down selection of beaded gemstone bracelets, decides to go with all four; black onyx, rainbow fluorite, clear and rose quartz, and a bag of loose white sage. They talk amongst each other about scheduling a card reading as they exit the way they came in, past the one item in the store that is not for sale. A huge amethyst geode made to resemble a shark with its large googly eyes, aptly named Bruce.

Ritual proudly offers handmade and artisan products crafted by local artists and practitioners on Cape Cod and nearby communities and is hosting its 2nd annual Salty Witches Samhain Market on October 30th.

Other upcoming events can be found on the website, including Psychic Readings with Kris on Tuesdays, Tarot, and Oracle on Wednesdays, and Energy Healing on Thursdays with Molly. Register for Conscious Creation, a 4 Week Intuitive Writing Workshop beginning November 4th. Jerry Marchand will share his knowledge of rare crystal and mineral specimens on November 12th, with 5% of the proceeds of his sales to benefit the Dakin Humane Society. Be sure to check the website and Facebook for updates and new events, including big news at the end of December!

Ritual is located at 939 Rt. 6A, Unit B
Yarmouth Port, MA 02675.
(774) 994-8358
ritualcapecod@gmail.com
ritualcapecod.com

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

Photo credit: Britt Skinner

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Thacher Hall, A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight

Thacher Hall

On Old King’s Highway among centennial Yarmouthport buildings such as the Edward Gorey House and Benjamin Thacher Gorham House, sits what architect Sarah Jane Porter calls “the most significant historic public structure of its period on Cape Cod.” Boston architect Samuel Thayer designed the building formerly known as the Church of the New Jerusalem in 1870, constructed by John Hinckley, with towering gothic arches, and stained glass windows. The church was originally the spiritual home to Swedenborgian Christians, (a popular denomination of its time), and was congregated for about a hundred years until the number of parishioners dwindled too low to maintain the edifice, and it fell into devastating disrepair.

In 1998 when Cape Cod community members, who wanted to see the property reinvented as a community center, organized The Yarmouth New Church Preservation Foundation, a local board of volunteer directors purchased the former church building for $1 and began the mission to breathe new life into the old bones of the building and utilize it as a community center. Sorely needed renovations continue to be primarily funded by donations, ticket sales, and the yearly contributions of the Friends of the Yarmouth New Church Preservation Foundation. Since then, the foundation has brought the building up to current fire codes and handicapped accessibility, improved water, and electrical services, and updated the sound and lighting systems.

The carefully renovated belltower and belfry preserve the ethereal beauty and soul of the place, and the restored original stained-glass windows and frescoed walls overlook the original tracker pipe organ. Adding to its attention-drawing uniquely exquisite character are pews crafted of American Chestnut, a hardwood that became functionally extinct after a catastrophic blight in the early 20th century. 

However, even with all the restorations, a new roof, and a fresh coat of paint to broadcast its readiness to be a part of the community as a whole, the building is still frequently mistaken for a church. A common misconception that was perpetuated by the old name, The New Church. On June 26, 2022, after plans were temporarily halted by the COVID19 pandemic, the building was rebranded as Thacher Hall at a dedication ceremony by the foundation and members of the Cape Cod community.

Live music with Blu Central & Greg Hischak

Yarmouth resident and foundation Event Manager, Victoria Krukowski, explains that while the beautiful building’s allure contains the staples, and ambiance of a gorgeous old church, it no longer holds any religious affiliations, and is the perfect venue for local artists to display galleries of their work in a place that according to her feels like taking a step back in time. Having a career background as a musician with the symphony orchestra, she appreciates how the rustic space carries soulful acoustics, and she deeply admires the historical artifacts and quirky intricacies that Thacher Hall offers a remarkable choice for private and community events.

Previous events have included Open Mic Nights, weddings, memorial services, the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, Haunted Octobers, and Christmas Strolls. Since 2020 it has been used as a community art center. Planned Events and availability can be found on the website, and they can be reached by phone at 508-744-7368, and by Email at events@yarmouthportcommon.org.

Thacher Hall invites you to attend a Historic 1870 Organ Demonstration and Concert at 2 pm on Sunday, August 7th, 2022, where you can learn the history of the organ, see how the organ is built, and hear it played by Dr. Mark Lawlor, of the American Guild of Organists of Cape Cod and the islands. This family-friendly event is free to attend.

Thacher Hall is located at 266 Route 6A (Main Street), in Yarmouthport. 

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

Photo credits: Britt Skinner and William DeSousa-Mauk

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Yarmouth in the Revolution

In order to recognize the 250th anniversary of the events leading up to, and of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War Commemorative Committee is researching events and filling gaps in our knowledge with an emphasis on primary sources, and the correcting of myths, embellishments, and unsupported generalities passed down over the years. We hope readers will be inspired to share with us family lore, diaries, letters, stories, or documents about the Revolution in “old” Yarmouth.

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Summer is in full swing on Cape Cod

The beaches are bustling with locals and visitors alike, and the ice cream shops can hardly scoop fast enough to cool off the queue of sun-kissed patrons in between rounds of mini-golf. But it’s not summer on the Cape, according to die-hard sports fans across the nation, without the excitement of the famously riveting Cape Cod Baseball League games played by the most up-and-coming college players with big dreams of making it to the Major Leagues. 

Red Wilson Field, named in 1981 for legendary Yarmouth coach, manager, and player Merrill “Red” Wilson, located at D-Y High School, has been home to the Red Sox since 1973. However, it would be another 4 years until the team would be expanded to include the town of Dennis. Over 40 years later, the 2022 Yarmouth-Dennis Red-Sox are off to a great start, currently holding first place in the East Division. The team recently had seven players selected onto the Easts All Star Roster, including two starting fielders, two reserve fielders, and three pitchers.

The 24th year of coaching for Scott “Pick” Pickler has seen him break the record for all-time managerial wins in the Cape Cod Baseball League. On June 25th after a 5 to 3 win against the Cotuit Kettleers, Pick earned his 540th win, all with the Y-D Red Sox, earning cheers and accolades from the team and fans.  “He is a great coach, a great ambassador for the community, and a great leader of these young men. We couldn’t be prouder of all his accomplishments,” boasts Shane Skinner, Interim President of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, who was there for the record-breaking game, and had the honor of presenting Pick with a plaque to commemorate the win. Pick and his team, in doing their part to give back to the community, have been involved by volunteering their time with many local organizations, including Cape Cod Five, Ryan’s Family Amusements, the Red Jacket, and the Dennis Senior Center.

Being involved with the Cape Cod Baseball League has been a blessing for Shane. “I’ve always had a passion for sports,” he explains, “and being able to combine that passion with my experience of running businesses is like a dream come true.”  Shane can be found at each and every home game making sure things run smoothly and overseeing all business operations. With the help of ten dedicated baseball fans on the Board of Directors, over 30 Volunteer Interns, and over a dozen Community Volunteers, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red-Sox enthusiastically hosts a fun Game Day experience for families and fans of all ages. At a recent game, a small group of young kids stood up in the balcony next to the press box and sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” a new addition to the festivities this year. “I’d say most nights it’s about 60% giggles and 40% singing which is just great,” Shane laughs. “The kids love it.” Singers have come from all over the state, and some from right here on Cape to sing the National Anthem before games, and set the scene for a family-fun night of good ol’ American baseball.

Upwards of two thousand fans per game don Red-Sox gear, lining the bleachers and dotting the outskirts of the field with beach chairs, for their chance to see superstars in the making. The merchandise booth offers trinkets, hats, and attire for all ages to support their favorite team. Families who come early can observe batting practice and then partake in some of the in-game events. This week on Tuesday 7/19 is Pokémon at the Park Night, hosted by the Cape Cod Toy Chest, and patrons can enter with Pixy 103 to win a baseball autographed by the team. On Thursday 7/21, the players will be available after the game to greet fans and sign baseballs, souvenir bats, and other items. Concessions offer a satisfying assortment of ball-game favorites like sausage subs, hot dogs, burgers, pretzels, and cold drinks. They sell out of hot delicious Paradise Pizza by the 5th inning, so be sure to order early! The 50/50 shed will have raffle tickets on sale, in addition to candy and drinks. The raffle is held at the bottom of the 7th inning. The Y-D Red Sox, and the entire Cape Cod Baseball League, strive to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere. Admission and parking are free, but tax-deductible donations are always welcome. As a not-for-profit establishment, donations keep the team equipped and outfitted, and able to put on a great season year after year.

Baseball Clinics For Kids

Youth Baseball Clinics for ages 5-16 run Monday-Friday from 9-11:30 am and are run by Coach Pickler, the Assistant Coaches, and some of the players. “It’s just a great opportunity. These kids get to go out there and play some baseball and learn some skills from these top players and have a great time each week. The weekly clinics end with a kids vs. family baseball game. I just played against my two sons, and we couldn’t have had a better time.” The last week for the 2022 clinics begins Monday 7/25. Registration can be completed online or at the field.

There’s a saying amongst the team:

When on Cape Cod you must:

  1. Go the beach
  2. Eat a lobstah
  3. Go to a Y-D baseball game

We hope to see you there!

For more info about the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox visit the website, or find them on Instagram and Facebook.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

Photo credit: Y-D Red Sox Intern Sadie Parker

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Things to Do with Kids in Yarmouth

You planned a vacation in Yarmouth with the whole family, but other than spending time on the beach, you’re not sure how you’re going to pass the time. Your kids want to stay plugged into their devices. You want to focus on family time and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Check out our list of fun things to do when you are visiting Yarmouth and Cape Cod with children of any age.

Family of mother and kids enjoying a ride on a public ferry at sunset

Explore the area by land or sea

With water everywhere, you can enjoy a nautical adventure with a sightseeing cruise or a ferry to one of the nearby islands. Or take a drive through quaint towns and villages–an opportunity to encourage younger ones to take a nap while you soak in some of the picturesque views.

Go whale watching

Seeing whales in their natural habitat is awe-inspiring. While there’s no guarantee of how many whales you will see on your excursion, the boat ride alone will take a significant part of your day. Whale-watching trips are generally close to four hours, and you’ll want to leave yourself enough time beforehand for boarding.

Kid fishing

Reel them in with some fishing

The variety of water bodies in Yarmouth provides a wide range of fishing options. Search out a lake, pond, or riverside fishing hole, or take to the high seas for a day of trawling on the open waters. Even if you prefer catch-and-release, a day spent fishing teaches patience and persistence. Plus, it can give you time to slow down, relax, and talk with your kids about anything, everything, or nothing at all.

Get out

Burn off some energy with outdoor adventures. Take in the scenery by biking, kayaking, sailing, or taking a trek on the dunes. Let the kids take the wheel on a go-kart track or cool off at the Wicked Waves Water Park.

Play a round or two

On Cape Cod, you’ll find expertly designed golf courses of all sizes. Not only can you take the whole family mini-golfing on a putt-putt course, but you can play 9 or 18 holes with your older children on links with incredible scenic views.

Step back in time

Explore Yarmouth’s rich history and culture at a variety of museums and historical centers. Visit the homes of notable literary figures, check out sites that recreate the region’s legends and lore, and give your children an education without their even realizing it.

Indulge in a sweet treat

Two ice cream cones

Regardless of how else you spend the day taking a break for ice cream makes everything a little sweeter. Treat the kids to an afternoon snack or delicious dessert. Or, for teens who sleep in all morning, surprise them with ice cream for a late breakfast. It’s sure to create memories they’ll hang on to for years to come.

Cheer for the home team

No tickets are needed to turn out to root for your favorite Y-D Red Sox players. Bring the whole family to watch some of the best collegiate players take to the diamond. You never know when you’ll see a future phenom, like former Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale.

Spend time on the beach

Yes, this one is obvious, but it’s an essential part of a stay in Yarmouth. There are many beautiful beaches with options on both Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound sides. Not only can you go swimming, but you can walk or play along the water’s edge or just listen to the water going in and out. Teaching your children how to unplug and just live in the moment is an essential lesson for the years ahead.

Kids grow from toddlers to teens all too fast. But with our suggestion of ways to entertain your family on the Cape, you’re sure to find plenty of reasons to keep coming back year after year.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

The 2022 Cape Cod Pirate Festival

Ho! Gather ‘round ye’ and I’ll tell ye a tale. Chris Schultz, his mother called ‘em when he was knee-high to a parrot. That’s the man who had an idea to batten down the hatches and bring pirate life to Cape Cod. After working for a better part of 20 years as a performer, manager, developer, agent, and director of the Florida Renaissance Festival, he began motivating businesses to run their work virtually when COVID started taking its toll. Chris started a specialized event planning company,  New Latitude Event Solutions, that focused on virtual events for small non-profits and small businesses, noting that many small businesses didn’t have the tools or resources to get the job done. “I kind of jumped in to help out,” he says. As in-person events began to return, friends and family began to encourage him to go back to his roots. “So I decided to launch the Cape Pirate Festival last year with about two months to plan it.” He goes on to say “It was a frenzy. And it was a ton of fun!” To say it was a great success is an understatement. About 2000 people attended the event by the end of the first week, and Chris knew that this was the beginning of an amazing thing. It seems that he was right!

Tickets to the event will shiver your timbers with Swashbuckling Adventures offering family-friendly fun with interactive fairy tale shows, storytelling, and original music calling to our inner Vikings, Celtics, sea-battled pirates, and wenches. Respectively. Each day of the 4-day event has a unique theme inviting guests to get into character and play along for an increasingly immersive experience. Whether you’re a sea-legged old salt or young-blooded landlubber, you are invited to dress and talk like a pirate, be an ambassador representing your own otherworldly realm, or enjoy a 4 Day Season Pass and get exclusive access to after-hours scallywaggin’, VIP booty, and bragging rights. Contests and prizes will be awarded for the best costumes, photos, and more!  Don’t have a costume? Avast ye! You can look in ye duffle come up with your own, or dig into your coffer to throw down a few doubloons to get yar’self the garb for the occasion. No need to pillage and plunder if you can’t find the perfect piece, as you’re sure to find last-minute costumes, jewelry, accessories, and souvenirs with an assortment of vendors that will be scattered across the grounds. So, pop on your peg leg, grab a parrot and your hearties, and join the fun!

Practice your song and dance, maties, because there’s a song around every corner. This year’s festival is packed full of local and national talent including the war pipes and drums band Cu Dubh, featuring TikTok sensation Ally the Piper, the exclusively assembled pirate-themed rock and roll band The Plankwalkers, and a locally homegrown group of Chauncey singers, the Whydah Washashores. “We have wonderful talent here on Cape,” Chris proudly exclaims. “We’ve got some of the best voices and performers on Cape Cod!”

If you’d like to splice the mainbrace at the pub, you’ll find it staffed by the Harlot Queens, who’ll be pouring and performing in a pirates-meet-coyote-ugly fashion. The 1000 Islands Pirate Society will launch a “stationary pub crawl” consisting of drinking games and traditional games, telling stories as they move from table to table interacting with the crowd. If pub life isn’t your bag, a wide variety of food will also be available from vendors at the festival.

“It’s a blast! It’s great for families.  It’s great for young couples and groups of friends who want to go out. There’s a little bit of everything.”

-Chris Shultz, Founder of the Cape Cod Pirate Festival

The 2nd Annual Cape Cod Pirate Fest will occur at the YARMOUTH FAIRGROUNDS located at 669 MA-28 in West Yarmouth for “two roguish weekends” June 4th & 5th and June 11th & 12th from 10:30 am – 6:30 pm.

This event is partially funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Doing the Steps: Edward Gorey and the Dance of Art

A centuries-old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth Port became the final dwelling place for a quirky, but reclusive artist when he moved from New York in the 80s. It was there that he spent his remaining 14 years of life with his curious assortments of oddities, over 26,000 books, and most importantly his “people” as he endearingly referred to them, his cats. Edward Gorey’s work as an author, illustrator, and designer spanned nearly 50 years, earning him a Tony Award for Best Costume Design for his work on the Broadway revival of Dracula, and a cult following for his exquisitely gothic style of illustration and macabre surrealism.

“I must say, I don’t always understand Ted’s books, but I do like them.”Edward Gorey’s mother, Helen

In 1953 Edward Gorey self-published his first book, The Unstrung Harp, thus beginning a cascade of literary nonsense with distinctive pen and ink lines depicting the delightfully dreadful in over a hundred more books, and by the time of his death, several more unpublished manuscripts stashed neatly, (and haphazardly), around his home. His work became the inspiration for Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline for which Gaiman lamented was written after Edwards’s death, thereby missing its chance for his illustration. Edward himself wrote his books using both his given name and its anagrams, such as Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, and D. Awdrey-Gore. As private as he was popular, Gorey preferred to avoid the spotlight. Very much an animal lover and advocate, he usually had up to 6 cats, the perfect number according to him. Before he died he established The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust to manage his legacy and estate, and to support his favorite animal welfare organizations locally and afar. The upstairs of the house continues to be occupied by cats, keeping the spirit of the home authentically charmed.

Today, 22 years after his death, The Edward Gorey House stands as an archive for his admired collections of rocks, trinkets, books, and the grotesque. Cheese graters are casually displayed with skulls. A preserved Belgian waffle and a mosaic of checks from his favorite dining spot, Jack’s Outback II, are framed together on the kitchen wall. Handmade puppets and dolls adorn the rooms and halls amongst his characters and illustrations. One hapless child’s legs and feet protrude from a rug. A collection of old matches is stacked on the mantle. A bottle of lye on the windowsill.

Past year’s exhibits have included He wrote it all down Zealously: Edward Gorey’s Interesting Lists in 2020, and Hapless Children: Drawings from Mr. Gorey’s Neighborhood in 2021. This year’s Exhibit is Doing the Steps: Edward Gorey and the Dance of Art, which shares with us the influence Edward’s passionate infatuation with the New York City Ballet had on his art and life.

 “Gorey once said that he could visualize that progression of ballets in his head, like a movie he could play forward or backward, decades of form and movement and story—literally, at his fingertips.”

The Edward Gorey House is open from early April through the end of December each year.

8 Strawberry Lane • Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

508-362-3909 • edwardgoreyhouse@verizon.net

Click here to see house visiting hours, tour times, and admission info. Reservations are encouraged due to limited capacity. Admission is free for members.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Things to Do Over Spring Vacation 2022

April 18th through the 22nd is the official dates for Spring Break in Massachusetts public schools, meaning that in just a few short weeks households on Cape will be teeming with energetic kids and teens chomping at the bit for something fun to do, and well-caffeinated parents who may be underprepared to fill that void. Spring Break isn’t just for the littles however, we grown-ups need to unwind too! Luckily there is something for everyone just around the corner to banish the school-free boredom and maybe even (gasp!) learn something!

For the Kids

The Cape Cod Gymnastics’ mission is “to encourage and provide any child a beginning in athletics and start them on the road to a healthy and fit future.” The center offers a Vacation Week Program from Monday, April 18 to Friday, April 22. Kids ages 3.5 and up will be kept entertained and on their toes with activities such as gymnastics, ninja, games, and challenges. Register for classes online, by email at tumble@capecodygmnastics.com, or by calling 508-744-7751!

The Cape Cod Natural History Museum in Brewster is providing interactive play and crafts to celebrate Earth Day during school vacation week, including daily 90 minute Guided Family Field Walks on the trails outside the museum, a daily Littles Lab, geared toward children ages 3-7. Other activities include building a butterfly house, creating a birdfeeder, and nature journal art. Have fun with Interstellar Explorations complete with your very own “Nebula Spin Art”, Moon Adventure, a hands-on science-based challenge game for small groups of (up to 8) people. Interstellar Explorations and Moon Adventure are best suited for kids ages 8 and up. The activities are free with museum admission, but space is limited so be sure to register to save your spot!

For the Grown-Ups

Ritual, a cozy metaphysical shop bursting at the seams with crystals and gems, walls full of tarot decks and new-age books, canisters of ethically sourced herbs and potions, and handmade witchy wares by local artists, is also the host to otherworldly classes and events on a regular basis, and April vacation week is no exception. Visit the events calendar on their website or visit the Facebook page and sign up to nourish your chakras with Energy Healing or get a glimpse into your soul with private psychic or tarot readings. Learn to develop your own mediumship skills or get your Reiki Attunement and Certification.

The Music Room Gallery & Wine Bar claims to combine “a wild passion for music of all genres,” and invites us to “soak in fine art, fine wines, and rare craft beers with an infusion of the creative magic that lives only with live performances.”  Join an event at the West Yarmouth’s own  Music Room and enjoy craft beers, craft cocktails, and wines while attending an open mike with Jason Violette & Friends, or live shows by teenaged prodigy and piano player Veronica Lewis, The Empty Pockets, and more!

For the Whole Family

Taylor-Bray Farm tucked away just off 6A in Yarmouth Port, is considered a local gem to nature lovers and families with kids, and is home to goats, donkeys, sheep, and chickens. Among the animals, you may meet is Chloe, a magnificent Scottish Highland Cow who can often be found lazing about in the pasture.  A boardwalk leads into Black Flats Marsh where generations of osprey have nested on the platform 100 miles north, and then you can enjoy a short walk with the kids along the Don McIntyre Trail.  The website boasts amazing recent archaeological evidence that the area has been “seasonally inhabited for as long as 10,000 years! The barn is currently under renovation, and they ask that visitors park in the area near the farmhouse to avoid the work area. There is a farm store on location offering clothing and hats, shopping bags, prints, and stickers. There are no fees at the farm but donations are greatly appreciated. Taylor-Bray Farm is located at 108 Bray Farm Road North, Yarmouth Port, MA, and is open “daily from dawn to dusk.”

Whydah Pirate Museum boasts the “largest collection of pirate artifacts recovered from a single shipwreck anywhere in the world!” Open Friday-Sunday from 11 am – 4 pm, (last admission at 3), guests are invited to survey the museum’s multiple exhibit wings and explore the “world’s first discovered pirate ship” as hundreds of thousands of patrons have since its opening its doors in 2016. This family fun event is rich with history and will captivate peg-legged parrot lovers of all ages. Make sure to check out the treasures in the gift shop, and make off with pirate booty of your own! Walk-ins are welcome, but entry tickets can be purchased in advance online or by calling the box office at 508-534-9571.

Ten Pin Eatery, located in the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, is a favorite spot for kids and adults of all ages. Open 7 days a week until midnight, it is the perfect way to spend a vacation day when the no-school honeymoon period winds down and boredom begins to take root in restless children. Choose from a riveting game of laser tag, bowling, virtual reality, escape rooms, or spend some time in the arcade. With a full-service restaurant and bar on-premises, there is something for the whole family.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Another Cape Cod Spring Has Arrived

Finally. At long last the lingering, biting Cape Cod winter is breaking into Spring. The final crests of snow have melted away to reveal the stretch and yawn of the first crocuses, and the impatient shoots of eager daffodils. The Spring Peepers can be heard in the bogs and marshes, the Ospreys have returned to their platforms to nest, and the local gardeners have thumbs that are growing greener with each passing mild day. So many of us are itching to get outside and rake the leaves, amend our soils, and stock our greenhouses. Novice gardeners or those who are new to Cape have a lot of things to consider, especially with botanical projects that can take months of love and attention to detail before the gorgeous and often delicious payoff. Seasoned growers will advise utilizing native plants whenever possible, that are cold hardy and appreciative of our sandy soil and local pollinators, but even experienced gardeners will benefit from up-to-date information as standards and recommendations develop over time. C.L. Fornari is a gardening guru residing in Sandwich, co-host of Plantrama podcast, and author of several books about gardening on Cape Cod, and when asked to share her expertise she was happy to oblige.

When Fornari moved to the Cape in 1993 she was unable to find a book about Cape Cod gardening, so she wrote it herself. She has since written several books about gardening on Cape Cod, with her book Sand and Soil being the most recent. She goes on to explain how local gardening standards have changed significantly in the past 30ish years since her first Cape gardening book was published in the mid-90s. “The plants that we thought were great at that time have proven to be not so desirable. Some plants that were commonly sold at that time are now “banned in Boston” (and the rest of the Commonwealth) because they are invasive. And there are new pests, diseases, and plants that people should know about. It was for those reasons and more that I wrote a new book about Cape Cod gardening and didn’t just update the original one.”

Leave the Leaves?

While we may be ready to banish the leaf piles from our flowerbeds, Mother Nature has other ideas. The leaves that have been insulating our lawns and Spring bulbs all winter have also been providing shelter for overwintering bees and butterflies, and although the sight of tulip leaves peeking through the crisp remnants of fall is enough to have us reaching for the rake, we of course also want to be mindful of the sleepy pollinators who are about to once again embark upon the priceless work that our very existence depends on. What are we to do?

Fornari answers, “This question is a great example of how standard landscaping practices have changed in the past ten years, and how we’re all called to be more flexible in our thinking.  Back in the day, we did a “fall clean up” and a “spring cleanup.” All the leaves were removed in those clean-sweeps, and usually (horrors!) removed from the property. Now we know better about the value of leaves for plants and pollinators. But it’s not either or.” She tells us that although you’ll see posts talking about waiting to clean up a garden until temperatures are above 50, there is no hard science behind that number. “Homeowners need to know that it’s not all or nothing. You can remove some leaves anytime, take others out in May, and leave some in place as Nature intended.”

When it comes to amending soil, Fornari contends that we should never assume that our soil needs improving, pointing out the thousands of mosses, trees, and all the plants in between that thrive comfortably without help. She recommends grouping plants that we know have soil requirements, (using Hydrangeas as an example), in areas where we can amend the soil from the top-down, adding “Soil ‘improvement’ practices have changed in the past twenty years. We know now that tilling, digging, and replacing native soils should be avoided whenever possible.”

Gardens this time of year tend to be limited to early perennials including favorites like basket-of-gold and bleeding heart, so Fornari suggests adding pansies to your space for a burst of color and a touch of cheer.

The Green Spot Opens for Business

Pansies are what Jim Behnke, owner of The Green Spot Garden Center, says are his biggest seller this time of year. The 4 decades-old family-owned garden center opened for the season on March 21st and has a nursery and 2 greenhouses on-site in addition to a full line of annuals, perennials, roses, shrubs, and trees. Jim looks forward to seeing early patrons popping in for seed starters and specialty soils, and to check out the annual specials of things like Miracle Grow and Hollytone. They have onions and garlic in stock, followed soon by cold-loving plants like lettuce and broccoli, and a few weeks after that, potato seedlings. For those of us rushing to get started on our veggie gardens, Jim warns not so fast. “The biggest thing you have to pay attention to is weather,” he cautions, mentioning that it won’t be time to get many crops in the ground until up to May and June in some cases. “Sometimes you gotta pinch yourself and remember to be patient.”

The Green Spot is located at 1085 Route 28 in South Yarmouth and is open seven days a week from 9-5.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Lights Bring Holiday Glow to Streets of Yarmouth

They start before Thanksgiving — taking inventory, checking extension cords, and restocking their supply of blinking LEDs, light-up candy canes, and remote-controlled inflatables. Then, when it’s turkey sandwich time, the work begins in earnest — stringing icicle lights, wrapping strands of white-and-crimson LEDs around tree trunks, and wiring outdoor speakers to fill the darkness with holiday music. As they toil, they wave at passers-by, who honk their horns because they know what’s coming in the nights to follow.

Melanie Corso’s house

These are the light-makers. The ornament people. The Christmas decoration devotees.  And now that the darkest weeks of the year have arrived, it’s time to get out and enjoy their efforts. So, make yourself a Thermos bottle of cocoa, maybe with a splash of peppermint. Put on your favorite Christmas music. Pack the kids and friends into the SUV and venture through the darkness … just to see the lights.

Melanie Corso’s flamboyantly decorated home in Yarmouth Port is typical of the extravagant effort that homeowners put forth each year.

She starts around Thanksgiving, with help from her daughter, son-in-law, and son. They spread out inflatable snowmen, reindeer, and puppies — some of them up to 12 feet tall. They unravel extension cords and test the capacity of every outlet. And they string up endless cords of colored lights.

The team effort takes about six hours a day for four days, she said. But the result is more than worth the effort.

Her Cape-style home at the corner of Setucket Road and Trophy Lane is ablaze each night, and passing cars slow down to admire the display. Illuminated candy-canes line the driveway; a giant puppy wags its tail, while another swivels its head inside a decorated doghouse; rainbow-colored icicle lights hang from the trees, and a team of reindeer pulls against the weight of Santa’s sleigh.

Melanie tells the story of a recent visit after she came home from work:

“My doorbell rang, and so I got up,” she said. At the door, she was confronted by a young boy — maybe 9 or 10 years old — who looked like he could have been raising money for a local charity. So, she went out on the porch to talk.

“It was the sweetest thing,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I just thought I’d tell you that I love your Christmas lights. They’re awesome.’”

It was just a boy and his friend on bicycles, she said. “But that meant the world to me.”

Throughout the holiday season, visitors stop in their cars to admire the Corso home, which isn’t far from a bike path where people sometimes pause. Or they drive around the corner to view the displays from every angle, she said.

“We’ve had grandparents pushing strollers with kids coming up and just enjoying the lights,” she explained. “And that’s what makes me happy.”

Melanie said she and her now-adult adult children still drive around to admire the lights of others, and so four years ago, her daughter, Becky Reed, started the Christmas Lights of Cape Cod Facebook group. The myriad videos and photos posted on the site attest to the artistry of holiday light-stringers from Bourne to Provincetown. The site also includes information and links to holiday decorating competitions and light-tour maps.

The group has grown to nearly 2,000 members, posting and commenting on displays in Yarmouth, Mashpee, Falmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Eastham, and other Cape communities. Of course, her own house on Trophy Lane occupies the page’s coveted cover spot.

A few recommendations: A friend of Melanie’s in Dennis has a house on Route 28 with lights that sync to FM radio for a multimedia show. There’s also a home on Icehouse Road that’s a perennial favorite. Adam Long’s residence on Powhatan Road in Yarmouth is another dazzling spot that was featured in last year’s holiday lights blog. And there are so many others in the posts and comments by members of the group.

LEDs IN HIGH DEMAND, HOLIDAY SPIRIT ABOUNDS

At the Anchor Ace Hardware Store on Route 28 in South Yarmouth, manager Jim MacNaught says sales of holiday lights are brisk this year — unlike the balmy late-autumn weather in November and early December. The warm autumn is one of the reasons why so many people have put up extravagant displays this season, he surmises. Temperatures rising into the 60s allowed homeowners to work outdoors for extended days.

The ongoing stay-at-home trend experienced throughout the pandemic has also played a role, as more people turned their attention to decorating. McNaught and others say there was a noticeable surge in holiday lighting last year. And this year, even before the Christmas decorations were pulled out of storage, yards were glowing with sculptures, LEDs, and inflatable figures for Halloween. Anchor Ace doesn’t stock inflatables, McNaught said. But lights — especially the energy-efficient LEDs — have been extremely popular.

Ace sold much of its holiday lighting inventory last year, and McNaught says he has worked hard to meet the demand this season, despite occasional supply-chain issues. In addition to selling lights, he’s seen plenty of them in breathtaking displays at homes around the mid-Cape area. And amid the hardships of COVID-19, people are looking for cheer and reaching out to help others.

He noted a moving story from the 2020 Christmas season when a customer secretly gifted one of his employee’s money for a brand-new electric bicycle. The longtime store worker, Raymond Best, was known for his unwavering kindness, as much as for pedaling 40-miles each day to and from his home in Mashpee — through the rain and snow and summer heat.

The anonymous gift was documented in “The Gift,” a YouTube video that MacNaught describes as a heart-warming turn on the seasonal customer service story. Usually, the holidays are defined by what the store’s staff can do for the community, he said. “But this was a case of the community doing something for us.”

The holiday season is all about bringing joy to others. And some do that with gifts, while others spread goodwill by lighting their homes for everyone to enjoy.

Most homeowners keep their displays intact well into the new year, so if you’re looking for a dazzling nighttime drive, there’s plenty of time to get out and see the lights.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author and freelance writer and editor.)