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All About Irene

August 30, 2011 by Beth Colt

View from the second floor of the Inn, looking toward Juniper Point in the rainiest part of the storm.

Sunday is already a bit of a blur for me.  Mix exhaustion with adrenaline and too much caffeine and you get a solid forget-me drug.  I know I made it to the Inn to help with breakfast and there was a large crowd there enjoying the meal after several successful weddings (yes, we had guests with us attending THREE different Woods Hole affairs).

It was rainy, grey, still so very hot the air thick like in a movie but everything seemed normal — hot coffee flowing, baked goods fresh from the oven, halogen cutting the flat grey from outside.    Then the electricity flickered and died.  Wow, everyone could use a little makeup in the light of those camping lanterns.

By late morning, the wind was really howling, screaming into Woods Hole’s Great Harbor and the tide was high, lapping at the tops of the docks.  The Martha’s Vineyard ferries were bobbing visibly on the piers outside our windows.  Salt spray was washing over the building, covering the plants whipping in the 40-50 MPH winds.

Inside, many went back to bed, lulled to sleep by the roar of the winds and the dark light.  A group from one of the weddings gathered to watch a ten-month old baby crawl across the king size bed.  Little Susannah was adorable but I bet if the TV had been on with weather news, that would never have happened.  Someone broke out the Jenga and played a few distracted rounds before moving back to the hot tea and cookies.  Even the Sunday New York Times held little appeal — it was yesterday’s news and we were in the middle of the story of the week.  There really was nothing to do but wait it out.

By mid afternoon, it seemed to be tapering a bit.  It never hit the intensity of my memory of Hurricane Bob where the scream of the wind put your teeth on edge and the curvature of the glass windows threatened to bring the storm inside.  It didn’t rain a lot, which is a blessing as I watched roof tile whip past me to the street half the morning.  For us, several hundred miles from the eye, Irene was downgraded to a “tropical storm” and she was an entertaining but well-behaved actress, like a burlesque dancer from the roaring 1920’s (Irene) compared to a stripper on the “Sopranos.” (a stripper named Bob?  I guess on the Sopranos…)

I wandered out in the car.   The surf on Nobska Beach was intense, really churning in a way that we never see in Vineyard Sound (protected from the prevailing winds by Martha’s Vineyard.)  There was this bright yellow foam whipping off the top of the waves and oozing over the road in strips.  I heard that Surf Drive was impassable, covered with drifts of sand and seawater.  When I ventured from the car I felt small and vulnerable, the sound of the wind an overwhelming roar, and I struggled to keep my balance.

Crazy people frolic in the dangerous surf of Irene.

On the way home, I saw a power line bucking and sparking by the Sands of Time.  I later heard that when NStar tried to put our grid back online there was an explosion in a local house, burning it to the ground.  Terrible.  I hurried home, made a light dinner and collapsed.

Then it was just over.  A gorgeous day today, sunny and cool, the taste of fall in the air.  Except for the downed branches and the unusual smell of fresh green crushed leaves, you would never know there had been a storm.  The ducks were out on their favorite little dock, the only difference that a summer’s worth of duck poop was miraculously gone, fresh scrubbed, as if it was made new by some magic cobblers in the night.    I marveled at the small brown birds – so resilient! Where did they hide in all that wind?

Up way too early, I conquered the Inn’s generator system, managing to make warmish showers, hot coffee and freshly baked croissants with one plug and five gallons of gas.  I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with myself as mechanical tasks are amongst my most dreaded, and generally least successful.  Charlene took the sheets into Falmouth (can you say laundromat?) and Amanda and I cleaned rooms with brooms, dustpans and rags.  By three pm, we were still without power but miraculously ready to check in new guests.  We even managed a new batch of cookies.

When NStar showed up on the pole right outside the front door of the Inn I knew we were close.  Power was restored about 5.30 pm, my trusty generator put away for another day.  Irene was relatively sweet to us.  We we ready for worse, but so lucky we only got her simple side.  Our hearts go out to others out there not so lucky. We know first hand how scary it can be.  Now I hear there is a new tropical depression brewing out there…so we take our experience from this one and we wait for another battle.   Next time, less florescent camping lanterns and more battery operated candles!  I am gonna need that forgiving faux flicker to weather the next one.

June is for Weddings

June 17, 2011 by Beth Colt

The produce, finally fresh. The sun, steadily shining. The weight of school children’s daily burden, graciously lifted. June is a month understandably adored.  And June, throughout centuries of folklore and more modern tradition, is the month for weddings.

In Roman myth, the month of June was thought to be lucky for marriage because its namesake, the goddess Juno, represented women and love.  And this past June weekend, the Woods Hole Inn played host to a wedding party, with the bride Meg effusing goddess qualities all her own, rain or shine.

Despite an uncharacteristically gray June morning, the bridesmaids started the day early (post-gourmet continental breakfast, of course) with smiles and a garment steamer.

And with the sight of tulle and the smell of hairspray wafting through the halls of our historic inn, the anticipation grew throughout the morning.

And then the wedding dress was revealed.

And though the gray skies opened into gray showers, the bridal party remained cheerful and calm.

And preparations for the lovely event that was to be held rain or shine at Woods Hole’s own Nobska Lighthouse continued.

Along with a few last-minute dress alterations.

Once the bride was dressed, the troops were rallied.

And after last minute touch ups…

it was bridal party portrait time.

For as soon as the rain let up, it was time to say goodbye.

Or perhaps hello, as these sort of life events seem to lend themselves.

We wish Meg & Mike the best of luck on their new adventure. We are confident that the blessings of a joyful smile on a cloudy day will fill their lives together with genuine happiness.

Wedding Virgins

May 23, 2011 by Beth Colt

A glorious May day for wedding in Woods Hole.

A glorious May day for a wedding ceremony in the middle of Woods Hole.

We have hosted countless bridal brunches, catered many bridesmaids luncheons and launched quite a number of rehearsal dinners.  Offering the accommodations for the bridal party, or the extended family of the groom?  Done that many times over.   But with only room for about 70 guests in the waterview terrace, I will be the first to admit that the Woods Hole Inn was a wedding ceremony virgin.

All that changed this Friday with the glorious nuptials of Kim and Jason.

It rained all week, cloudy, foggy, overcast and no glimmer of sunshine recorded in the three day advance forecast.  Oh dear, I thought, we should have insisted on a tent!  But I knew that tenting the garden would ruin that feeling of endless sky, and mute the Cape light to something diffused and ordinary.  Kim and Jason agreed, and they were willing to risk cramming everyone inside in case of a downpour.  Amazingly, and despite all prognostications, the day emerged with only a light fog shimmering on the harbor, melting off the Passage with an early morning sun.  By afternoon, it was the first hot day of the spring.  It was also the weekend of the much publicized “Rapture.”  When we made it to late afternoon Friday with no rain, I thought, there is a God.

Kim and Jason were staying in room 5, with friends and family surrounding them in every room of the house.  Sara baked all day to prepare special wedding breakfasts and the smells of fresh baked pound cake mingled with the bacon and roasted asparagus for the over-stuffed quiches.  We scrubbed and strategized, weeded the garden and swept the back corners of all the porches,  even dusted off our radio kits to make sure communication would be seamless during the ceremony.  Extra valets were on hand, and a team of extra servers from Quicks Hole to assure that every detail went off without a hitch.

At the appointed hour, all the guests hushed and gathered in front of the harbor, with Jason waiting for her in his signature green pants, Kim peeked out of room 6, giggled with the flower girls and kissed her father.  Gripping his arm, they walked down the driveway to emerge in the late afternoon Cape light.  She seemed to glide across the sandy terrace, up onto a modest platform where they embraced tenderly, a ferry boat headed to the Vineyard pulling out of the slip as if on cue as the ceremony commenced.  I was hiding in the back with my camera and captured their altar embrace, his eyes closed, lips pressed to her forehead.

First embrace on the altar set up in the garden of the Woods Hole Inn on a May weekend.

Flower girls at a May wedding in Woods Hole.

Guests squeezed each others hands as vows were exchanged, a harpist perched in the shade on the deck punctuating the moment with her soft plucking.  The best man expressed his love for the couple along with prayers for a wonderful long life together.  And then it was done!

Champagne and freshly shucked local oysters, fresh lobster crostini with sweet pea garnish and snow peas piped with herbed cream cheese appeared on platters.  Pitchers of cool Cape Cod beer, the IPA and the Blonde.  Glasses of Chardonnay to toast the newlyweds, extra bottled water for the little ones.

All in all, a wonderful afternoon for the Woods Hole Inn — wedding virgins no more!  A special thanks to Kim and Jason for sharing their big day with us.  May the blessings of a sunny day on Cape Cod be in their hearts forever.

Lobster crostini and snow peas with herbed cream cheese from Quicks Hole.

A very special day at the Woods Hole Inn.

Busy bridal weekend at The Woods Hole Inn

July 1, 2010 by Beth Colt

I was so thrilled to catch this glimpse of the bride perparing at Woods Hole Inn.

There’s no better way to spend a bridal weekend than at The Woods Hole Inn! Last weekend we had brides galore preparing and honeymooning with us. It felt like a scene out of “Philadelphia Story” with boxes full of beautiful hydrangea and lilies bouquets delivered to our front desk.

Surrounded with smiling friends and family, several bottles of hairspray and two very busy makeup artists, the bride in Room 5 glowed as her mother whispered “Good luck.” We were lucky to get a few snapshots while she was getting ready. I loved the peek-a-boo through one of our vintage screens.

We also had a honeymooning couple who celebrated all evening and collapsed here for their first night as Mr. and Mrs. They enjoyed Sara’s French toast bread pudding, strawberries, blueberries and several cups of strong coffee in the morning. Good luck and come back next year!

What a fun weekend to have celebrating guests occupying almost every room. We love hosting wedding parties here at the inn and cannot wait for our next batch of brides to roll in! (…Like tomorrow!)

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