Singing to God: The History of Gospel Music with Robert Wyatt

August 1, 2015 by Beth Colt

Although the first published use of the term “Gospel Song” appeared in the 1870s, gospel music in the United States can be traced back to the early 17th century. With African-American slaves working in the field daily, a call and response form arose and it was passed along through generations as an oral tradition.

call, 508-495-1878, ext. 2 or reserve tickets online here

Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast at Peg Noonan Park

July 8, 2015 by Beth Colt

Come watch family friendly movies projected over Peg Noonan Park each Wednesday, in the historic downtown Falmouth area.  Grab dinner and some ice cream, and sit back to relax in the festive main street atmosphere.  Chairs or blankets recommended. Begins at dusk.

Jamaican Grill Night at Coonamessett Farm

July 1, 2015 by Beth Colt

Feast on a fine Jamaican buffet of locally produced food, in the Cape Cod night air, while listening to the upbeat sounds of steel drum music by Vernon.  Explore the beautiful grounds of Coonamessett Farm complete with Alpacas and countless rows of delicious veggies.

Wednesday Evenings through September 16th

5 – 8 pm



CF Caesar
Jamaican Tossed
Spanish Town Style Potato
Millie’s Cucumber
Tropical Fruit
Rasta  Pasta
Jalapeno Cornbread
One Down Soup 

Curried Goat
Seasoned Rice and Peas
Fried Plantains
Festival Dumplings
Corn on the Cob

Batata  Pudding

From-the-grill:  Jerk Chicken and Pork with fresh fruit salsa

Iced Tea and Damian’s Elixir!
Farm Members: Adults, $21.95
Non-Farm Members: Adults, $24.95
Children 4 to 9 yrs old: $12.95
Children 3 yrs old or less: Free
All prices are subject to a 7% Mass meal

Robert Luddington: Interior Design for the Kennedys

June 30, 2015 by Beth Colt

Presented in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation, Inc.

Mr. Robert Luddington, decorator to the Kennedy family,  will present his new book,  Private Collection, Robert Luddington, Kennedy Main House 1957-1960. The images of the decorated rooms, fabric and details in this book are from Mr. Luddington’s private collection. He still works as a design consultant to members of the Kennedy family in Hyannis Port.

The home of Rose and Joe Kennedy was in many ways the home of the entire Kennedy clan. From family celebrations to family tragedies, the big house was the center of their lives. During the Kennedy presidency it was also the site of important government meeting with both national and foreign dignitaries. Robert Luddington captures these important photos of the main house.

Register on-line or call, 508-495-1878, ext. 2


June 24, 2015 by Beth Colt

Feast on a fine Jamaican buffet of locally produced food, in the Cape Cod night air, while listening to the upbeat sounds of steel drum music by Vernon.  Explore the beautiful grounds of Coonamessett Farm complete with Alpacas and countless rows of delicious veggies.

Wednesday Evenings through September 16th

5 – 8 pm



CF Caesar
Jamaican Tossed
Spanish Town Style Potato
Millie’s Cucumber
Tropical Fruit
Rasta  Pasta
Jalapeno Cornbread
One Down Soup 

Curried Goat
Seasoned Rice and Peas
Fried Plantains
Festival Dumplings
Corn on the Cob

Batata  Pudding

From-the-grill:  Jerk Chicken and Pork with fresh fruit salsa

Iced Tea and Damian’s Elixir!
Farm Members: Adults, $21.95
Non-Farm Members: Adults, $24.95
Children 4 to 9 yrs old: $12.95
Children 3 yrs old or less: Free
All prices are subject to a 7% Mass meal tax

Barnstable Harbor Cape Cod Ecotour

June 16, 2015 by Beth Colt

Cape Cod has so many great places to explore, but my friend Bonny and I were looking for something that could be described as a Cape Cod ecotour — you know, a fun day in the sun with a little learning and an eco twist.

Enter Captain Joe, who along with his staff at Barnstable Harbor Eco-Tours, offers a leisurely cruise around the harbor aboard a charming pontoon boat called The Horseshoe Crab.  Packed with a wealth of interesting information about the history of the harbor and natural life, the tour was guided by expert naturalist Phil Kyle. Bonny and I really enjoyed Phil’s enthusiasm for history, especially his tales about the Prohibition-era rum running from this storied harbor.

Sam and Bonny ready for the tour aboard the Horseshoe Crab

Barnstable Harbor itself is gorgeous, well worth the trip. On one side it is bordered by the white gold dunes of Sandy Neck Beach, a six mile long barrier beach, and on another there is a large field of marshland which draws myriad species of shorebirds which we learned about from Phil.  Sandy Neck Light

Might not sound much like a Cape Cod ecotour, but the best of the day was views of the Cottage Colony at the very end of Sandy Neck Beach. The Cottage Colony is home to a collection of beautiful beach cottages as well as Sandy Neck Light – a picturesque lighthouse marking the end of the peninsula. The cottages are in the historic district of the peninsula and most are more than 100 years old. As the boat neared the Colony it appeared we were visiting an idyllic little seaside kingdom, best captured from a boat.

Sandy Neck Point

There were many opportunities to take photos of the harbor and I couldn’t help snapping a couple gorgeous shots for my Instagram, and I thought about coming back another day and exploring Sandy Neck on foot to see more of this stunning harbor and unique ecosystem system from the land.  Well, there is always next year.


Buoy returning to Barnstable Harbor

Barnstable Harbor is approximately a 50 minute drive from the Woods Hole Inn. Tours last about 2 hours and are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Woods Hole Inn concierge staff would be happy to assist guests in scheduling a day like this one on Barnstable Harbor.  Or call Captain Joe @ 508.221.6162 for more information or to schedule your Cape Cod ecotour – what a great way to spend the day exploring Cape Cod!  — from guest blogger Sam Frawley

Captain Joe, Phil Kyle, and the Horseshoe Crab

The Titans IV- Cape Symphony Orchestra

June 6, 2015 by Beth Colt

Be among the first to hear Nth Degree, Cape Symphony’s new force in chamber music. Jae Cosmos Lee, our Concertmaster, directs this exciting new group which features our incredibly talented Principals and some special guest artists we can’t wait for you to meet. Each concert in this four-part series brings you a different piece from three undisputable geniuses: Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. Playing the music of the Titans is like stepping inside a Rolex watch, a world of precision, intrigue and beauty.The repertoire we’ve chosen for this series is purposely eclectic. Some pieces were commissioned. Several had a muse in mind. Many were genuine works of inspiration. Each one shows another facet of the composers’ brilliance through different instrumental configurations. Each one exposes the talent and range of the Symphony musicians in a way you’ve never heard before. Each one has a story to tell. That’s why we’ve chosen the setting as carefully as the music. Intimate. So we can talk, share and really get to know the music – and each other – before, during and after the concert. Interesting pairings. Interesting people. All the ingredients for a very entertaining evening. Come play with us.

Beethoven Serenade for String Trio, op. 8
Jae Cosmos Lee, Violin
TBA, Viola
Bo Ericsson, Cello

Mozart Piano Trio in B-flat major
Jae Cosmos Lee, Violin
Bo Ericsson, Cello
Donald Enos, Piano

Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, op. 25
Jae Cosmos Lee, Violin
TBA, Viola
Bo Ericsson, Cello
Donald Enos, Piano

Ticket Price – $35 General Admission

Held at –
Falmouth Academy
7 Highfield Drive
Falmouth, MA 02540

Fabulous Fourth of July

July 9, 2012 by Beth Colt

Greatest parade on Cape Cod.

Fourth of July in Woods Hole is like marine biology Halloween — students from all the local laboratories pour into the streets dressed in patriotic costumes with a science theme.  This is your chance to see PhD graduate students clad in balloons, clustered like sporozites or bearded like “G-nomes.”

I love this parade with all it’s quirky glory.  Where else would you see blow-up Santa’s with “Year Round Jobs Wanted” signs walking next to the buxom “Brazen Belles,” a local burlesque show.

Lively entertainment in Woods Hole on Cape Cod.

Or the Ward family in an Italian surrey celebrating 55-years in Woods Hole?

Cape Cod family at the Fourth of July parade.

Even the sidelines are a visual treat, with freckle-faced little boys sucking bright red lobster barley pops and grandmothers sporting red, white and blue t-shirts and vigorously waving their flags?

Here are the photos that tell the whole tale, from the dancing lobsters to the vintage American flags.  All I missed was the water balloon fight at the end, where as I heard it told, a near-riot broke out and a local police officer called for backup after the science students continued peppering him with balloons and laughter.

Vintage Restoration

March 12, 2012 by Beth Colt

View into Great Harbor Woods Hole from the town dock, winter sunset 2012.

The winter months pass faster than you  might imagine, as you count the days for Cape Cod summer to return.  The sunsets are glamorous and this winter has been unusually warm — a mixed blessing for those of us so close to sea level.  If global warming is for real, then we are looking into the maw of the beast.  The silver lining? The mild weather makes it easier to dash out at sunset and catch this kind of panorama.

Construction continues at the Woods Hole Inn.  The second floor, where the new guest rooms are located, is almost done.  This week they put the finish paint on, and next week will be consumed with refinishing the amazing original hardwood floors.  Radiators went back in, the old school cast iron kind, and french doors were hung on the doors to the decks.  Deck railing comes next week as well.

On the third floor, where the staff of the Inn will live soon enough, the drywall and plastering is complete and carpenters are putting the trim on the windows and molding along the floor boards.  Sadly, the old wood floors up there were trashed, a cruel fate required for structural reasons by the Falmouth building department.  In it’s place, the sustainable cork tiles will look modern and clean.  The shapes of the rooms can finally be seen fully, and it’s odd to have such an intimate memory of the bones underneath the skin of the walls.

We are ordering a special wallpaper for the front hall, made from the piles of 1946-era check in cards we found stashed in the attic.  I am confident that it will look graphic and interesting, and also delight those who want to reminisce about Mrs Josiah Smith of Vineyard Haven who stayed at the inn in 1946 for $3 per night.  In addition, I found two incredible Russian ship lanterns, galvanized metal with red paint and old marine glass.  I am having them made into lights for the front porch.  You will tell me if you think they make the right “vintage restored” statement when they are finally hung in place.

I took my copy of building plans and wrote a love note to the person who will unearth all our work 50 years from now.  I tried to express the joy I found in the doing, but I secretly hope they will know my passions from the lines of the house before they ever find my rushed scribbles.

A few images for you:

Stairs in the Woods Hole Inn, under construction winter 2012.

View from the top of the stairs looking down.  The splattered wood you see in the middle will be removed so that you can experience three stories in the entrance.  These are the walls that will be wall-papered with the check in cards from 1946.

Amazing living room at the top of the Woods Hole Inn, under construction 2012.

Top floor, a lovely living room with private balcony and views to Martha’s Vineyard.  Grey from the fresh plaster, this will be painted white and all trimmed out.

Fresh plaster in the living room atop the Woods Hole Inn, Cape Cod MA

Another view of the same room, the light streaming in from the side of the building that faces the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.

Vintage restored floors in all new bathrooms at the Woods Hole Inn, March 2012.

New bathrooms with combo shower-tubs and the vintage floors brought back to their pre-paint glory.

Restored cast iron tib, wainscotting and Cape light combine at the Woods Hole Inn, under construction March 2012.

Cast iron tubs came from the tub doctor in New Bedford.  They look happy to be out of the showroom and back in the action.

Nobska Light from the water on an incredible summer's day.

Finally, the perfect image of the summer coming, from my friend Denise at the Sippewissett Campgrounds.  This is what we are all waiting for.  Thank you for sharing this, Denise — Nobska Lighthouse on an incredible summer day.

I can’t wait to be out on my boat looking up at that lighthouse, waiting for the fireflies to come out, basking in the last light of the day as the sun sets over Vineyard Sound.  See you all this summer.

A Walk in Beebe Woods

February 12, 2012 by Beth Colt

Walking the Cape Cod woods in winter is a special treat, especially after a light dusting of snow. The jewel in Falmouth’s crown of conservation land is a 300+ acre property called Beebe Woods, which astounds the visitor with ponds, paths, ridges, hidden stone walls and wildlife.  I wandered there for several hours yesterday, seeing few other people and enjoying the way the new snow makes the woods come alive with color.

Despite the low cloud cover, everything was aglow — the rusty colored pine needles lining the paths, dark roots growing over lichen covered rocks, sand pocked with footprints from deer and coyotes, slippery patches of swamp-mud and the flat black surface of the icy ponds.  We spent two hours exploring and never crossed our own path — from Ter Heune Drive (near the hospital) clear across to Peterson Farm with its wide open meadows, from a high ridge path fit for mountain goats to the edge of Ice House pond near Sippewissett Road and the perimeter of the Punch Bowl, another incredible kettle hole pond.

This refuge, a sanctuary in the Walden Pond vernacular, is an incredible asset to the town of Falmouth and it’s many visitors.  Here, you can visit the high church of nature and commune on your own with a spirituality that soars through the high tree cover like a red-tailed hawk hunting voles (which you may well see on your journey).  Moving though this landscape in silence — listening to the crunch of boots on thin snow, scanning the hilltops for deer or fox — erases your everyday woes, De-fragging the hard-drive of your barnacle-crusted brain.

Tracing the old stone walls, green with lichen and frosted with snow, made me think of the early settlers who spent decades hand-digging rocks from the sandy soil and marking the boundaries of their primitive homesteads.  How must they have felt, looking at these hard-earned walls?

Here are a few things I saw along the way:

Peterson Farm, birdhouse, winter

Bird houses covered with lichen…

Lichen covered stone wall in snow, New England.

Old stone walls nestled between decades of un-raked leaves and fallen limbs…

walking on Cape Cod in winter

Sandy soil paths, roots exposed when worn by thousands of walking visitors like me…

Falmouth Mass, walking in winter, snow

The icy black water of the Punch Bowl… no swimming today.

For a map and more information about this astounding resource, read more about the 300 Committee here.  Without the vision and generosity of a few local leaders, this land would have been developed into cul-de-sacs with matching mailboxes and over 500 cookie-cutter homes.   Forever insuring that this land is available for wildlife and the appreciation of nature, the 300 Committee is to be commended for all their efforts — my appreciative donation is in the mail.  And I encourage all visitors to the Woods Hole Inn to explore this unique spot in any season.   Ask us for the map at the front desk.

The Journey is Half the Fun

January 19, 2012 by Beth Colt

Vintage restored bathtubs headed soon to the Woods Hole Inn.

Figuring out how to restore stuff from a creaky old house is complicated.  Who can bring these aging beauties back to life?  Where do you have to go to find old-world craftsmen?  Who cares about worn and antique stuff anymore?

I am headed down to New Bedford to the workshop of the “Tub Doctor” this week.  For $500, the doctor will re-porcelain your worn cast iron tub, and sandblast the exterior to ready it for paint of any color.  He is a colorful fellow, the Tub Doctor, and you will learn all about his life when you visit him.  He prefers black feet on the tub to chrome, he wishes that women were more faithful, and he is looking for investors in a new business idea that will double your money in less than three months.  I am resisting calling his eccentric conversation style over-sharing…. how about peppered with interesting and specific information.

Just finding the studio is intense.  Imagine a series of abandoned brick factory buildings, sprawling over acres of empty asphalt behind chain link and razor wire with an old wooden door that might be in a travel blog about Moldova or Croatia.

The workshop is set in the middle of the largely-abandoned mill compound, and this section is littered with debris, broken tile, odd concrete.  When they say New Bedford never recovered from the collapse of the Industrial Revolution, they are talking about places like this.

On the inside, vast chambers disappear as far as the eye can see and you can feel the spirit of the mill girls from the 1890’s, giggling and laughing at their sewing tables, even in today’s dank and empty silence.

Once you get into the  Tub Doctor’s lair the heat is on, a radio plays and the smell of cigarettes mixed with paint fumes makes you feel like you are back in the 21st century.  The Doctor is friendly and chatty, telling me about his baby, his son’s landlord and the price of the lunch he plans to eat later today.

We debate the cast iron tub feet and I defer to his taste about the chrome  — never looks good,  he tells me,  chrome paint just looks like chrome paint.  I like how the feet look like chess pieces, pawns clustered in a corner for safety.  Maybe the ghostly mill girls play with them after dark, I think to myself.

I pay him cheerily, genuinely happy to have stumbled upon this odd corner of the world.  I look forward to seeing him again when he delivers the final product to the Woods Hole Inn in a month or so. I drive out of the compound, back in the sharp winter sunshine, and smile.

You can find the old tubs plus the Tub Doctor yourself by calling New England Demo and Storage.   Leave a little extra time for the stories, because let’s face it … the journey is half the fun.

The Roof Comes Off…

November 21, 2011 by Beth Colt

Work continues at the Inn at a breakneck pace, as both my contractor and I are eager to get the place sealed up before the real cold socks in.  The Marvin custom windows take longer than you might think  — now they are saying early December.  Ergh.  But everything else seems to be going well, knock wood.  The weather has obliged, it is still a balmy 50 degrees in the daytime here.  Days are getting shorter and work starts early and finishes at dusk.

The views from the upper floors continue to astound me.  Last week the floors were still open allowing a two story view of the place:

Then in an instant (it seemed) down went the third floor, plus new stairs were installed.  I wasn’t keen on balancing the rafters like the boys, but now I can walk up there.  The structural engineer came by and liked the solid feeling that comes from all this re-enforcement.  “Stiff” he called it, while bouncing a bit on the new plywood.  I guess that’s good.

Today was a bit of a shocker as I arrived mid-morning to the roof open to the sky.   The front dormers had shed roofs added incorrectly decades ago.  No wonder the windows eventually blew out — the structure was totally compromised by hacking the roof rafters.  It had to be completely rebuilt to come up to code.  I guess the good news is that despite the expense, this part of the building will be like new.   OK, not just like new.  Actually ALL new.

It was a bit glower-y and at one point it started to sprinkle, but thankfully the weather report was accurate and there was no real rain.  By late in the afternoon, thanks to a hard-working framing crew, the roof was starting to come back together.  I love the way these guys work in concert, moving around and cooperating with so much grace.  I guess they study the architectural drawings the night before so that there is no time wasted on site.  They have a plan.  Best of all, they seem to always be smiling.  There is a joy in the work, singing and laughing.  I can feel it in the finished product.

And while our crew scurried around on our  little ant-hill, the ferries came and went carrying people to the Vineyard, many of whom didn’t notice that say, the roof is gone from that building over there.  Across the street at the coffee shop, they were serving lattes to customers who heard a bang but had no idea that a room up there was totally exposed to the harbor.   In the laboratories of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (aka “WHOI”) right next door, same thing.  Even my husband, back at his desk, totally unaware.  We are all in our own little worlds… Micro-climates…  Fishbowls…

This blog is about me sharing my small fishbowl with you:)  Happy Thanksgiving!  May your weekend be filled with the joy of a new roof successfully installed on a New England fall day.

If These Walls Could Talk…

October 14, 2011 by Beth Colt

These boots were made for walking...

This week, construction began on the new rooms at the Woods Hole Inn.  With a crew of five demolition experts, the walls came down on the top floor revealing the majesty of a high-ceilinged space with amazing light and great views…when you can see through the construction dust that is.

Franko and the boys arrived Tuesday with crowbars and mallets to pound it out.  Electricians stripped back the wires and a plumber came in to unhook the old claw foot tub.  We pulled as much moulding as we could so we can re-use it as we put the place back together again.

I snuck in the day before they arrived and took some “before” photos.  Inn guests happily ensconced in the lap of luxury two stories below would be shocked by the state of affairs up here.  The windows were blown out and boarded up after various storms years ago.  There was a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, accessed by a barn-like stairway.  One bath for maybe 10 cubby-sized spaces, some only big enough for a bed roll.

I have met a few people who lived up here summers in the 70s and earlier, but I don’t think it has been habitable for maybe thirty years now.   One former waitress at the Landfall told me she paid $25 per week.  Another former resident bragged that a lot of pot was smoked up here, back in the sixties when Woods Hole was a real hippie hang out.

The Woods Hole Inn was more flophouse than eco-destination at that point.  Summer college kids slummed it with the former chauffeurs of Penzance Point estates and other retired alcoholics.  One man told me his mother advised he run past the building, as there were often “unsavory characters” on the front stoop.

Here are a few photos of what it looked like just before the demo crew showed up:

Long narrow corridors painted brown!

Frescoes of peeling wallpaper.

Air conditioners marked "leaks" and an American Flag.

It’s was really hard to photograph because the rooms were small and dark.  We had already done some minor demo three years ago while renovating other parts of the building.  On top of that, it appears that the piles of old air conditioners were mating with the dusty artificial Christmas trees, or something like that.   That the debris was replicating in the dark is the only explanation I can come up for why the junk seemed to grow larger each time I ventured up.

But after three days with a sledgehammer, you could see the old lathe and look through walls to the windows beyond, Cape light streaming in and promising a better future.  Franko told me they had found some really old work boots (see above) and other debris — fell down from the ceilings he said.  A couple of really vintage brandy bottles, a pair of cotton spats with little hooks for covering the calves when riding (?), a tiny wooden sailboat-toy painted a matte blue,  a dusty old stuffed kitty long forgotten by it’s childish master.

Lathe walls revealed when the plaster comes off.

This window has been boarded up for over a decade.

Cape light turns ghostly with the walls all down...

I am working on an exhibit of artifacts to trace the history of the inn.  Any input from people who know more than I do would be greatly appreciated.  The final will be on display in the lobby next summer so come take a look.  And come back to this blog for more posts about our progress.  The expected completion is spring 2012 when the Inn will re-open with 14 new rooms and suites.  See you then!

Miniature Tugboats

September 28, 2011 by Beth Colt

Late September is often cool and crisp, punctuated by the smell of woodsmoke as people start using their fireplaces to take the chill off rather than fire up the gas-burning boiler.   Grass mowing ends as the cool air ends the growing season and the tomato crop withers on the vine.

Not this year.

It has been hot, like middle-of-summer hot here for a week now.  Research vessels in to prep for peregrinations to southern climes are lingering to enjoy the fine weather.  Even the hard-working scientists are off early to go fishing or ride the bikepath.  I know the locals are into it because I see people sneeking off from work in their bathing suits, and heads bobbing way out in Buzzards Bay on long-distance swims.  In this calm, warm weather, why not?

I got out in my boat over the weekend, trudging across to Great Harbor with my oars, launching my tiny rowboat from the beach on Penzance and rowing out to my slightly bigger boat to go explore the Elizabeth Islands.  I brought a sweatshirt because you never know on the water but, wow, was that unnecessary!  It was so hot I was yearning to jump in by the time I had the engine fired up.

Woods Hole Great Harbor is filled with the most wonderful and eccentric boats.  I love this one, a tiny tug boat all made of well-polished wood from another era.  Not too practical, but adorable.

Clearly, I am a little obsessed with this vessel as I look through my photo-files for other shots of the harbor and find only more of the “Amycita.”  I don’t see her off the mooring often, but I do look forward to meeting her owners. Imagine a cruise over to Oak Bluffs (a great destination on Martha’s Vineyard)  in this stylish vessel!

And this is NOT the only miniature tug in our little harbor.  My friend Kimberly is lucky enough to have this wonderful boat, small as the smallest skiff but ooh, what style.  She was seen leaving work early yesterday madly texting to friends about a sunset tug cruise.  These are the perks of living so close to the water:)

So I guess this is what you would call Indian Summer.  Since my visit to Plimouth Plantation, I may need to re-name that Native People’s Summer.  Whatever you call it, it is something to be relished — summer weather long after is it expected to be gone is like a gift from the Gods (the Wampanoags called him/her “Moshop”).   Something to inspire us and help us prepare for the long winter ahead.

Off to swim!

Time Machine

September 13, 2011 by Beth Colt

Plimouth Plantation.

In fall, the early settlers of the real Plimouth settlement would have been busy preparing for winter, digging root vegetables into cellars, salting fish caught in the remaining long days and checking the seams on their thatched roofs before the winter storms.   Today, a visit to the Plimouth Plantation (a recreated village replete with role playing settlers and native guides) is like a jaunt into another time, when a handful of brave souls clung to a stern version of Protestantism on the edge of a clear blue bay.

Wandering the paths of the faux settlement, you meet men and women who “live” there and who talk directly to you, answering questions simple and complex about their journey to the new world, their motivations and daily life.  The pastor told us all about the hardships, 12 years spent in Holland gathering funds followed by an epic sail across the Atlantic where nearly half the pilgrims died. He told us how they grew corn to trade with “Indians” who came from a northern place called “Maine.”   These native people, he explained, lived in a place with a short growing season and counted on trade of furs for corn to make it through the winter.  The furs were valuable back in England, so the Pilgrims traded them for olive oil, salt, gunpowder and many other staples that they did not have in the new world.

We explored the little clapboard houses inside and out.  I was especially taken with a lovely garden, filled with rhubarb and chard and the old fashioned split rail fencing that kept a big black cow grazing in a meadow nearby. It is hard to imagine the isolation of this little community perched on the edge of such a vast wilderness, so separate from their own culture.  Many could not handle it and returned to England, we were told.  Others were seditious and banished from the community.  With so few people, it is no wonder petty issues had the possibility to become major problems.

The occupant of this little house was a feisty lass who told us about pub life in England and all the sacrifice she had made to come to the new world.  Her authentic dirt floor, open hearth and simple wooden furniture made for a setting that Vermeer would have painted, and I was pleased how the iPhone captured the limited light from a small window:

Up at the top of the hill is a meeting hall, a church I guess, with a gorgeous view out over Plymouth Bay and the lighthouse in the distance.  Built with cannon on the top, it is a fitting metaphor for the fire and brimstone church style of the rigid Pilgrims. This young woman told us she had just been married and was hoping to have children soon, if the Lord saw fit:

Around the bend, Native Peoples dressed in period garb work and play in a series of tents.  The “winter house” of the Wampanoag looks like this:

Inside, a Wampanoag descendant sat on furs, weaving a colorful ribbon.  The Native Peoples do not role play; rather they describe native lifestyles and culture when asked.   There is a sign on the way in reminding visitors to be respectful.  Some of the suggestions were so obvious as to be insulting (don’t “war whoop” or call someone “chief” or “squaw” — I mean please, who would do that?)  But others are more subtle, for example, don’t ask what percentage native the people you see here are.  OK, that’s fair.

We learned that Wampanoags spoke an Algonquin language that had common roots for all Native Peoples on the eastern seaboard.  That they had a varied diet of meat in winter, fish in summer plus corn and many other vegetables both cultivated and gathered.  That they made canoes from hollowed out tree trunks and larger vessels with pontoons that they used to catch whales off the tip of Cape Cod.  Once captured, they would plug the blowhole of the whale and the whale would swell with air so they could drag it inland.

We learned that they lived in a simpler structure in summer, usually close to water they could fish but come winter they moved inland 10 miles or so to larger structures covered with bark.  Around the outside of the tent were beds made of saplings lashed together and covered with many layers of fur.  Whole families lived together this way, with a cook fire in the middle and a hole in the roof to let the smoke out.

Fall is the perfect time to step back in time and spend a few hours in the 17th century.  Plimouth Plantation is about a forty minute drive from Woods Hole, and offers fun for the whole family.

Blueberry Zen

July 22, 2011 by Beth Colt

Coonamessett Farm on a summer's day.

Thursdays are pick-up day at Coonamessett Farm’s CSA (community supported agriculture) where I have already paid for my “share” of farm fresh veggies, flowers and fruit.  It also happens to be the day I stock up on Sippewissett Oysters (a local harvest that is a side project of Coonmessett) for the Quicks Hole restaurant, so if you want to see me in summer, you will find me over there like clockwork.

The CSA started distributing a few weeks ago and as you can imagine, summer is a little errr, can we say BUSY, for me so I have not yet had time to head out into the fields to pick my own berries as offered each week.  Yesterday when I left Woods Hole it was foggy and cold — hard to believe in the middle of what the papers are calling the first heatwave of the summer.  Seven miles inland on the rolling acres of the farm, the sun was shining and it was warm — not too hot, just perfect.

So I said, check-in be damned, I am picking some berries!  I donned a wrist band, grabbed a bucket and headed into the blueberry patch.  Surrounded by a light mesh fence, you enter through a screen door and then you are in a maze, rows and rows and rows of six to seven foot high bushes heavy with berries, many still green but the bright blue ones popping out at you like fireflies on a dusky night.  I quickly walked to the back corner to find more berries and feel alone, then worked my way backwards towards the gate.

The berries are at eye level and easy to pick.

It was the most zen hour of my week.  Alone, deep in these lush bushes, looking for berries, my thoughts erased to nothing more than reach, pick, cradle, dump.  The satisfying plunk of the plump berry in the bottom of the bucket, the steady breeze bending the trees in waves, while I reached higher for the one at the very top, the wind taunting me by pushing the largest cluster away.   A meditation on nothing more than a simple task.  My purse hanging from my arm like a vestige of some long forgotten suburban life, my feet shuffling among the fallen leaves and compost, I felt like a different person, maybe a farm girl from another century or a field worker like the ones you see in a blur while driving on the California freeways.

My bucket full and my head miraculously emptied of the everyday worries, I wandered out and gathered the other veggies — a bag of fresh kale, five spring onions still clumped with soil, parsley, summer squash, fresh flowers and more.  Still in a blueberry haze, I drove home with the windows down enjoying the way my hair blows into a huge fuzz ball with the humidity.

The haul from this week's CSA.

I paused on the lawn to snap this picture.  Another indulgence!  Get back to work, the little voice on my shoulder was shouting — but I can not shake off the clear headed feeling of the blueberry patch.  I linger.  I snap a few more of the berries on the kitchen counter and the flowers in that little blue vase I found at the Rose Bowl on another zen day many years ago.  Blueberry Zen.

Then back to work at the inn, prepping tomorrow’s banana bread pudding and welcoming guests as they check in for the weekend.  Yes, our blueberry muffins are very special this weekend — I picked the berries myself!

Locavores who want to recreate my zen blueberry experience will be pleased to know that Coonmessett is open to visitors as well, so drive on over to pick your own bucket before heading back to reality.

Waterworld in Woods Hole

June 6, 2011 by Beth Colt

Houseboats in Great Harbor, Woods Hole.

One of the most unique things about Woods Hole is it’s collection of houseboats.   See, most of Woods Hole is right on the water.  Look at a map and you will see that we are on a peninsula of a peninsula of a peninsula, literally the last little strip of land on the southwestern edge of Cape Cod.

Just like Provincetown, only on the other end of the Cape and a lot less campy.

Anyway, the summer months are so precious here (rents go up by a factor of 10x) that it’s tempting to rent your regular house for a few weeks and earn enough to pay the mortgage all winter.  But then where do you go?  For generations, people moved out to their boats for a few months but, back in the 1970s, locals got clever and started building cabins on rafts and the Woods Hole houseboat phenomena was born.

People take day trips from the Vineyard, Chatham and Nantucket to tour the harbor and look at the charming house boats (it helps that some of the best fishing on the east coast is right here as well).

Every spring, the drawbridge in Woods Hole is occupied with the migration of the houses from their winter gam in Eel Pond, a slow march out to their spectacular perches looking out over all of Woods Hole.  Perilously close to the multi-million dollar houses of Penzance Point, these tiny house boats have some of the most spectacular views in town…plus no need for air conditioning as out on the water, it’s breezy and cool most days.  The tides that rip through Woods Hole keep the water super clean (but don’t fall overboard after dark as the current could whisk you away).  I think there are about 25 of them; new ones have been banned but the existing versions are grandfathered.

At the Woods Hole Inn, guests like to watch the house boats at sunset from our front deck.  A pitcher of Cape Cod beer and a comfortable chair with this view?  Add a lobster taco and now you are smiling.  Pretty special.

We have even considered owning one and offering it as a watery room option.  It’s a short row back to dinner at the Landfall or ahi-tuna burritos at Quicks Hole.  In the morning, get your New York Times, hot coffee and a popover at Pie in the Sky?  Would you like to stay out in water world?  Can you handle the rush of the current and the wind swinging your oversized hammock over the bay? Can you live without wifi for a night or two?

Glamorous camping is called “glamping.” Are you up for it?  Comments please…

Captain Kidd roamed these waters back in the day -- could he live here now?

Woods Hole houseboats in the shadow of Devils Foot island.

Woods Hole houseboats in the shadow of Devils Foot island.

Looking back at the Woods Hole Inn from the house boats in Great Harbor, Woods Hole.

If you live here you come to dread the relentless question — “How do I get to Martha’s Vineyard”?  I’m told that a favorite Falmouth joke is to give directions to the bridge.  You know, the bridge to Martha’s Vineyard?  It’s right down there, near the house boats.  You’ll find it, just keep looking:)

Farm to Table

April 14, 2011 by Beth Colt

Exploring the hands behind the farm part of farm-to-table.

At the Woods Hole Inn, we often spend a lot of time on the “table” part of farm-to-table but today I got to head out into the field and see one of the farms that we source food from in the summer.

Coonamessett Farm was founded over 30 years ago by Ron Smolovitz, who along with his wife had a passion to save a piece of open land slated for development.  On their 2o plus acres, Ron farms everything from lettuce to turkey.  His rolling meadows with their vineyards and neat rows of lettuce, tomato, zucchini and summer squash are quite the summer destination for everything from weddings to the passionate members of his CSA.

Spring is the time to visit if you want to see where all that bounty comes from, so I headed over there yesterday in the pouring rain with a list of the produce we consume weekly to supply our breakfast kitchen and Quicks Hole — for example, 50 lbs of fresh tomatoes a week to make our signature pico de gallo fresh daily!  Try over 20 dozen eggs a week for the Woods Hole Inn’s fresh baked breakfasts?  Yeah, it all adds up.

It was pouring anew when Ron and I zipped into his rain covered golf cart and sped across the meadow to the growing cluster of greenhouses.  Ron put in a windmill a few years back and he explained that running the farm vehicles on electricity rather than gas helps keep down the price of vegetables.

We met with Stan Ingram, field boss at Coonamessett, who was literally ankle deep in mud transplanting rows of baby plants to larger containers (those are his amazing hands in the photo above).  The long low plastic roof of the greenhouse cast the most gorgeous diffused light and the drum of rain on the roof was soporific.  A lovely tiger cat leapt to greet me with a deep purr.  What a peaceful place, I thought.   “Earlier today when it was really coming down, we could not have held a conversation in here,” Stan remarked with a wry smile.

We talked about when they expect certain crops to come in, why they can’t grow tomatoes earlier (heating the greenhouses to 55 degrees costs too much money) and the logistics of getting relatively small batches of produce down to Woods Hole two or three times per week.  Their crispy arugula is essential for our “Wicked Fresh” salad — a best seller at Quicks Hole — but at the end of the day, it’s all about logistics.  Stan offered to plant more basil and cilantro to meet our weekly demand.  He also cautioned me against holding him to any dates.  I guess the plants mature when they feel like it, not just for our Quicks Hole opening day (which is May 6th this year, by the way).

Another exciting development is the local cultivation of oysters which Ron is going to distribute.  I signed Quicks Hole up for weekly delivery of the new “Sippewissett” which is out in Buzzards Bay fattening up right now from the cold winter.  Ron says the first of them will be ready by mid May.  Yum.

I left with a list of wholesale prices, an order form…  and a greater sense of purpose.  It’s not easier to source this way, actually it’s much, much harder.  But the sense of satisfaction in knowing my little business can be a part of keeping this meadow open for Ron and his golf cart?  Yeah, that feels good.

Hopefully it tastes good too.  Come check it out this summer at Quicks Hole, 6 Luscombe Ave in Woods Hole.  More info and our menu at

Lettuces feeding the people of Falmouth all winter grow in the Coonamesset Farm greenhouses.

Stan Ingram, field boss at Coonamessett Farm, in the greenhouse earlier today.

Ron Smolovitz, owner of Coonamesset Farm told me how he learned to do all this as we toured his many greenhouses: "Trial and error," he said.

Spring is Around the Corner

March 18, 2011 by Beth Colt

Spring is coming to Woods Hole

I know it’s getting warmer because I have forgotten to put my slippers on three mornings in a row.  Now, when it’s really cold outside, my kitchen floor feels like ice and there is just no way that I can “forget” the slippers that wait under the radiator for me with their soft lambswool lining.  I went out yesterday with no scarf or hat.  And the time change means its light until well after 6 pm.  So, it’s coming, my dear friend called spring.  Maybe not here yet, but soon.

Yesterday was gorgeous, sunny calm no wind, and all of a sudden the streets of Woods Hole came alive with people.  St. Patricks Day green was observed on many, and the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Black Dog was packed with business owners and new friends.

I took another photo walk this week, and here are my spring-is-around-the-corner photos:

Secret beach, with public access looks gorgeous even on a chilly day.

Witch Hazel (NOT Forsythia as originally stated) starting to bloom near the pond. This morning there was a tiny frost but it has recovered.

Spohr Gardens

April 30, 2010 by Beth Colt

A public garden near the Woods Hole Inn.

I took a walk in Spohr Gardens the other day.  It was so quiet in the woods, with these cool old millstones lining the path that leads down to the pond.  Along the pond there is a spot to launch a canoe or kayak, and a collection of huge old metal objets like anchors and enormous chains.  I sat by the water for a few minutes, ripples of the dominant southwesterly breeze fluttering over the protected pond.  How rare the opportunity for quiet contemplation in our busy world!

This amazing resource was given to the public by Martha and Charles Spohr whose main stipulation was that their six-acre property on Oyster Pond be open daily.  Volunteers keep it well-planted and beautifully maintained.  I’m told the daffodil display in spring is particularly impressive, but they were not up yet for my meditation.

Cape Cod needs more Spohrs, generous souls willing to give away a valuable piece of property despite it’s potential for residential development.  Pockets of open land like this one are a prized part of the fabric of life in Falmouth.  What an incredible resource, both for visitors like me but also for all the frogs, geese, swans, osprey — the flora and fauna of the Cape perpetually squeezed into smaller open spaces.

If you come to Woods Hole, don’t leave without a jaunt into the Spohr Gardens.  This temple of nature will refresh and revitalize you — not just with it’s beauty, but also with the spirit of  it’s inspired donors.   Thank you, Charles and Martha, for my own mindful meditation on your land the other day.   Your gift inspires me.  And I’m quite sure I am not alone.

Upright millstones and an plaque honoring the generous Spohrs.

Spring daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard

April 15, 2010 by Beth Colt

Daytripping to the Black Dog Tavern from the Woods Hole Inn.

It was 70 degrees and sunny last week when we hopped the noon ferry to Vineyard Haven to see the sights on the famous island of Martha’s Vineyard.  We sat on the front deck of the ferry, which leaves just steps from the front door of the Woods Hole Inn, and watched the gulls soar over our heads.  We munched our snacks from “Pie in the Sky” until it got too breezy, then moved into the inner part of the ferry where there are tables and a snack shop.

It takes about 45 delicious  minutes to make the crossing.  The views of Vineyard Sound and the islands are quite stunning especially with the perspective of being so high off the water.  The kids loved making flattened pennies in the old-fashioned crank machine (fifty cents to ruin a penny but what the heck, you only live once:)  It’s still the off season so the boat was filled with real Vineyarders returning to their island home.

When we pulled into Vineyard Haven, we got a little confused about exiting the ferry and ended up walking out where the cars come off — one of the stevedores yelled at us but it was really OK.  I suggest following the crowd as the exit only happens on one side of the boat.  As you walk off the ferry, you are smack in the best spot on the Harbor.  Lovely houses stretch up the hill to your right, moorings and boats fill the harbor and the commercial street is just one block up.

We beelined it to the Black Dog Tavern, famously the first restaurant to operate year round on the island back in 1971.  This place is an institution, fabulous ship timber decor and smack on the beach with a great view.  We got a table right in front (nice benny of going off season — I hear the wait is crazy in summer) and were served a terrific lunch of chowders and salads.

Get the Chowdah with the paprika croutons.

With our bellies full, we walked up the hill to the main drag and explored the shops.  There is a terrific independent bookstore called “Bunch of Grapes” where we bought a few kids books and the staff was really helpful.  I loved “Midnight Farm” which is Carly Simon’s funky furniture and clothing store — think Anthropologie but better.  I also enjoyed watching artist Kara Taylor painting in her gallery, and admired her abstract aerials of the Vineyard coastline.  We drooled outside the window of Martha’s Fudge shop, but sadly they were not open yet for the season.

After exploring town, we briefly thought about taking a taxi to Oak Bluffs but settled on a walk along the sand instead.  Our boys skipped stones across the flat harbor as my husband and I enjoyed watching the sloops and lobster boats swaying in the light breeze.  We caught the 3.45 boat back to Woods Hole, home to the Inn by 4.30.  It was another great Cape Cod day.

Don't miss the Black Dog general store for great tshirts and more.

Weddings at the Woods Hole Inn

October 22, 2009 by Beth Colt

Weddings in Woods Hole.  What a lovely idea!
At the Woods Hole Inn, we embrace brides in the tradition of the past and the spirit of modern day design and service.  We love customizing events for you, opening the whole property up for your inspired events and toasting you personally on your big day.
This season, we welcomed countless honeymooners and bridal parties, some of whom took over the whole inn for their guests.  One memorable event included a day-after-the-wedding brunch on our front porch for the bride, groom and 80 guests.  It was hot, so we served a lot of lemonade and iced tea!  Our restaurant Quicks Hole (open May – September) was happy to cater this lovely morning with homemade muffins, all natural jams, bite-size quiches and fresh fruits.  Delish!
We toast all the brides out there, and welcome you to come take a look at the Woods Hole Inn— the perfectly romantic part of your Cape Cod wedding or honeymoon.

Life by the Sea

October 15, 2009 by Beth Colt

View from Quicks Hole looking over Woods Hole passage.

The Woods Hole Inn is on the water in Woods Hole, MA, across from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. The Inn was built in 1878 and made modern in 2008.

Inn rooms feature modern decor, with a winning combination of old and new featured in magazines like Domino and Dwell.

Inn amenities include free wifi, parking, ipod docking stations, Brookstone sound machines, fresh hot popovers from Pie in the Sky as part of a Real Simple continental breakfast.

This is NOT your Granny’s B & B.

Keeping it Green

October 15, 2009 by Beth Colt

Breakfast is served in this sunny room at the Woods Hole Inn in Woods Hole, MA.

At the Woods Hole Inn, we stay GREEN by the deep BLUE sea.

How do we do it? Let me count the ways:

We recycle. We re-use. We use low VOC paints even though they cost a fortune. We never print on paper what we can file electronically. We offer discounts to customers who come by bus. We keep the heat turned down and do not use AC, ever! We turn lights and fans off when we can. We ask guests to participate with us by re-using towels and sheets when they can. We supply eco-chic toilet paper even when guests sometimes beg for evil-Charmin.

What do we hope to do? Add solar panels. Build a roof garden for herbs and natural insulation. Finish insulating the building. Find a local farm to take our compost. Build a chicken coop and serve eggs made from our own hens. Plant a garden to keep it super locavore. Live on the 100 mile diet.

Any other good ideas for me?