Phone:508-495-0248
Phone:508-495-0248

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MBL Falmouth Forum: “The Economic Costs of Climate Change”

March 13, 2015 by Beth Colt

Scholars have wondered for centuries about the link between climate and economic development. In the context of climate change, understanding these linkages has become all the more urgent. This talk will review a rapidly expanding body of new research that sheds light on how, when, and where temperature and other climatic variables influence economic outcomes. This talk will also consider the implications of recent research findings for public policy.

Benjamin Jones is a Professor of Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Jones’s research considers obstacles to growth in developing countries, with recent work considering subjects such as national leadership, higher education, and climate change. He further studies the forces that drive technological progress in advanced economies, with recent work examining the relationship between age and creativity and the role of collaboration in innovation. His publications have appeared in leading academic journals such as the Review of Economic Studies, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Science, and have been profiled in media outlets such as CNN, the Economist, and the Freakonomics blog of the New York Times.

Sponsored by the MBL Associates, and generously supported this season by Sandy and David Bakalar, the event is free and open to the public.

An optional buffet dinner will precede Jones’ lecture at 6:00 PM at the MBL’s Swope Center, 5 North Street, Woods Hole. Tickets are $30 (meal includes salad, pasta or potatoes, two entrees, wine, dessert, tax and gratuity) and must be purchased in advance at Eight Cousins Bookstore, Main Street, Falmouth, or at the MBL Communications Office, 127 Water Street, Woods Hole. Dinner tickets are available until they sell out or until 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 10. For more information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or comm@mbl.edu.

MBL Falmouth Forum: “Out of the Blue: Nantucket and the Pacific World”

February 27, 2015 by Beth Colt

Whales’ Teeth, Sea Cucumbers and Castaways Topic of MBL Falmouth Forum

Sponsored by the MBL Associates, and generously supported this season by Sandy and David Bakalar, the event is free and open to the public.

The histories of Whippy, Cary and the commodities they traded offer testimonials about cultural and environmental changes during the nineteenth century. Their stories also reveal the deep interconnections between maritime communities in the North Atlantic and the South Pacific.

The son of Jerry and Lalise Melillo of Falmouth, Edward “Ted” Melillo, a graduate of Falmouth Academy, earned his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in history from Yale University. After a one-year position as the Kiriyama Distinguished Research Fellow at the University of San Francisco’s Center for the Pacific Rim, he taught for a year in the history department at Oberlin College and spent a year as a visiting assistant professor in the Earth and Environment Department at Franklin & Marshall College. Since 2009, Melillo has been a faculty member at Amherst College where he teaches courses on global environmental history, the history of the Pacific World, and commodities in world historical perspective.

Melillo is the author of the forthcoming book, Strangers on Familiar Soil: Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection, 1786-2008, which will be published in the fall of 2015. He is also the co-editor of Eco-Cultural Networks and the British Empire: New Views on Environmental History, published in December 2014.  His articles have appeared in numerous journals, and he has given nearly fifty lectures and presentations on topics ranging from the social history of the global nitrogen cycle to the role of insect-derived commodities in shaping world history.

An optional buffet dinner will precede Melillo’s lecture at 6:00 PM at the MBL’s Swope Center, 5 North Street, Woods Hole. Tickets are $30 (meal includes salad, pasta or potatoes, two entrees, wine, dessert, tax and gratuity) and must be purchased in advance at Eight Cousins Bookstore, Main Street, Falmouth, or at the MBL Communications Office, 127 Water Street, Woods Hole. Dinner tickets are available until they sell out or until 5:00 pm on Tuesday February 24. For more information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or comm@mbl.edu.

Science Before Supper Series 2014/15

February 19, 2015 by Beth Colt

The MBL Associates and the Falmouth Public Library  present “Science Before Supper,” a series of talks by MBL scientists designed to whet the public’s appetite for all things science.
The free talks are designed especially for non-scientists.
Light refreshments will be served.

February 19

  Interrogating a Microbial Planet
Mitch Sogin, Senior Scientist, MBL’s Bay Paul Center

 

MBL Falmouth Forum: A Poetry Reading with Rosanna Warren

January 16, 2015 by Beth Colt

Rosanna Warren is the Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Warren’s book of criticism, Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, came out in 2008. Her most recent books of poems are Departure (2003) and Ghost in a Red Hat (2011). She is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others. She was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Warren will read from her recent book, Ghost in a Red Hat (W.W. Norton 2011) and more recent poems. Themes of human disturbances in nature, among other matters.

Science Before Supper Series 2014/15

January 8, 2015 by Beth Colt

The MBL Associates and the Falmouth Public Library  present “Science Before Supper,” a series of talks by MBL scientists designed to whet the public’s appetite for all things science.
The free talks are designed especially for non-scientists.
Light refreshments will be served.

January 8

  Exploding Volcanoes and Microbial Life in the Deep Sea
Julie Huber, Associate Director, MBL’s Bay Paul Center

MBL Falmouth Forum Lecture Series – Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians

November 14, 2014 by Beth Colt

MBL Falmouth Forum Lecture Series – Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians
Justin Martin, biographer of Genius of Place: the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted
Lillie Auditorium, 7:30 PM

Lectures are free and open to the public.

An optional buffet dinner precedes each lecture at 6:00 pm at the MBL’s Swope Center. Tickets are $30 and must be purchased in advance at the MBL Communications Office, 127 Water Street, Woods Hole, or at Eight Cousins Children’s Books, Main Street, Falmouth. Dinner tickets are available until they sell out or until 5 PM on the Tuesday prior to the event. For more information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or comm@mbl.edu.

Fourth of July

July 4, 2013 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole Fourth of July

 

Woods Hole has the most distinctive Fourth of July parade in America.  Organized by the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), this gathering of young scientists celebrating our nations birth is filled with costumes, dancers, and balloons.  Representing things like cell reproduction, neurobiology, marine resources and much more, student laugh and dance their way down a spectator-packed Water Street.

Tossing candy along the path, the parade takes starts at noon every year and takes about fifteen minutes.  One fun tradition is that after students cross the drawbridge, they break into a serious water-balloon fight, a nice respite from a hot Cape Cod day.

On the porch of the Woods Hole Inn, we offer cool lemonade, iced tea and Charlene’s fresh baked cookies to as many people who will fit.  It’s a great birds-eye view of the whole event.

Half hour later, the streets are empty as people dash back to the beach.  Ahh, Cape Cod summah.

Hope to see you there next year!  Happy Fourth.

Woods Hole Inn

 

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Graham Nash visits Woods Hole

July 22, 2012 by Beth Colt

Image

A guest post by blogger Megan Jensen

Since coming to Woods Hole, I’ve been surprised again and again at how busy this small town can be. You really never know what opportunities might turn up each week.

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a ceremony held by the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary awarding singer/songwriter Graham Nash of Crosby Stills Nash and Young with the Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award.

Mr. Nash, who is well known for his work with CSNY as well as The Hollies is a true renaissance man. He is also photographer, artist and strong advocate of the environment. After a brief explanation of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Nash was asked to give his thoughts on current environmental issues we are facing today.

Nash stressed how important it is that we leave a better world for our children, and that we work together to do all that we can. He quoted Willie Nelson, who recalled that things were better when, “you looked around and if there’s anything wrong here, there, anywhere, you took care of your own area. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to go by. If everyone just takes care of their own area then we won’t have any problems. Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there. And look around you and see what needs to be changed.”

After this hopeful discussion Nash was given his award and preceded to play a few favorite tunes. In the spirit of marine conservation he played “Wind on the Water,” for the first time ever on acoustic guitar, which he wrote after an encounter with a blue whale while on a sailing trip. The ceremony ended with Nash playing “Teach Your Children” and the audience couldn’t help but to sing along.

Having grown up listening to CSNY, it was amazing to meet Graham Nash, right here in Woods Hole!

(CSN is currently on a 70-plus date world tour, and they just released their first live performance in over two decades titled, CSN 2012).

Devil in the Details

November 2, 2011 by Beth Colt

What does “vintage” mean to you? And how do you renovate an old building without losing it’s soul?

The devil is in the details.

My goal in this renovation of the Woods Hole Inn is to dance on the fine line of “new-ish” — by which I mean modern, comfortable, functioning — without losing the soul.  As they tear out the horsehair plaster, am I robbing the building of something precious and irreplaceable?  Modernity (i.e. new bathrooms, electrical outlets that work without burning the place down and other small details like that) can not be achieved without some demolition.  But how much is enough?  And will next year’s guests appreciate it?

Honoring the small design details is important to me; check out this bulls eye door trim which I am fighting to keep upstairs.  Even an exact copy of this will never look the same as this original with it’s 20 coats of paint, each one a badge of honor in a long and useful life.

cape cod vacations, restoring old homes

Or how about this incredible floor in the front living room of the Inn.  People come into the inn, regularly, and ask me how I got this “effect”   …Ummm, let’s see.  Start with original growth hardwood, cut up on the hill right here and planed in a sawmill.  Paint it four or five times over the course of a century, walk on it a lot preferably with muddy quahog boots.  When you celebrate it’s 100th birthday, ask someone to sand it down but (this part is very important!) fire him about half way through the job.  Then, wait another 25 years, put one layer of polyurethane down, pour yourself a gin and tonic and enjoy.

These are the “vintage” parts of the inn that people come and admire. But not everything that I fight to save strikes a chord with guests.  Let me share a brief example with you.

I am a fan of old mirrors like the one in Room One (see below).   I very deliberately renovated around this, admiring the flowering mercury glass effect that is working it’s way up from the bottom.  For me, it is like a tangible reminder of many hot, sticky summer days where you throw yourself in the salt water for relief then come home for a nice cool shower before a dock-side dinner of ice-cold oysters, lobster claw drenched in salty butter, hot summer corn and hand-churned vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. This look only comes with years of exposure to salty ocean air.  It feels earned, like a stylish survivor.  When I look at myself in this aging mirror, I feel a bit like Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasons, like I have a period costume on and my day will surely be filled with love letters.

vintage restored

Look closely on the bottom of the mirror to see the mark of the ocean air on this vintage mirror cabinet.

But some guests disagree.  One recently wrote a review on TripAdvisor specifically calling this detail out as something that she did NOT value.  She is not the first!  Others have mentioned to me that they specifically did not like this feeling of age on this particular mirror.  And when I look at it in that light I think, what am I crazy!  Rip it out!  Who cares about my own likes and dislikes if it keeps guests happy.

And it doesn’t stop there.  The judgement calls, they come up every day.  Should we leave the old brick fireplace exposed or cover it up?  Can the wide-board floors be repaired, new wood inserted where the walls once were so that you will see the old layout, the bones of the building preserved?  Or will that look like we simply cut corners?  If the window trim can be saved, should it be at the expense of less insulation in the walls?  What is more “green” – saving the trim or making sure the building is more heat efficient?  Wow!  These are hard questions!!

There is a fine line between vintage and just old.  I was grappling with this today as I walked home and I passed these two guys outside the Marine Biological Labs (“MBL”) scrubbing rust out of 1970’s era radiators.  Another fellow stepped outside just as I walked by and said with disdain, “They gave it away.”  And one of the seated guys said incredulously, “Gave it away! Why would anyone do that?”  I don’t even know what “it” is, but I feel their pain.

"Why would anyone do that?"

Woods Hole is a thrifty, Yankee place where scrubbing out rusty radiators is preferable to buying new, where lathe is left in walls and mirrors with water-damage are cherished, where even in cutting edge scientific institutions it is not abnormal to see two guys huddled in the lea of a November north wind cursing the fool who didn’t see the value in an old piece of metal.

I strive to bring this spirit to the restoration of the Inn without losing the modern vibe.  The push pull of old vs new, the constant barrage of questions about what to keep and what to toss, the thrill of the new space and the sorrow as they cart off the old is at the core of why I love my job.  I just don’t want to hear “Why would anyone do that?” come April.

So….What do YOU think I should do about the mirror in Room One?

Rain or Shine…ing Sea Bike Path

June 12, 2011 by Beth Colt

Local sculpture at the 3 mile mark on the Shining Sea bike path in Falmouth.

The sky was glowering when I biked out of Woods Hole on the Shining Sea bike path yesterday, with a blustery wind blowing from the southeast which is where the summer storms blow in from.  The breeze was warm enough, it was cool and pleasant, a perfect day to explore.

The bike path, which is one of the biggest draws to Falmouth, is on the reclaimed path of the old railroad tracks (abandoned in the 1960s).   This means it is a nice straight line, far from any road except a handful you cross along the way.  How rarely do we get to bike on a paved road nowhere near a car? A special experience, it makes me wish that cities and towns across the country would have to foresight to install a unique right of way such as this one.

The bike path was extended last year, and now runs 11 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. I dream that someday it will extend (as the abandoned train tracks still do) all the way to the Cape Cod Canal and hook up with the path that swoops out toward Provincetown making all of the Cape safely bike-able and connecting us in a green way to our neighbors in Chatham, Wellfleet, Truro and beyond.

I am working towards riding the whole thing round trip, and yesterday I made it past the five mile marker.  The first mile out of Woods Hole is in the shady beech forest, passing over several old wooden bridges the bike wheels going thump thump thump on the weathered boards.  There are glimpses through the trees of the houses on Fay Road that line a private beach looking out at Vineyard Sound.  Tiny intriguing foot paths veer off to the right and left with small painted “private please” signs.

About a mile up, you get your first big reveal of the ocean.  Surf Drive, one of the most beautiful of Falmouth’s many beaches, stretches two miles before you, surf crashing today over the breakwaters, the shore dotted with little cabins on stilts.  I think of the people who used to come here on the train, most headed to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard,  and imagine that this view was an exciting moment as they emerged from the woods and saw Vineyard Sound for the first time, caught a whiff of that distinctive smell of eel grass drying in the sun, and felt the cool breeze off the water.  I can only imagine this was the first real taste of summer vacation.

View of Surf Drive from the bike path on a stormy day.

Yesterday, the southeasterly wind buffeted my bike as soon as I emerged from the woods.  I passed the Trunk River which is a tidal pond that empties into the ocean.  Herring run here in season, and fisherman gather at the breakwaters to catch fish drawn to the current.  There is another small wooden bridge, and a sign about the life of the tidal river that is worth a quick stop.

From here, the path veers inland, back into the lee, past several conservation sites with salt-water pond views and walks, toward the main streets of Falmouth.  The vista to the left across the Oyster Pond is particularly delightful, even on a gray day, with the Spohr Gardens in the distance.  Once in Falmouth, you can take a right off the path at the bus station for a pick-me-up at the locally-run Coffee Obsession on Palmer Ave., or continue onto Main Street for ice cream, homemade fudge, cupcakes and lots of fun local shopping.

I did not stop, as the weather was still threatening.  Past the village, from the path you can see the back side of the bus station, the back corners of the Steamship Authority parking lot, and the cooking vents of Seafood Sam’s  then you are back in the woods again, the canopy high above you and the light filtered green with the glow of the spring leaves.

I made it up to the Sippewisset Marsh, about mile five, before the rain started coming down in those large droplets that you can almost dodge between but indicate that much more is likely on the way.  I paused to look out over the marsh and read a sigh posted there about the Wampanoag.  It says, among other things, that “Sippewisset” means “place of the brook” and that this was a sacred site for Native Americans on their annual peregrination towards the fishing holes and summer hunting of what we now call Woods Hole and the islands.

History buffs will enjoy learning that this marsh is also the site of Rachel Carson’s 1950’s era scientific exploration into the devastating effects of DDT (a pesticide) on the environment which inspired her to write “Silent Spring” the book that launched the environmental movement in the US, ultimately inspiring the US Congress to ban the use of DDT.  Were she alive today, she would reflect again on the sacred beauty of this marsh, again filled with osprey and many other shore birds that have returned due to her clarion call.  Even with the threatening rain, I pause for several minutes to appreciate this achievement, a nice confluence of the scientific with the spiritual.  Louis Agassiz would approve.

View point from the Shining Sea bike path in Falmouth.

The ride home, I pick up the pace as the rain starts to come in earnest.  It is all subtlety downhill now,  I realize as soon as I turn around, and the trip back is faster and easier.  I fall into a trance as the rain drips softly from my hat and the view in reverse rushes past.

Rolling back into Woods Hole, almost two hours and ten miles later, I am ready for a snack and a place to put my wet feet up.  Lobster taco time!  Thank god for Quicks Hole, the restaurant on Luscombe Avenue across from the Landfall, the perfect spot for a dripping wet biker to unwind a bit before heading back to that comfortable suite at the Woods Hole Inn.

Quicks Hole unites with water-loving community to celebrate Independence Day

July 4, 2010 by Beth Colt

Wacky water-loving locals and researchers combine sea life and patriotism to celebrate the Fourth.

The not-so-sleepy town of Woods Hole kicks off the Fourth of July every year with a town parade sponsored by the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. The event showcases the summer lab students who convert their knowledge of the local marine life into festive water-themed floats.

Quicks Hole, an eco-friendly newbie to the Hole, joined in on the fun and passed out 300 Melville’s Olde Tyme handmade lobster pops to the crowd along Water Street on Sunday that included a coupon for a free bruschetta bite.

“We’re a restaurant that’s all about our community,” said Beth Colt, owner of the restaurant and Woods Hole Inn. “We are a Cape Cod loving establishment that only sources local seafood and produce. We love the locals and we jump at any chance to interact with them.”

Quicks Hole is a casual dining experience that offers Baja themed cuisine located at 6 Luscombe Ave., just a block away from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.

Everything is genuinely wicked fresh and prepared daily by a chef who knows the water. Raised by a commercial fishing family, Stephanie Mikolazyk from Rhode Island can attest to the positive influence that Quicks is having on the community.

“The demand is fresh and we are ready and able to provide that,” she said. “That being said, we’ve got to give back to our oceans. People notice what we’re doing: most of our dishware is compostable, we recycle everything we can and support efforts to keep everything local. It’s a great feeling to be giving back everyday.”

The restaurant has only been in business since the summer of 2007 but is quickly becoming a staple stop in Woods Hole. It now includes a fresh market that is restocked daily with local eggs, free-range organic honey, produce, grab-and-go lunch items, milk and specialty cheeses. Quick and convenient are at the top of their list at Quicks, but above all, they strive for providing a unique dining experience with friendly service and of course, wicked fresh seafood.

Quicks Hole marches in the annual Fourth of July parade outfitted in lobster costumes.

Everything is wicked fresh at Quicks Hole and just by eating there, you’re helping create change.

Woods Hole = Harvard Square of Cape Cod

September 2, 2009 by Beth Colt


So, I guess I am not the only one who thinks the academic buildings of Woods Hole make the whole place feel a little like Cambridge on Cape Cod. And frankly, since I often refer to Cambridge as “utopia,” when you mix utopia with great beaches and the positive ions of the ocean air, I guess you get…um… nirvana?

Harvard professor Louis Agassiz was an important force in the development of the Marine Biological Laboratory back in the 1880s. And along with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, there have been countless Harvard grads living and working here for the last 125 years. The MBL is billed as the oldest private laboratory in the country and it is famous for serendipitious scientific encounters such as the meeting of Franklin Stahl and Matthew Messelsen which resulted in the first replications of DNA. And lots of other cool stuff like that including all the research for Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

There are two or three Nobel prize winners living right in this little fishing village. So if you are into science, walking around here is like being on the red carpet at the science Academy Awards: “Look, there’s Brad Pitt, err … I mean Osamu Shimomura. He’s married to Angelina Jolie, I mean … He won the Nobel for harnessing the natural power of luminescence found in jellyfish.”

Follow this link to the journalist who claims, “I like to think of Woods Hole, in Falmouth, as the Harvard Square of Cape Cod.” She has a number of nice photos there too.

But remember, the “nirvana” you may experience with those positive ions, the great beaches and our wonderful ocean views is not really science. To me, it’s more like art.

Fourth of July

July 12, 2009 by Beth Colt

You won’t see a parade like this one anywhere else on the planet.

On the Fourth of July, the citizens of Woods Hole line Water Street to watch one of the more unusual parades I have ever seen. The marine biological labs empty out and students dress as single cell amoeba, dance like algae and wear crustacean costumes to ring in our nation’s birthday. Its a fabulous amalgamation of science and patriotism and I can’t imagine a better spot to enjoy this important holiday.

On the porch of the Woods Hole Inn, we offer free lemonade, ice tea, cookies and a great view of the festivities. Our guests mingle with locals as festive floats and scads of graduate students dance and laugh their way from School Street across the drawbridge. Kids and their parents line the streets and enjoy the antics. After the parade, the shops and restaurants are filled with hungry revelers eager to get a nice lobster taco, ahi tuna burrito or cold draft beer by the waterfront. This year was one of the first great days of the summer weather-wise, so it felt especially festive and crowded. Hot in the sun, the steady southwest breeze off of Vineyard Sound kept everyone cool.

We open the inn up on the Fourth and give tours. This year a grande dame from Juniper Point came in to look around and see if we were “up to snuff” (as my own grande dame of a grandmother used to say) for later in the summer when her large house by the water would be packed to the last maids room and she might need some overflow space. I toured her through the renovated property and in her own quiet and WASPY way she seemed impressed. She had that wonderful lockjaw that distinguishes the generation that grew up listening to Katherine Hepburn and living in the world chronicled by movies like “Philadelphia Story.” She told me she was 84 years old, she had been coming to Woods Hole her entire life and she had never before set foot in the Woods Hole Inn. “We always thought it was a house of prostitution!” she exclaimed. Well, I said, who knows, maybe it was?

But it’s not anymore, and next year when you are scratching your head about what unique way to spend the Fourth, consider the Woods Hole Inn. We may not have any “ladies of the evening,” but we promise to show you a good time:)

Woods Hole Inn recommended by the Boston Globe

June 2, 2009 by Beth Colt

WOODS HOLE – by Patricia Borns for the BOSTON GLOBE

To understand this village in Falmouth, you have to think beyond the parking lots overflowing with ferry passengers bound for Martha’s Vineyard. Park at the Falmouth Mall, hop the WHOOSH trolley, and you can spend a day on beaches laced with salt ponds and pink rosa ragosa.

What to do in Woods Hole:

OceanQuest
Waterfront Park, Water Street
508-376-2326; oceanquest.org
90-minute trips June 22-Sept. 5, adult $22, children 4-12 $17.

WHOI tours
93 Water St.
508-289-2252
About 75 minutes, July-August, weekdays 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., free; call for reservations.

MBL tours
Water and MBL streets Reservations: 508-289-7623 About an hour, late June-September, weekdays 1 and 2 p.m., free.

Where to eat
The Captain Kidd

77 Water St
508-548-8563
thecaptainkidd.com
From $8.75.

Where to stay
Woods Hole Inn

28 Water Street
508-495-0248

www.woodsholeinn.com

From $125.

 

From its main drag Water Street to the channel between Penzance Point and Nonamesset Island for which it was named, Woods Hole is synonymous with ocean. You can smell it in the air, see it from almost every restaurant, appreciate it in the seascapes at Edie Bruce’s art gallery on School Street, and learn about it from some of the world’s premier marine research institutions, starting with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL).

You might start by admiring the new drawbridge on Water Street as it opens and closes on a pageant of boat traffic in and out of Eel Pond. Then, follow Woods Hole Road to Church Street where Nobska Point Light overlooks one of the best views on Cape Cod.

See white sails tacking toward the purple outline of Martha’s Vineyard on the Vineyard Sound chop, and the mostly Forbes family-owned Elizabeth Islands tapering to a southwest vanishing point facing Buzzards Bay. A day could start and end on this spot, as it often has for artist Doug Rugh, whose career began as an illustrator at the MBL, where his grandparents did research. Rugh and his wife, artist Hillary Osborne, have created an oeuvre of Woods Hole scenes. To locate these in physical reality, link to the Google map on their website, osbornandrughgallery.com.

Spread your blanket on Nobska Beach below the lighthouse on Church Street, or on Stoney Beach beside Gosnold Road, where “you can hear children calling the shells by their [scientific] names,” Rugh says. That’s because scientists by the hundreds flock to the Buzzards Bay-side beach during the season.

“I love the summer. It’s great to be around so many new and different people,” says Cliff Pontbriand, a junior engineer working on oceanographic instrumentation at WHOI. For a peek at the marine scientists’ inner sanctums, he suggests one of the WHOI or MBL tours. The WHOI tour includes a view of the institution’s dock where recently sub-sea robot Nereus was being tested before shipping out to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of Earth’s oceans.

Along with a library of scientific journals dating from the 17th century, the MBL tour visits the Marine Resources Center on MBL Street, where Ed Enos presides over tanks filled with sea creatures used in research.

“What does this remind you of?” says Enos, handing around a mass of gelatinous, fingerlike squid eggs to some shy youngsters. “Gummy bears!” He likens a sea urchin to “mom’s pin cushion” and presses a finger to a toad fish’s soft abdomen so that it grunts “like a frog.”

Pontbriand suggests that if you want to experience what scientists do, get out on the water with OceanQuest. Located next to the WHOI docks on Great Harbor, OceanQuest’s 63-foot, three-station research vessel is the brainchild of Kathy Mullin, a math and science teacher who moved to Cape Cod with her husband but couldn’t find a teaching job. The 90-minute cruise starts on the bow, introducing the atmospheric and ocean dynamics that make our planet viable. There you’ll take a water sample, and in the cabin, analyze it under a scope. On the stern, you might trawl and handle crabs, lightning fish, or any of 200 species found in just a 10-mile radius.

“In the fall we even see trigger fish, usually found in the tropics. The confluence of currents gives Cape Cod waters incredible diversity,” Mullin says.

Science is present even in the spiritual quiet of the Garden of Our Lady, located on Millfield Street across from St. Joseph Church. Created by Frances Lillie, who came in 1894 to study at the MBL, the garden offers a bench where you can contemplate the messages inscribed on the bell tower (Lillie named the two bells for Roman Catholic scientists Gregor Mendel and Louis Pasteur) and the prolific flowers with names like Lady’s Slipper, Lady’s Mantle, and Madonna Lily invoking the Virgin Mary.

The 700,000 daffodils may have passed, but the rhododendrons will be blooming in Spohr Gardens, an out-of-the-way landscape off Oyster Pond Road that’s worth a painting or picnic in early June. Begun in the 1950s, the six-acre plot set on a still green pond was the passion of Margaret and Charles Spohr, who also collected the ships’ anchors, bells, and millstones on display.

You could wind down the day with a brew and burger at “the Kidd” (Captain Kidd Restaurant on Water Street) where wisps of theoretical discourse can be heard among the tourists’ din.

But if you like to bike, follow the Shining Sea Bikeway out Quissett Road to Quissett Harbor. New this year, the shore-hugging route, which many consider the sweetest on Cape Cod, has been extended from the Woods Hole Steamship Authority to County Road in North Falmouth, about 10 miles. Slightly north of Woods Hole proper, inner Quissett Harbor looks like a page from a children’s book: deep and glade-like, dotted with classic sloops. Around the shoreline, the buildings of the former Quissett Harbor Hotel and James Marshall estate, now a conference facility of the National Academy of Sciences, recall Quissett’s days as a 19th-century vacation spot.

A leafy trail shoots off to small beaches, and a narrow neck of land, the Knob, wraps its protective arm around the harbor. Here you can watch the sun set with a wide-open view to Buzzards Bay and the Elizabeth Islands.

While I was here, a boy splashed in the shallows with his parents. “Mom,” he said, “isn’t this the perfect place?”

Patricia Borns can be reached at patriciaborns@comcast.net.

http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/massachusetts/regions/capecod/articles/2009/05/31/village_of_big_science_big_water_small_pleasures/?page=2

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