This winter brought more snow than usual with the month of February racking up over 100 inches in Boston, breaking snowfall records all over the region. Our snow photos always intrigue summer visitors who only see Cape Cod at 80 degrees. It’s hard to imagine Coast Guard ice cutters crisscrossing the Hole, intrepid explorers out seventy five feet on Buzzards Bay, MBL scientists enjoying pick-up hockey on Eel Pond, ferries dodging ice cakes clogging the Passage, massive navigational buoys drifting like toy boats.
My quest for snow photos typically involves rushing out the minute it starts, as the snow always seems to melt within a few minutes. Not so much for snow photos 2015. We have been covered in a decent blanket since the first blizzard hit in late January. Since then, I have lost count of how many more days it snowed, although I remember Valentine’s Day — soft quiet accumulation all night with a dramatic blizzard slamming like a hangover in the morning. These winter storms had romantic names like Neptune and Juno, Greek reminders of god-like forces greater than us.
In addition to the relentless snow fall, cold air blasted us for most of the month. We now have significant sea ice formed all along our shores rendering the landscape at water’s edge into something otherworldly, arctic. If you have not seen satellite photos of this phenomena, check this out, as it appears to be frozen at least half way across Buzzards Bay.
To keep the harbor open, the US Coast Guard sent ice cutters to maintain the ferry system connecting us to Martha’s Vineyard. Out on Nantucket, a local photographer captured slushy waves that made the New York Times, while here in Woods Hole we watched, mesmerized, as the ice floes and some of the buoys moved through the currents of the Woods Hole passage.
When the Eel Pond froze over earlier this week, the first intrepid explorers were scientists from our local labs in special suits designed to prevent drowning. But once it was proven solid, lots of Woods Hole lemmings (including me) rushed out to experience the feeling of walking and skating in the middle of the village.
I particularly love this birds-eye-view film shot by my neighbor Brian Switzer (a wonderful director and inspired teacher in our local public schools) of Woods Hole in these extraordinary conditions. I think you will enjoy it, and perhaps the snow photos 2015 in my photo essay that follows. For daily photos, check out my Facebook page #WoodsHoleColors.
The cold air biting at your lungs with every deep breath, the weight of the sled in your mitten-ed hand, the bright sunlight glinting off acres of hot white snow, there is nothing better than a clear sunny day right after a deep snowfall for sledding on Cape Cod.
Yesterday was just such a day — six new inches from Saturday’s “ValenBlizzard,” cousins visiting from Connecticut and a bright blue cloudless sky. We dressed the crew up with all the gear, grabbed every sled we could unearth amidst sails, paddleboards and other basement debris, and walked over to the Woods Hole golf course.
What vistas are to be had for the intrepid who wander its lush hills and valleys! In winter, this private club becomes our neighborhood sledding destination, with slopes varying from beginner to what locals call wicked steep. In a scene reminiscent of Bruegel, we trudged in a single line across the vast meadow of snow towards the peak, top of hole 8, slickest spot on the course.
There was little time to pause and see Buzzards Bay flecked with white caps in the distance, or look the other way to see Martha’s Vineyard dancing across the Sound through bare winter trees — as we rushed to enjoy the epic Cape Cod sledding, the whoosh of speeding down, so exhilarating yet brief, followed by the epic march back up the hill.
Many laughs, selfies and snow heaps of exhausted children later, we piled back down the hill for cups of chowder and hot cocoa all around at the new Quicks Hole Tavern in Woods Hole. A great winter’s vacation day, sledding here on Cape Cod.
I am constantly bragging about how mild the weather is here, how rarely we get snow, how when we do it melts right away. Readers of this blog must have heard me reference the warm “gulf stream waters” dozens of times and even heard me lament the brief sledding opportunities, the short pond-skating season.
Not this year: snowed yesterday, snowed last week, going to snow tomorrow. It’s been so snowy, most people are officially done with small talking about it, annoyed with the over-reporting of it all and beyond the bend about shoveling their driveway “One. More. Time.”
So this blog is NOT about snow.
No, this blog is all about dreaming of summer. Walking down my street in this snow scape, it’s really hard to remember that in just a few months my neighborhood will transform — with clusters of kids giggling and snapping their towels, summer people perched at the waterfront with lobster dipped in butter dripping off their chins, Woods Hole Inn guests sitting on the deck watching cloud banks drift over Vineyard Sound, the strum of cicadas at twilight, the feeling of dusk on a sunburn, the glow of fireflies as open mic night gets cranking at Pie in the Sky. Oh yes, a girl can dream.
So as the wind blows outside and we brace for another nine inches tomorrow, please enjoy these classics from the dreams of my summers past.
I love a good snow day, and this one started early with a phone call from Charlene (our breakfast chef) letting me know there was no way she was going to be able to drive in due to the blizzard. I considered driving myself, but one look at the snow mound that covered my car I decided it would be easier to walk. In daybreak’s grey light, I trudged thru the swirling snow to the Woods Hole Inn, stopping several times to attempt to capture the look of this gorgeous Cape Cod blizzard (see photos below or more on my Facebook page).
Inside, the Inn felt remarkably cozy and warm. I quickly dug out the front steps and fired up the first pot of hot coffee for our sleeping guests. The New York Times delivery guy handed me the paper as I was shoveling. Thanks, I said — Appreciated!
Something about the smell of hot coffee and guests started trickling out of their rooms, happy winter vacationers enjoying a respite from everyday life with a visit to wintery Cape Cod. I produced our usual breakfast spread — fresh cut fruit, Greek yoghurt, house made granola, cinnamon rolls, sausage quiche and slices of Charlene’s spiced cranberry pumpkin loaf. I think they enjoyed experiencing the Cape Cod blizzard in their slippers with a great meal to start the day.
While guests watched the snow swirling from the warm breakfast room, I headed back for more shoveling. The drifts were incredible, and with the wind still roaring it was possible to toss each shovelful into the wind and watch the snow burst away. I managed to get the driveway and sidewalk cleared by about 9 am, although it was still snowing and I was sure it would need another pass.
Back into the house to begin the cleaning for the day, clearing up breakfast, washing the floors of the salt and sand that follows everyone inside in winter. Cape Cod blizzards are fun for guests, but lots of extra work for innkeepers. For me, finding pleasure in the small things that fill each day is the secret to happiness. That and taking pictures to share with you all.
Here are some photos of the rest of this glorious day. If you enjoy this blog, please consider sharing the link with friends. And thanks so much for all your support — we are deeply grateful to all our friends and customers for their help spreading the word about beautiful Woods Hole.
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:
Bird houses covered with lichen…
Old stone walls nestled between decades of un-raked leaves and fallen limbs…
Sandy soil paths, roots exposed when worn by thousands of walking visitors like me…
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.
Even though it’s Sunday, I feel like today is a real snow day here in Woods Hole. I mean who can pay bills or even watch football (OK, maybe by late in the day football is OK) when it looks like this outside?
My photo essay on the January 21, 2012 snow storm:
The venerable Woods Hole Inn, looking stately and a bit half-dressed while under-construction in the snow.
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I woke up to Facebook messages about historic snow in Los Angeles, then looked out my window and saw that we had a wonderful dusting of our own here in Woods Hole. Since we just relocated here from LA, it struck me as pretty ironic that it would have snowed in both places!
Add to that irony that Steph, our chef for Quicks Hole, is in LA this weekend trying all the cool food spots that inspire the Quicks Hole menu (La Lotteria, Ammo, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Clementine and much more). The hope was that she would get some good eats and a little sunny R&R, well deserved vacation in warm tropical Los Angeles. Ha.
So I scarfed my tea and toast to get out quick enough before it all melted. Here are some of the photo observations: