As I have aged, winter has been more and more difficult to manage. I need sun and warmth. I need long days and the smell of roses. I need summer.
I love the ocean. I love the smell of salty air, the sound of waves crashing, and the feel of the soft sand under my feet. The first beach day of the year is always my favorite day. I set up my chair facing the waves, bury my toes in the warm sand, tip my face up to the glorious sun, close my eyes and breathe. And I smile.
I live in Southwestern Connecticut so while I am lucky enough to live in a “beach town” our ocean is really Long Island Sound. Our shore is rocky, our waves are small, and when we look to the horizon we do not see endless ocean. We see Long Island. So while I certainly appreciate having a beach and the water in close proximity I know my town is not a vacation spot for tourists for a reason.
Despite my love of the ocean and despite living only a few miles from the beach, I rarely visited during the winter. The sight of the empty beach was depressing. The bite of the cold wind made me miserable. And of course, the sun offered me no warmth.
My favorite vacation spot is Cape Cod. My family travels all the way up the Cape to Wellfleet, 15 miles south of its tip, several times throughout the late spring and summer. The Outer Cape is known for quaint villages filled with art galleries, small shops selling jewelry, clothing, and other trinkets, and fantastic restaurants serving local seafood as fresh as it could possibly be. It’s also known for its sparkling fresh water ponds, miles of hiking and biking trails through marshland and over bluffs, gorgeous sunsets on the Cape Cod Bay, and pristine beaches with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. My favorite spot is Newcomb Hollow Beach. I could sit in my chair on that beach from sunrise to sunset and never stop smiling.
Last March (right before the country shut down in response to the pandemic), my husband and I decided to go up to the Cape for his birthday weekend. We knew many of the restaurants and stores would be closed for the season but we needed a quick getaway and decided to see what our favorite place looked like in the winter.
I didn’t think it was possible to fall any deeper in love with the Cape than I already was. I was wrong.
My seasonal blues were lifted away the second I caught sight of the ocean. The raw desolate landscape was captivating. The air was crisp. And the winter ocean was simply magnificent. The towns of the Outer Cape were empty in comparison to the summer crowds but there were enough people out and about to let us know that the Cape is still the place to be, even off season. Provincetown was bustling, its breweries and coffee shops full of people warming up after brisk walks on the beach, the pier, or through the narrow shop-lined streets. The few restaurants open in Wellfleet and Eastham were cozy warm serving up fresh seafood and chowders to folks sitting near fireplaces or in the windows warmed up by the winter sun.
And the beach. The beach, as always, made me smile. Unlike the beach of my hometown, I was thrilled to be spending time walking along the shore. The cold air was invigorating, the sound of the waves was soothing, and the sheer beauty of the ocean was mesmerizing. I could have sat on that mostly empty beach from sunrise to sunset, under blankets of course, happy as could be.
This winter we escaped once again to the Cape. Once again my winter blues disappeared and I came home rejuvenated and ready to power through the rest of this winter. This trip we began to seriously talk about a permanent move to the Cape and I’m beginning to think we may actually retire to this perfect strip of land seemingly on the edge of the world.
Because winter in the Cape may not be so bad.
I may even enjoy it.