Outer Cape Cod in Spring
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It’s a light that glows from within, like driving into an Edward Hopper painting. Bright, buttery, demanding, it glances off the water and sinks into the sand and sea-weathered shingles. Paint me, notice me, it whispers–I’m spring for your eyes and soul.
We’re here at the gateway to the Outer Cape, a spit of land that coils around on itself like a nautilus shell, pressed between the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay. Glorious in any season, it’s perilously fresh in spring–clean, golden, uncrowded. Crisp breezes, a jumble of cottages and seagulls, whales and waking businesses.
No stranger to multiple personalities (sleepy Truro, artsy Wellfleet, hyper Provincetown), this part of the Cape reveals a whole other persona in early spring. In the gap between low season and high, it feels more hometown, less charged, but with an underlying sense of anticipation–like broken-in khakis and a slouchy sweater you can’t wait to pull on.
Frankly, we can’t wait. Right now it feels as though we’re driving toward summer, having left winter only a few stops ago. We survived a shattering ice storm, lifted the last shovelful of snow, burned the final log, and now we’re teetering on the brink of spring fever. At land’s end, where the dunes embrace the sea, the light is changing. One little nudge will push us over.
Mid-April, and an exceptionally warm weekend is predicted. We drive south, then east on Route 6, stopping at Orleans for the night. This bustling hub straddles the edges of the Outer Cape and offers our first glimpse of Cape Cod National Seashore, unfurling between here and Provincetown.
Our B&B, the Ship’s Knees Inn, is a pretty, dark-silver, shingled home from the 1820s, only a five-minute walk from the town’s Nauset Beach: nine miles of silky white sand and rowdy waves, and at this time of year almost deserted except for surfers, bobbing like seals.
Tonight we’re dining at ABBA. No relation to Swedish pop singers (the name means “father” in Aramaic), this beguilingly simple restaurant is the work of chef/owner Erez Pinhas, and his wife, Christina Bratberg. The menu is a warm, spicy blend of Thai and Mediterranean: wine from the Golan Heights; delicate grilled tuna; pan-seared striped bass with ginger-scallion sauce.
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