The Silly Season

Tomorrow marks the opening of the silly season here on Cape Cod. Already the roads are clogged, the grocery stores jammed, and all good year-rounders transition into a sullen mode of nocturnalism and native resentment.

The first rule is never, ever go to Hyannis on a rainy day. If the touristas can’t go to the beach, then they go to the mall. All transactions — parking stickers for the beach, clamming licenses, renewal of drivers licenses — must be completed by Memorial Day or bad things will happen.

The waterways are a parade of Fiberglas and exhaust. The water turns tepid and the red tide arrives. The beaches are clogged with sunburned whiners, giving rise to my favorite summertime entertainment, Beach Theater, in which one gets to watch children enact seaside dramas for the benefit of all. Swimming is a dodgy affair (see red tide) due to the toilet habits of said children. Fishing shuts down due to the nautical parade of people wearing too little clothing in boats with too big engines.

The good news is it lasts for eight weeks. Labor Day — once the saddest day of the year — is now my happiest. The bad news is my extended family, ex-roommates, and other people I am forced into jocular familiarity with due to circumstances beyond my control, all come knocking, ready to stir things up (“Wow, have you put on weight?”) and play in what my cousin has come to dub “Camp Alky-Smoky”; where everyone over-imbibes and begins to tell each other what they really think of each other.

When I was young the alarmists used to say that Cape Cod was on the road to overdeveloped ruin, soon to become a nightmare like Long Island. Guess what? It’s gone beyond that. It’s now a year round suburb of Boston and totaly over-romanticized as a summer destination. All the smart locals sold out years ago and moved to Nova Scotia. Those of us who remain just get grumpy and grind our teeth for two months.

So I post, an hour before driving to Hyannis on the Friday before the Fourth of July on a rainy morning. Pray for me.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “The Silly Season”

  1. How fondly I remember the drives from Osterville to Hyannis in the winter season when you might see three other cars. That is when the ancient ways had not been converted to development roads and the scrub oaks and pitch pines hadn’t been mowed down for quarter acre lots.

    There is still charm on the Cape, but it is now widely dispersed in pockets that have to be discovered or re-discovered. I hope that Eagle Pond is still as charming as it once was.

    I save my yearly pilgrimages to the Cape for the two weeks that bridge Labor Day so that I get a taste of the summer madness as well as the muted relief of the summer people’s departure.

    One old timer used to call them wood ticks. “Yep,” he said, “here in the summa and gone in the winta.”


  2. Eagle Pond is still there, but jammed with dog walkers, etc. The charm persists, but it’s under siege, I just have learned to look for it in October and not 4th of July Weekend.

    I just returned from a harrowing three hour expedition to Hyannis. Nasty.

    I miss the old Cape, but all things must pass …..

    Have a grea t holiday.

  3. i spent portions of each summer down at my grandfather’s place in Orleans, so i too can look at the Cape and say “i remember when it wasn’t like this…”

    but as much as i might personally loathe the hordes of sunburned whiners, i’m learning first hand what life is like without them. i’m at the family place in Maine for the summer, and the weather here is killing local general stores, bars, restaurants and marinas.

    i tend to forget just how dependent some of these areas are on outside dollars, but life without them is tough on a lot of folks.

    none of this, of course, is to say that the Cape isn’t overcrowded – it clearly is – but that the opposite can be just as tough to weather.

  4. The Cape’s economy has moved off of the tourism dependency of the 60s and is now over-dependant on construction and the building trades. I don’t think the day-tripper, short term rental crowd is very big anymore. It’s now big second homes and people looking for the comforts of home they are used to off cape — Starbucks, etc.

    A rainy summer in the 60s and early 70s meant some very hard times for the locals over the winters.

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