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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cape Cod and the Cranberry

Labor Day has gone, but as the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce announced immediately after the passing of the tropical storm Irene, Cape Cod is open for business. In fact, we are very busy at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast and the weather has been great. So great in fact, that so far in September, we have served breakfast to our guest on our garden patio more often than weather permitted in July and August.

As fall approaches, the focus shifts from beach activities to more foliage and seasonal celebrations. The scenic and bucolic drive along Route 6A, the Old Kings Highway, is always beautiful, but is enriched now by the changing colors in the trees and the maturing cranberry bogs. 6A is dotted with working cranberry bogs, which evolve from a mousy brown to bright green as the harvest approaches. When the bogs are flooded for a ‘wet harvest’ and the red fruit floats to the top, our country lanes are bedazzling with a patchwork of brilliant greens and reds.

Cape Cod and New England have a long history with the cranberry, that little red berry that graces almost everyone’s table at least once a year on Thanksgiving Day. The cranberry, the blueberry, and the Concord grape are believed to be the only three native, American fruits. All other fruits were brought to America from other parts of the world. The cranberries special place as part of our traditional Thanksgiving Day meal reflects it significance to the Native American Indians who shared that first meal with the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Indians used the versatile wild berry as food, a fabric dye, and a healing agent in addition to using it as a key item of barter.

Today, the cranberry is still an important part of the agricultural life of Massachusetts. Over 12,000 acres of cranberries are grown in the Southeastern corner of the state, and it is still the number one cash crop. Cranberries are harvested between mid-September and the end of November. Besides adding great color to our landscape, the cranberry and its annual harvest is a cause for celebration and another reason to visit us at our Sandwich Inn.

A great annual event is the Cranberry Harvest Celebration sponsored by the Cape Cod Cranberry Association and A.D. Makepeace Company. The two-day event on October 8-9, 2011 is held in Wareham, MA. Centered at the Tihonet Village Market, it includes cranberry information, local food vendors, unique arts and crafts, plus activities for children.  See the complete schedule of events and directions. If you look closely you may even see those two characters from the Ocean Spray Cranberry commercials, one of the event sponsors.

So it may be fall, but there is still lots to do on our little slice of heaven we call Cape Cod. 

Charlie Preus, Innkeeper's Assistant, and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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