Just when you think you've seen it all ...
The Cape and its denizens perform, invent, collect, cook up, frame, save, resuscitate new things to do
There's little doubt that on Cape Cod, where thousands return annually to air out their summer cottages or book the same two weeks at the same guest house, familiarity breeds content.
But even here, change can be good. Take the new "runway" into Hyannis: Route 132 has been widened from two lanes to four, and anyone who has joined the scrum for the Cape Cod Mall and the Christmas Tree Shops on a rainy summer day will applaud the upgrade. Among other new touches are the Hampton Inn on Route 28 in West Yarmouth, the first new motel in the area in more than 20 years, and Sweet Caroline's, an ice cream shop on Route 130 in Sandwich that, by virtue of its name alone, is likely to be an extra-base hit.
Here are 10 other promising new options for summer visitors:
"We've all been in university programs with BFAs talking about art," says Jessica Unker, the producing artistic director, about her troupe, Fish & Bicycle Theatre Company. "We don't want to just talk about it, we want to create a giant art collaborative, one giant meshing of art."
To that end, Fish & Bicycle, five performers strong, took to the beaches of the outer Cape last weekend for shows in which they used stories, poems, music, physicality - even a quest for a sea monster - in an effort to engage anyone who happened upon them.
The group came to the Cape from Atlanta, and they plan to work with established local arts groups. They also will perform original shows at sunset on Race Point Beach in Provincetown throughout July. Exactly what will take place in "The Death and Life of Pan," described as an adaptation of "Peter Pan" combined with Greek myth? Expect the audience to play a role, and be prepared for a set with a trapeze.
Visit fishandbicycle.com for show schedule.
The renowned Cape Cod Baseball League opens its 125th season June 11, but the game is always on at the league's Hall of Fame and Museum, which found a home on the lower level (a.k.a. the Dugout) of the JFK Museum on Main Street in Hyannis late last summer.
The Cape League began as a town league and evolved into the top summer destination for college prospects. More than 200 current major-leaguers have spent at least one summer playing for one of its 10 squads, including Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox.
The museum is carpeted in Astroturf, complete with batter's box, foul lines, and bases, and you can settle into an old box seat from Fenway Park to watch clips from "Touching the Game," a 2004 documentary that captures the ambience of baseball here.
Also coming this summer in the JFK Museum upstairs is an exhibit featuring replicas of clothes worn by Jacqueline Kennedy during the days of Camelot.
On the half-shell
The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers several multiday field schools, including one titled "The Nature, Culture, & Harvest of Shellfish." The school runs July 29-Aug. 1, and offers total immersion, from learning mollusk life histories and biology to identifying and understanding how oysters, mussels, quahogs, snails, and clams fit into the coastal ecosystem.
The group will explore Cape Cod Bay and Nauset Marsh, and join in a project to re-create a historic oyster reef. All the work, including learning how to shuck and prepare shellfish, will be rewarded with tastings and a group lunch.
Wellfleet Bay is also offering a new family boat trip to Sampson's Island in Barnstable, where crabs and other critters will be examined, and the area's pirate history will be explored.
Field school: $295 for Mass. Audubon members, $320 nonmembers. Boat trip: $40 members, $45 nonmembers ($10 less for ages 3-12). Route 6, South Wellfleet, 508-349-2615. www.massaudubon.org, choose Wellfleet Bay from "Find a sanctuary" dropdown menu.
Fernando Fonseca came to Cape Cod from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil eight years ago and landed a job washing dishes at the Keltic Kitchen in West Yarmouth. He worked his way up to manager, and left this winter to open Preta Café with Flavio Santos. The restaurant is in the Airport Plaza off Barnstable Road in Hyannis, and even though it just opened May 1, it is already changing course.
Fonseca, 39, wanted to offer traditional American fare with a few Brazilian specialties, but he said, "All the Americans asked, 'Where is the Brazilian food?' " A new menu focusing on Brazilian dishes debuted last week.
On a recent Saturday the cafe attracted a mix of the local Brazilian population (which numbers well over 10,000) and shoppers from TJ Maxx and Ocean State Job Lot. Among the dishes are yucca pie, fish moqueca (seafood stew), and shrimp bobo (with tomato, cilantro, onion, and yucca cream). A variety of Brazilian cakes awaits for dessert.
425 Iyanough Road, Hyannis, 774-470-1361. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Entrees $9.99-$17.99.
The Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich offers a wooded setting on Upper Shawme Pond, and you'll also see birds when you move inside the newly renovated American History Museum there. "A Bird in the Hand: The Carvings of Elmer and Cleon Crowell" gives visitors the first chance in many years to see the museum's large collection of Crowell creations.
Elmer Crowell (1862-1952) grew up in East Harwich and is known worldwide. In 2007, a Crowell pintail duck and Canada goose sold for more than $1 million apiece. The exhibit includes a replica of the workshop where he and his son Cleon created their folk art, and some of their paper patterns, source materials, and tools. Children can scout for birds on display and hear bird calls, among other activities.
67 Grove St., Sandwich, 508-888-3300. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults $12, ages 4-16 $6, 3 and under free. www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org.
The new Wicked Restaurant, with its "fire-kissed pizza" baked in a 700-degree stone hearth oven, was packed on a recent Saturday night, and with good reason. The pizza and entree selections emphasize organic ingredients and fresh, local agriculture. The light, bright, pleasing space has room for 125 patrons, including the bar area, and the restaurant is permitted to seat 25 people outside on its wide walkway when summer arrives.
Among the pizza options are the scallop BLT ($12), with sea scallops, watercress aioli, applewood bacon, tomatoes, and Gorgonzola cheese; and the Sicilian comfort ($15), with house-made sausage and meatballs, Vermont ricotta, tomato sauce, spinach, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Co-owner Robert V. Catania, who formerly worked as a chef and manager at Dan'l Webster Inn in Sandwich, thinks the timing is right for an affordable, healthy, organic menu, and the initial reception would seem to bear him out.
35 South St., South Cape Village, Mashpee, 508-477-7422. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Entrees $11.50-$28. www.wickedrestaurant.com.
The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is the obvious choice for "Under One Sky: Why Animals Matter," which opened yesterday. The exhibit highlights the mission of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, whose world headquarters is in Yarmouth Port. Children will see how IFAW improves the welfare of wild and domestic animals by protecting habitats and assisting animals in distress.
"It's about humans helping animals survive the invasion of their habitats, and animals helping humans," said Robert Dwyer, the museum's executive director. "IFAW can talk about its local whale entanglement program, and about dogs helping find people buried in earthquakes."
The museum also offers KidSummer, an eight-week program for children ages 3 to 12.
869 Main St. (Route 6A), Brewster, 508-896-3867. Daily 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. starting June 1. Adults $8, ages 3-12 $3.50, under 3 free. www.ccmnh.org.
P-town for Ehva
Ewa Nogiec, a Polish artist who has lived in Provincetown since 1983, opened Gallery Ehva last weekend to an enthusiastic reception. The gallery highlights contemporary works, including paintings, photography, mixed media, sculptures, ceramics, and art installations. It also features early Provincetown art from private collections, with works by Frank Carson, William Littlefield, and Dorothy Loeb, among others.
Nogiec is already eyeing a bit of open space on the side of the gallery for a sculpture garden. She has scheduled opening nights every other Friday from 6-8 p.m. starting June 5.
74 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown, 508-776-4856. Daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m., closed Wednesdays through June. www.galleryehva.com.
Falmouth celebrates its legacy as the girlhood home of Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful," by marking her 150th birthday. The town's Museums on the Green hosts an exhibit called "Rise and Follow Thy Dream" starting June 9, and there will be teas, evening poetry, tours of her favorite haunts, and discussions with three Bates biographers.
Bates was born in Falmouth on Aug. 12, 1859, and lived there 12 years. She graduated from Wellesley College, where she later became a professor of English. It was while teaching summer classes at Colorado College in 1893 that she visited Pikes Peak and was inspired to pen the first draft of the famous poem and hymn, which she completed in 1913. She died in 1929, and is buried in Falmouth's Oak Grove Cemetery.
Falmouth Museums on the Green, 55 and 65 Palmer Ave., 508-548-4857. www.falmouthhistoricalsociety.org/KatharineLeeBates.aspx.
Out of the ashes
In 1937, Speranza Cubellis started offering spaghetti and meatballs for 35 cents at Mezza Luna, on Main Street in Buzzards Bay. For 70 years, the Cubellis family and the restaurant grew and prospered, until a seven-alarm fire burned the restaurant to the ground in October 2007. Now the Mezza Luna lives again, rebuilt by its third-generation owner, E.J. Cubellis, 36, with its reputation as a family Italian restaurant intact.
It may be tough to get in the door on Thursdays, when Mezza Luna offers its all-you-can-eat pasta extravaganza. For $13.95, you get a choice of spaghetti, linguini, fettucini, or ziti, with meatball, sausage, and/or meat sauce with each serving.
Occasionally, something old is new again.
253 Main St., Buzzards Bay, 508-759-4667. Entrees $13.95-$28.95. www.mezzaluna.com.
Ron Driscoll can be reached at email@example.com.