It’s true. Summer on Cape Cod means so much to so many.
For those who live here for all or part of the year, these magical 12 weeks are packed with social gatherings and trying to check things off the summer bucket lists we created in the dead of winter. For most small businesses headquartered here, the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day is when we take a deep breath, say goodbye to sleep and fun, and do what it takes to make most of the income that sustains us year round.
What’s also true is that most Cape Codders at some point lament the frenetic energy summer brings. Those optimistic bucket lists usually become a pipe dream by Fourth of July weekend when we remember the pain of traffic (forget about making any left turns), waiting in lines, having to share our favorite spots, and of course the endless houseguests (we love you! But it’s a lot …). Almost all of us complain that we don’t get to fully enjoy the peninsula in all its warm and sunny glory and long for the off-season’s more relaxed pace.
By all accounts, we are bound for a “muted summer season” because of this damn global pandemic. The Cape is undoubtedly going to be a little quieter this year, and maybe that can be a good thing?
Before you curse at us through that face mask … hear us out.
Trust us, as small business owners and advocates – we get it. A slow start to the high season is not ideal for anyone, and many of us have already spent a lot of time over the last nearly 90 days figuring out how to make lemonade out of these far-too-tart pandemic lemons. The reality is that this summer might not look the way we planned, but the sweet part for locals and summer residents is that we actually have an opportunity to enjoy Cape Cod in a way that’s not often possible, all while supporting our small business community when they need it most!
Think about all the things you never get to do in the summer months because it’s too crowded or there’s not enough time. You can’t explore another town because it will take forever to get there. You can’t shop in local boutiques because you can never find parking on Main Street. You can’t try a new local restaurant because the wait for a table is too long. The local farm stand ran out of produce. The beach is too crowded. You can’t get a tee time. Tickets to a show are sold out.
Pull out that summer bucket list, people, because now’s your chance to explore, connect, shop, support, and enjoy like a tourist! Don’t have a list? Here are some ideas to inspire yours:
Bring a picnic to the beach with takeout from an old favorite or a new discovery. Browse a local boutique or bookstore online or curbside. Rent a motorboat and cruise Nantucket Sound or a kayak and explore the creeks. Ride the bike trail and stop by a local coffee shop for a snack to-go. Attend a local film festival or music event virtually from your back deck. Pick up all your beach and backyard gear at a locally owned general store. Host a (physically distant, socially engaged) dinner at home featuring fresh-caught local fish and just-picked farm stand veggies. Take advantage of lighter traffic and venture beyond your town.
The point is: A simpler summer might do us all some good. There’s no sugarcoating it – this year has been a real letdown. Together, we can make the best of what’s left of it by shifting our expectations, getting creative, and supporting our local businesses who need us now in a big way. Be kind, be adventurous, follow the rules, and have some good old-fashioned summer fun!