Saturday, June 22, 2024

Life in Provincetown

I'm asked a lot what it's like to live in Provincetown. 

This is a coastal town on at the end of a peninsula, at the very tip of Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, in New England, on the Atlantic Ocean. The year round population is around 3,600, and about 55% of housing is seasonal. In the summer season, there can be up to 60,000 people here vacationing and enjoying the beaches, the harbor, the restaurants, art galleries, shopping, and nightlife. 

The question I'm asked the very most is what is it like to live in Provincetown in the winter.

I'll answer that first. It's quiet and local and beautiful. Whether it's a brisk winter day when your cheeks freeze, or a snowstorm when you hunker inside, or a wild wind and rain that blows and shakes the roofs and windows, we can't avoid the elements here. We're vulnerable to floods and storms, but mostly, if you live here, you can't help but be part of the weather patterns. Sudden and dark clouds blowing into the local bay are a magnificent sight. You learn to keep track of the forecasts and the tides.

Winter is also a time to leisurely catch up with friends. In the summer, most of us are busy with vacationing visitors, so to be able to cook and gallivant and share special meals with special people is a treat. It's made more so by the quiet outside. Janet and I live on one of the only two main streets in and out of Ptown, so the silence is a luxurious backdrop to socializing. And the time to quietly read or write or paint or veg out on Netflix--that's luxurious too.

Whether you've been here a hundred times or one time or never, most people think of Ptown as a beach town. The Cape Cod National Seashore protects almost 44,000 acres of land here. This includes a forty mile stretch of unspoiled sandy beaches in Outer Cape Cod. Ptown has its fair share of those beaches and its spectacular sand dunes, so beach life is naturally what comes to mind.

For many out-of-towners, it's a huge surprise that we residents are always attuned to coyotes, and we know that during mating season we can't let our smaller dogs off leash or unprotected. We aren't afraid of the many local foxes we commonly see scurrying along the streets and in and out of yards, and we pretty much ignore the turkeys who travel in groups and complain like old grouches. 

And living here in summer: that too is miraculous. By Memorial Day, the repairs and renovations that started in March are done and the town is ready to showcase its best appearance. It's no longer inexpensive to visit here: hotels can easily pull in $300-plus a night, and even lunch for two will too often top $50. But there's plenty to do that cost nothing. By August the bay and ocean waters are a warm 80 degrees. There are colorful scallop shells all along the beaches, the whale watches will take your breath away, and the 'be-yourself' vibe is contagious. Ptown is the one of gayest places in America, and home to more than 60 art galleries. The Friday Night gallery strolls are invigorating, and the many restaurants and bars and cafes are excellent. 

And the shoulder seasons--spring and fall: the best of all. There is not a more beautiful place to be in September and October in all the world. Ask anyone who knows, and they'll agree. 

Most of all, whatever the season, uou can be yourself here. You'll probably feel extra creative here. It's easy to fall into the rhythm of the tides here. In short, it's a gift to live in Provincetown. A huge gift.

PS I will love your comments. Many will show up as Anonymous, so please include your name xo















13 comments:

  1. Beautiful to see and wonderful to read - thank you Karen!

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  2. Very well done thanks for sharing ❤️👌

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  3. Love your article it explains Ptown so well....love it there‼️ great job Karen pictures are awesome

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  4. I little bit of heaven, it looks and sounds wonderful.

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    1. Hi pixie, just as nice as your beautiful yard. Love kj

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  5. So many questions!

    "during mating season we can't let our smaller dogs off leash or unprotected."

    Surely, hungry coyotes eat small dogs (and cats) even when said coyotes aren't horny, so what's different during mating season--do sex-crazed male coyotes roam the town like hopped-up Hells Angels raping tabby cats and beautiful but Westies, and if so, what becomes of the offspring of such unions?

    Aren't most of the houses empty in winter, and isn't that a little sad; do some tourists prefer to visit in winter; do many residents develop an interest in the early religious fanatics who came to the area in search of what they euphemistically called "religious freedom"; is there a Walmart; is it a long drive to a city that has a plentitude of medical facilities, and do you have to make that drive very often; how did an area that was settled by religious right-wingers become noted for its left-wing politics and lack of religious fervor; are local Wiccans of the opinion that they got the last laugh; do some people move there and not like it, and if so what is it that they object to; and, finally, when you get really, really old, will you be able to stay in the town that you've come to love?

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    1. You clearly know, 8. I wish I could bottle the ocean breeze. It is all so special. I hope will come one of these days. Any chance? 💜

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    2. My Boston daughter was just there. They sleep on their boat at the wharf. Perhaps next time they go, I'll hitch a ride.

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    3. 8, yes!!!

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  6. I grew up in a beach community and this post, and the photos, have me feeling nostalgic. There is nothing like breathing in that salty air, or watching snow disappear into the ocean. I miss it terribly, although mountain lakes are not too shabby either.


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  7. snow, to answer your questions:
    Aren't most of the houses empty in winter, and isn't that a little sad; we love winter. there are an increasing number of occupied places in winter, by second home owners. But we full-time residents love our cozy winters.

    do some tourists prefer to visit in winter: Not really, but New Years, Valentine's, etc weekends are definitely active.

    do many residents develop an interest in the early religious fanatics who came to the area in search of what they euphemistically called "religious freedom"; no, but this is a place to express yourself and your beliefs freely.

    is there a Walmart; is it a long drive to a city that has a plentitude of medical facilities, and do you have to make that drive very often; There are no chains except one CVS and I think a Sub way. We drive 45 minutes to the 'little city' of Orleans and an hour to the 'big city' of Hyannis. Medical facilities as we age is indeed a concern, but we have an excellent local health center and urgent care right down the street from us. Major issues: many folks including us head to Boston.

    how did an area that was settled by religious right-wingers become noted for its left-wing politics and lack of religious fervor; are local Wiccans of the opinion that they got the last laugh; I have no idea

    do some people move there and not like it, and if so what is it that they object to; it can be lonely for some folks and it's increasingly expensive to live here. The latter is a huge problem.

    and, finally, when you get really, really old, will you be able to stay in the town that you've come to love? Good question: at some point JB and I will likely move near our family. But Ptown has excellent condo housing attached to both an assisted living and nursing home. We could happily end up there. But more likely, we'll be near our daughter a couple of hours away.

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  8. Oh wow! you make me want to be there! If only it wasn't half way across the world!! - How do we know

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    1. Hello hdwk! I know, we are so far apart but I like so much that we stay in touch. I’m glad to share these photos. I’m in awe of them myself 💜

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