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Chatham, 2012. 

Because of it’s distinct landscape and culture, the Cape has always been a special place for me. Growing up in Wareham, the ‘Gateway to Cape Cod’, I never enjoyed the summer season quite as much as many New Englanders. In fact, the droves of tourists packed in their cars, honking in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the overcrowded beaches and packed attractions, meant I rarely ventured too far from home during the warmer months. But in September, with the crowds gone, the Cape was mine to explore. 

The eerie quietness of the Cape in the off season was startling at first. I often drove for quite some time without encountering another human being. But I soon learned that the solitude has it charms.  Once I found a nice place to park overlooking a beach, I rolled down my window and shut off the car and just listened. The only sounds were the soft whistle of the wind, waves crashing on the beach below and the occasional chirping of a shorebird. 

Summer tourists often get so lost in the mundane logistics of a vacation -  getting to their hotels, unpacking their cars and plopping themselves on beach chairs  - that they can easily miss out on the most appealing aspect of Cape Cod: the landscape. I took the backroads when I could and discovered all sorts of beautiful places I might have otherwise overlooked. I just drove, keeping as close to the coast as possible. Not having anywhere to be allowed me to experience the landscape how it really is. I could stop just about anywhere on the Cape an experience a totally different landscape from another. In Provincetown, I enjoyed open views of empty beaches, the blue sky so deep that it almost turns black and dozens of seagulls fishing along the shore. Ten or fifteen minutes away and I was emerged in a dense wilderness. Walking trails took me through wonderfully quaint landscapes like ponds and forests where the only sounds come from local birds and the trickling water of a small stream.  

Despite the seeming desolation, there’s surprisingly plenty to do on the Cape during the off-season. Bundle up and immerse yourself in the winter landscape.  I simply let things happen without having any expectations. I met a surprising number of year-round residents who were more than willing to chat my ear off. This is the true, unvarnished, unpackaged essence of the Cape - a culture that gets glossed over and goes underground when the tourists and suntan oil come out in May. 

(See the entire series here.)

Tags: off-season cape cod photo essay film sean litchfield
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  11. tothemoonalice reblogged this from everythingcapecod and added:
    THIS^^ all of this is so true of the Cape, and it’s one of many reasons I’ve always longed to live here.
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  18. detailsitfabric said: This is a great series. As someone who spends a lot of time on Cape in the summer, I love it when I can get there in the offseason. I completely agree with your feelings about the good that comes with the emptiness.
  19. seanlitchfield posted this