Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'Tis the Off-Season

Seaside Bicycles
The holiday rush of the city really got to us this year, and we wanted to be some place quiet. So for the days leading up to Christmas, we stayed on Cape Cod. 

And quiet it was. Turns out Provincetown has chosen this winter to repave its roads and fix its sidewalks, so basically the whole town was dug up and closed to motorised traffic. 

But despite the roadwork, many of the businesses remained open, catering to locals and to the occasional visitor. The result was the sort of insular pedestrian small-town atmosphere that has long ceased to exist under normal circumstances. People said hello to each other on the streets. The phrase "How are you?" was interpreted as a question, rather than a greeting, and detailed answers were given. Merely seeing each other walking, or cycling around the town center had created a sense of relaxed familiarity among everyone present, however temporary. 

Men on Bikes
Even in the busiest, most hectic part of summer, what I like about Provincetown is how relaxed and unaggressive it is. Bikes, pedestrians, cars. Tourists, summer people, locals. Gay, straight, undefined. Somehow, all of these categories are simply combined, without being pitted against each other. They are separated by "and" and not "versus." It's a microcosm that does not reflect the reality of life elsewhere. But at least it shows that, in theory, it's possible for people to function like this. And in the off season, with everyone squeezed into the same couple of bars and coffee shops after hours, this became all the more apparent. 

Provincetown Off-Season
Last year I mentioned noticing more incidents of aggressive and inattentive drivers over the winter holidays in Boston, and this time around it seems even worse. First it was the rush of last minute Christmas shopping. Now I guess it's the post-Christmas sales. Soon it will be New Year parties. Whatever it is, drivers on the roads just seem so impatient and angry right now. Sure, they might arrive to their holiday parties smiling, saying all the requisite niceties and exchanging beautifully wrapped gifts. But what's the point, if for entire weeks leading up to this they are filled with such stress, that rage is boiling just beneath the surface? I couldn't even feel annoyed at the woman who laid on her horn and shouted when I took too long making a left turn the other day. Obviously something other than me on my bike must have been the real cause of her anger. So I try to be extra cautious on the roads. And I try to not fall into the stress trap myself. No big plans. No pressure. No stress. That's my plan into the New Year.

25 comments:

  1. And a good plan it is! Have a happy new year.

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  2. I love Provincetown.

    One of my best memories is from a vacation there. I was out pushing my infant twin boys in their double stroller, just walking around, and I stopped at a window to read the menu. This was next to an inn or boarding house or something that had a veranda, and there were usually a dozen or so leathermen lounging and posing on it.

    It wasn't until I finished reading the menu and started pushing the stroller again that my short-term auditory memory kicked in, and I realized what I'd heard a few seconds earlier was a unison bass/baritone chorus of AWWWWWWW.

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  3. I know what you mean. I have been noticing a serious increase in aggressive behaviour myself from people in general and have speculated about why here: http://lightandwheels.blogspot.ca/2012/10/bicycle-ambassador.html

    Your advice about taking it easy, no stress, no pressure, no big plans is wonderful, and is something well worth pursuing.

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  4. A gingerbread house! Do you have pictures of the whole thing?

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    1. I'll try to post some of the entire facade. It's an art gallery.

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    2. Awesome! I love gingerbread houses:) Provincetown looks like such a fun place to enjoy the holidays, Happy New Year to you!
      Amy

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  5. Cycling (not off-season for cat food) PeppyDecember 26, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Don't forget to feed it.

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  6. I really like going to the beach (shore!) off season. A special kind of melancholia. The lack of frenetic activity from the summer months is unique. Slower, greyer, thoughtful. I think I need to update the family calendar for the next few days!

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  7. Will there soon be a follow-up to your '14 Months Without a Car' of Tuesday, January 31, 2012?

    Interested.

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    1. Still without a car, but not sure I have anything significant to add. I'll give it some thought and post an update.

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  8. Velouria = Variety. You always surprise and delight! Thanks!

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  9. i kinda enjoy a bit of stress now and again while commuting and otherwise riding....or at least i accept it and find the energy different from the more peaceful rides w/o cars and horns and rushed drivers.

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  10. I actually went into the city for christmas to see some family and ended up having to stay overnight which meant today was especially horrific. It was nice not to do 'christmas', go to a movie and to an indian restaurant(loads of people had the same idea, it was packed!), it was fairly quiet. But today was something else entirely...frightening to see how many people were shopping. From what I could tell nothing was really that cheap, or the 'good stuff' wasn't on sale at all. It's well known the stores are trying to get rid of old stock and fool customers with the illusion of getting a deal. We went to visit my husband's daughter at her job in a mall and it was so scary! I could not breathe, every inch of floor was covered with people, and once I got back downtown there were shoppers everywhere too. The ferry was very late because of all the traffic and the foot passengers were getting antsy....glad to get home.
    Pre christmas was fine as we live in a rural area and could avoid most of the fuss, but had to try avoid the angry last minute rush drivers. Even in the boonies people are becoming much more aggressive regardless of christmas and it is nerve wracking-especiallly as people come up for the holidays and are itching to speed after the ferry ride. The rich plutocrats have arrived in their surreal cars to go to their holiday homes for five minutes. The other day we had just set off to bike into town and were passed by a new rolls royce on our mucky dirt road-never seen it before. Anyway, these $$$ vehicles tend to be scary as they assume they have authority and the right of way, do not slow down for cyclists or pedestrians. I guess they want to drive their fine autos like they are in car commercials, not real life. Across the board I see more and more aggression, outright disregard for the law, courtesy and safety. I do not enjoy being an angry cyclist, but I've been tested lately. I've been biking for transport etc for 20 years, and it's one thing to expect rude aggression towards cyclists, but the road rage and sense of entitlement is striking.
    Happy Holidays and hope you are still in Cape Cod enjoying the calm.

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  11. There is something delicious about the seaside in winter. Tolerance and melancholia, yes, juxtaposed to a bright, cold sting in the air. We discovered those off-season pleasures in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Sharing them with our dog, we witnessed his pique at being licked on the belly by a rogue wave. Twice he ran in a circle, leapt and snapped his jaws. Must've been chilly!

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  12. I remember staying in the country with my grandparents for 2 weeks at a time when I was young. It was a sparsely-populated place with farms and a small town. Everyone was friendlier and strangers would wave when passed on the roads. Things were less hurried and people seemed to value each others company more. I think crowding has a lot to do with aggression in cities and on the roads. Your holiday sounds wonderful.

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  13. Well, a season of another sort just ended here in Connecticut...though the rain may get some of the guck off the streets soon. When I lived in WI, this kind of snow never bothered me, but the streets are narrower here, and the drivers more numerous (if more courteous).

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  14. Dan Ray on WBZ in Boston is starting an on the air campaign to take bikes off the road during the winter months. He will be bringing it up on the radio this next week. He also wants to tax cyclists because they use the road too.

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    1. Oh no. Just when everything is going well, Boston has to keep doing things like this. Grrrrr

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  15. Dan is a moron, but even morons should not have their names mangled. Dan Rea.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Can one bike from Boston to Provincetown?

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    1. It's 130 miles from Boston proper, a common group ride destination. I have not done the route yet, but would like to in 2013.

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    2. I did South Boston to Provincetown a few years back. A nice ride.

      City limits to around Plymouth is nothing to get excited about. I understand some people take the train to Plymouth.

      Between Plymouth and the canal there is a lot of semi rural and suburban type riding until the old (and pretty scary) bridge over the canal.

      After that all trails and pleasant roads through classic Cape second home country. Get some food and drink in Provincetown, then take the ferry back.

      Fun way to spend a day.

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