When does summer begin?

Friday 29 May 2015 — Port-O-Call: Cockle Cove, Chatham — Memorial Day weekend (traditional)

I still refer to Memorial Day as “Decoration Day.” I’m a traditionalist. Our new-fangled “Memorial Day” arrived early this year, but I prefer the old ways. Changing the date just to create a three-day weekend has contributed to the public’s nonchalant observance. We’ve forgotten what we were remembering (the Civil War dead).

Memorial Day was once considered the beginning of summer. Here on Cape Cod, however, when someone these days asks when summer begins, answers will vary. Nobody really cares except the merchants — and perhaps those who will find themselves gridlocked in traffic. With many schools and colleges adjourning at the end of June, summer practically begins on the Fourth of July.

Cape Codders are concerned not so much with when summer begins as with when winter ends. We skip spring entirely. It will be coat-weather one day and beach-weather the next. Spring on Cape Cod lasts approximately 12 hours. 

For me, winter ends not with an officially designated date but with an event. That event is the Annual Daffodil Tea held at the charming home of Nathaniel (Nat) and Joy Wordell of Cockle Cove, Chatham. It’s something to look forward to during a dreary Cape Cod winter. 

The Daffodil Tea, in my opinion, is just as significant a social event as the Ascot Races or a White House black-tie dinner. Not to appear elitist, dear readers, but I received a coveted invitation.

On the day of the Daffodil Tea, I donned my tasteful yet unpretentious London Fog jacket, not only because it was chilly but, more importantly, because the jacket is daffodil yellow. One does have to be conscious of what one wears to such prestigious events. A photograph may well appear in the society pages of the local newspaper (although I didn’t notice any paparazzi lurking behind the rhododendron bushes).

We begin with a tour of Nat’s gardens, which overlook both the salt marshes of Cockle Cove and Nantucket Sound. If you imagine Cape Cod as a bent arm, Cockle Cove is located at the very tip of the elbow, what some refer to as the “funny bone.” Nat is a music teacher by profession; and a gardener, chef, and potter by avocation. 

After we toured the studio showroom and private gardens, it seemed a bit too cool to linger outside on the veranda, so our party of six withdrew to the manor’s wood-paneled great room, with its breathtaking views of Cockle Cove.

We first told stories of the winter now past. Photographs were shared on the outside chance that someone had already forgotten the 10-foot snowdrifts. We then proceeded to the formal dining room, with its antique oak barley-twist legged table and massive arched hearth.

Nat served his secret family recipe for quahog chowder in lovely deep blue pottery bowls which he himself had thrown, glazed, and fired in his workshop. I had two servings of chowder, just to be polite of course. Also on the menu were dainty ham and beef sandwich rolls; edamame salad (prepared by Cynthia Engel, who lives in a sea captain’s home on Scargo Lake); and, for dessert, delicious apple tarts (made by Gina Cavalluzzo, also of historic Dennis Village). 

These rose-shaped tarts were red (as befitting any traditional rose) and seemed to me to be pastry-wrapped bacon — an observation I foolishly voiced. The “bacon” was in fact sliced red apples, purposely left unpeeled. One is permitted a single social faux pas per tea, according to all the etiquette mavens. 

As the sun streamed through the windows, the conversation turned to theatre and the performing arts, collectibles, family, parish life, past memories and future plans.  

After the conversation’s dénouement, we departed with hopeful promises to regroup next year. 

Unfortunately, nobody thought to have a spot of tea. Even so, there were still daffodils everywhere — which makes it undeniably the official end of winter. Welcome summer!

Scargo Lake edamame salad


• Edamame (fresh or frozen)
• Frozen corn
• Diced sweet red peppers
• Cranberries (previously soaked overnight in balsamic vinegar, if desired; then rinsed and drained) 
• Italian black beans (if fresh, soak overnight; if canned, drain and rinse)
• Balsamic vinaigrette dressing 

Prepare as much edamame as you might need. Add frozen corn, diced sweet red pepper, and cranberries. Toss and serve with balsamic vinaigrette. Add sugar if desired. 

Gina’s apple tarts


• 1 small apple, peeled, cored, cut into 8 (1/2-inch) slices
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon apple pie spice

Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. Set aside. In small bowl, toss apple slices in melted butter; set aside. Separate dough into eight triangles. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and apple pie spice. Divide mixture evenly among triangles. Top each triangle with apple slice. Starting at short side of each triangle, wrap dough around apple. Place on cookie sheet. Brush with remaining butter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until rolls are golden brown and apples softened. Cool five minutes.

Anchor columnist Father Tim Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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