A Sentimental Journey to Falmouth
Jul 13, 2022 at 8:00 AM in Things to Do by
I embarked upon a special visit to Falmouth, Massachusetts in May, largely to relive some of the good times I experienced there with two very special women in my life: my mother and her best friend, Eleanor, who was like a dear auntie to me. I lost both of them this past year, so I felt the need to “find them” in a different way. I intuitively knew that I’d embrace their spirit in many wondrous ways in a place that was near and dear to all three of us.
Mom and I had visited Eleanor many times in her Cape Cod cottage. Together we went to the beach, enjoyed dining out and did lots of shopping. We also spent plenty of time tucked into her little house reminiscing and delighting in delicious food and drink that we had procured from nearby restaurants and shops. (Yes, it is possible to enjoy a succulent lobster roll as takeout, especially when accompanied with an iced cold gin and tonic on a hot summer’s day.)
But this was to be my first time there by myself. And I’m happy to report that I had a beautiful stay.
I first stopped for lunch at the Pickle Jar on Main Street and by the end of the meal, I felt awash with their spirit. I felt overcome with the feeling that Mom and El were with me, that many parts of these important ladies in my life remained within me. And they would always be there; I just needed to dial them up.
It was surprising to learn that the Pickle Jar had been open for ten years. How could Mom and I have missed this cute little eatery? And how come Eleanor didn’t tell us about it? But there’s no doubt that we were there together on that bright Sunday afternoon.
After lunch I found myself embarking upon some retail therapy, which was not surprising because that’s what the three of us liked to do whether together or separately. Plus, with so many boutique-y like places in Falmouth, the shopping scene here must be one of the best on the Cape.
I ambled into Sea Bags, a place that Mom and I had checked out once before. We loved their handcrafted bags made from 100% recycled sail cloth. This time their perky bags spoke to me even more and I settled on a small tote emblazoned with a big raspberry-colored heart. Good purchase, Bethie, I heard Mom say.
I could have lost myself for hours at LeRoux Kitchen, a marvelous kitchen store that’s a chef’s dream. Mom was a wonderful cook and I’m sure she loaded up on a variety of gadgets and supplies here on her solo trips to the Cape. This time I was poking around by myself (well almost) and picked up a few trinkets for my own kitchen.
After a quick pop into our all-time favorite place, Maison Villatte, for a couple of pastries. I decided it was time to check into The Coonnamessett, a landmark inn in Falmouth that ranked as Eleanor’s favorite. Mom and I had never stayed there but we had enjoyed at least a couple of meals there with Eleanor over the years. Plus, this is where a small gathering took place after her service. I knew that staying here would be one more way of finding closure on this dear friend’s passing.
After I checked in, I switched to full-on travel writer mode. I also felt like I was channeling Eleanor because she never hesitated to ask for what she wanted (and she always seemed to obtain it, especially when traveling. I’m the same way and as I pondered this, I could see my mom rolling her eyes at how outspoken Eleanor and I could be in such hospitality-world situations). Before I even entered my room, I could tell that it was facing the road and had no access to the outdoors. No, no, no, no, this was to be a special time and not just a place to sleep. Since it was a Sunday, I was able to talk the management into a nice upgrade that landed me in a spacious suite with a view of the Coonnamessett River. (Let that be a lesson to you, dear reader, that you should always speak up and ask for an upgrade or perhaps a little extra something that strikes your fancy.)
This historic property had recently been freshened up and transformed into a whiter, brighter version of its original self. I found this new look to be fabulous but couldn’t help but wonder what Mom and El would think of it. I imagined the three of us discussing the merits of this renovation and once again, I felt like we were all together. We had all checked in at the same time.
I travel with a little electric teapot since it’s not always easy to make a good cuppa in your room. I put on “the kettle,” then brewed a delicious cup of Early Grey to enjoy with one of my pastries from Maison Villatte. Of course I remembered the many times that Mom, Eleanor and I enjoyed tea and cakes from this fabulous pâtisserie, one that rivals the best of those found in Paris.
For dinner, I decided to go to Soprano’s, a seaside restaurant where Mom and I dined the last time we were in Falmouth together. (And long before that, there was another restaurant at this locale where Mom, Eleanor, my father-who passed in 2016-and I enjoyed a fun-filled lunch. ) As I walked on the beach before dinner, I marveled at how I was reliving so many of our memories while also discovering new places that I know we would have enjoyed together.
I primped some in the car before going to dinner. I brushed my windblown hair and put on some fuschia-colored Yves Saint Laurent lipstick that Eleanor had given me. Even in her Lanz nightgown, she always made sure to wear a brightly-colored lipstick. I must wear lipstick more, I thought. I ordered a Prosecco to toast these important ladies in my life and enjoyed a delicious dinner of homemade clam chowder and buttery scallops, two selections that Eleanor always recommended we have when on the Cape.
I slept very well that night, surely soothed by memories of my loved ones and times shared in Falmouth.
After a leisurely breakfast at The Coonnamessett, I embarked upon more of a trip down memory lane, this time to important sites and beaches that I had visited with my favorite people: Falmouth Heights Beach, Menauhant Beach, Nobska Lighthouse, Woods Hole–what a parade of images I experienced in reality and in my mind.
My stay in the area concluded with a seafood lunch at Landfall Restaurant in Woods Hole. Eleanor and I had enjoyed drinks here together during one of the visits when I came alone and I know that she and Mom had dined here in previous years. This time the restaurant was quiet and I was seated at a corner table where I could gaze out at the water, watching boats bob on the Sound and The Steamship Authority ferry goers come and go (to and from Martha’s Vineyard). Behind me, I picked up on bits of a conversation that a mother and daughter was having. They were enjoying a belated Mother’s Day lunch and seeing them celebrating in such a way warmed my heart.
When I left the restaurant, I was tempted to stop and wish them a nice time together and to tell them to enjoy every moment of it. Not necessary, I thought. They were happy to be there together; they were creating special memories, most surely memories that would be relieved in many ways in years to come.
Travel conjures up so many powerful feelings, particularly when you’re reliving memories and creating new ones in old familiar places. I can hardly wait for my next trip to this beautiful Upper Cape destination.
I hope this story inspires you to seek out and create some special memories connected to your loved ones, too.