While I’m writing my blog I’ll oftentimes have to stop myself mid sentence. I’ll read back what I’ve written and realize that I’ve made a mistake. It is almost instinct for me to write “Cape and Islands” sometimes instead of Cape Cod.

This is easy for me to understand. The phrase “Cape and Islands” is everywhere. Businesses, radio stations, that one really annoying jingle for the glass company. People like to say “Cape and Islands” instead of just Cape Cod. I don’t know why, but they do.

But this blog isn’t about Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket or any of the Elizabeth Islands or even that one island that’s south of Martha’s vineyard called “Noman’s Land”. Speaking of, by the way, isn’t it weird how that exists? Like there’s this whole other island right beneath Martha’s Vineyard that none ever talks about. I’m pretty sure it’s a nature reserve that no one is supposed to go on which is interesting because I’m pretty confident that there’s a little rowboat in the Google Maps satellite image of the island. Then again, maybe the boat’s supposed to be there, I really don’t know anything about the island.

Nomans Land, the island south of Martha’s Vineyard. Photo from Google Maps.

And that’s why This blog is about Cape Cod and not about the Islands. Sure I’ve been to them but I don’t know anything about them, so would it be fair to me to present my ideas, thoughts, ramblings, etc. about the Islands with the presumption that I know what I’m talking about included in the fact that I’m writing a blog? On the other hand, would it be fair to use the term “Cape and Islands” when writing my blog if, due to my caution against misrepresenting them, I never discussed the islands at all? Either way, it’s not a great look.

Instead, I’ve opted to ignore the islands entirely and pretend they don’t exist unless there’s a really good joke about them that I can think of. Apologies to any readers from the islands but this strategy isn’t all too different from how just about everyone on Cape that I know acts anyways.

Allow me to do a full inventory of every time I’ve ever even thought about the islands excluding the times when I’ve looked at a map or a Vineyard Vines jacket and suddenly remembered their existence. I went to Penikese island when I was a kid and we stopped at Cuttyhunk on the way back. My middle school baseball team played in the same league as the Vineyard and Nantucket teams, as did my high school varsity chess team, so I went over a few times for some away games. There was also one time when I saw a Martha’s Vineyard custom license plate and honestly I had a stronger feeling of “wow, they’ll give a vanity plate to anyone” than when I saw those awful “Choose Life” plates. 

I’m not a woman so I don’t really have a right to tell anyone how to feel about abortion, but who’s gonna have their mind changed on such a controversial topic by a vanity license plate?

Anyways, excluding those few times, the islands never really come up in my day-to-day life on Cape, which I can only imagine must be a little unfair. I don’t know exactly how unsustainable life is on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the other ones that I literally cannot be bothered to look up (or even look back just a few paragraphs) to see how they’re spelled, but I do know that it’s gotta be unsustainable. I could spend my entire life on Cape Cod, not cross the bridge once, and not have any issues beyond getting seriously bored with my surroundings and missing out on the 8th grade field trip to Washington DC. But that can’t really be done on the Islands. 

I know that’s a weird hurdle to have to jump through and that it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to never have any inkling of wanting to move around at all, but the point is that while Cape Codders can get away with ignoring the Islands, Islanders can’t get away with ignoring the Cape.

This must be an interesting way to live. If you wanna visit family, you gotta take the ferry. If you have to run to the RMV (we call the “Registries of Motor Vehicles” and not “Departments of Motor Vehicles” in Massachusetts) then you gotta take the ferry. Even if you have a car, it’s gotta be taken over on the ferry. The ferry is an intrinsic part of life over there, even more so than the bridges are to Cape Codders. Granted, those examples I used were mostly wrong because Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard both have airports and RMV service centers. Plus I’m sure someone has managed to get a car over there while dodging that $180 (maybe by helicopter?). Regardless, living that island life must be weird.

So why does anyone do it? I’ve only been there for a few sports games (yes, I’m including the chess games in that group) so I know my perception of them is a little shifted, but I didn’t notice anything that screamed out to me as worth the ferry ride. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good ferry ride, but it sounds a bit much. At least to me. And yet, people still do it. Hell, they even did it before the ferry. Nantucket was established in 1641, Martha’s Vineyard a year later in 1642. That last sentence also happens to be entirely irrelevant, because the Wampanoag have been living on both Islands for centuries before and after European contact, albeit much less of them in the centuries after. I wonder why that is?

Genocide aside, (punintended) (is that in bad taste?) people have been living on these islands long before even the ferry that we use to gain access to them. So my question remains: Why? They’re isolated, they’re boring, they’re not exactly Siberia but the weather isn’t great. Why would anyone want to live on the Islands?

I suppose the only answer is the same that George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest: Because it’s there. 

A movie came out a while ago based on the Clifford the Big Red Dog books. These books and the PBS television show (the 2000 one, not the 2019 relaunch, I’m not that young) were a pretty big part of my childhood. I didn’t see the movie because even though I’m vaccinated you couldn’t pay me to walk into a public movie theater right now, but I did watch some trailers online. While it looked fun, I was a little disappointed to find out the setting would be New York City and not Bridwell Island, the fictional island that Clifford and Emily Elizabeth call home. Bridwell Island is named for Norman Bridwell, Clifford’s creator, and it’s heavily inspired by Martha’s Vineyard, the island that he, his wife Norma, and their daughter Emily Elizabeth Bridwell lived on from 1969 until his death in 2014. Learning that the movie wouldn’t have an island connection made me a little sad, even though, as I have attempted to prove in this blog post, I don’t have an island connection either.

The poster for Clifford the Big Red Dog, featuring Clifford and friends in a place that looks nothing like Martha’s Vineyard

Cape Cod isn’t an island (depending on whom you ask). But it is a water-adjacent geographical feature in the Southeast of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Us water-adjacent geographical features in the Southeast of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts gotta stick together. We gotta look out for each other. So on behalf of Cape Codders everywhere, I’m sorry, Islands, that we ignore you so much

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