Best Kept Secret

May 20, 2016

I’d like to think we all love where we live, or why would we live there? But I recall my younger days when circumstances dictated my choice of abode, like crappy college apartments or temporary living arrangements while waiting for a new opportunity to arise, and I realize that not everyone can blossom where they’re planted. I’ve only very temporarily lived outside of New England, and I continued to be called back. Certainly family and friends where a big part of that decision, but proximity to the water and stunning seasonal change are a huge part as well. Hell, even that too-long season called winter is OK for a few weeks.

It’s Cape Cod before the crowds, Westport, CT without the snobs, and historic Boston without the traffic. And that’s why I call it the Best Kept Secret.

New England has many beautiful places. People conjure up Cape Cod, the Maine coast, New Hampshire and Vermont’s mountains, the sailing Mecca of Newport, RI and Boston’s historic treasures when New England is mentioned. And I’ve actually lived in most of those places, too. Where do I live now? In New England’s Best Kept Secret.

When an area goes through revitalization and its cache is starting to attract visitors, popular consensus deems the area needs to have a name. Not just “New Bedford” or “Fairhaven” but an all-encompassing name that reaches across the towns in the greater area. And so our coastline and surrounding towns from Westport to Marion was deemed “Southcoast”. It falls between Providence, RI and Cape Cod, and is home to some of the prettiest beaches, beautiful woodlands and coolest towns in New England. It’s Cape Cod before the crowds, Westport, CT without the snobs, and historic Boston without the traffic. And that’s why I call it the Best Kept Secret.

I’d need several blogs to just hit the highlights of all the towns that are considered part of the Southcoast, so I’m just going to take you on one of my daily walks to give you a flavor of the area.

Fairhaven is a town of around 15,000, settled in the mid 1600’s and incorporated in 1812. While we do have houses dating back to the 1700’s, most of the oldest houses were built in the 1800’s by whalers and whaling captains. The Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers built the major architectural wonders of the town in the late 1800’s. I was lucky enough to attend high school in one of those magnificent buildings.

When I leave my house and head into the center of town I stroll by the Unitarian church, our town hall and the Millicent Library, named for H.H. Roger’s daughter. I pass by lovely stone and clapboard houses, and parks now bursting with flowers while getting glimpses of the harbor to the west. I pass the huge granite shipyard building where we berth our boat in the summer, and houses along the harbor, one with a hedge of lilacs now in bloom.

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Just past the lilacs is the hurricane barrier, the longest seawall on the east coast, an engineering marvel that closes New Bedford harbor off from Buzzard’s Bay during periods of higher than normal high tides, storms and hurricanes. Yesterday I saw the maiden voyage of the Seastreak, a passenger ferry leaving New Bedford for Nantucket for the first time in many years. The south end of my walk lands me at Fort Phoenix state park, a Revolutionary War memorial and the site of the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War, 25 days after Lexington and Concord. Along with the historic site there is a beach and views to the Elizabeth Islands that border Buzzard’s Bay on the south.

My walk homeward is filled with flowers and more lovely houses, and the occasional glimpse of the Unitarian church above the tree line. And then back to Chez Deb & Steve, with our massive beech tree welcoming me home. I’m definitely blossoming where I’m planted.

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So, as you can see, the Southcoast is a Best Kept Secret. Come explore her beauty, beaches and great restaurants, and while you’re in the neighborhood stop by and say hi!

Deborah

 

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