Audio version available below.

1. RESTORED AWARENESS. Beginning our traditional full week at a house on Cape Cod fills me with wonder at the breathtakingly clear blue skies, the warm temperatures complemented by balmy ocean breezes, the automatic de-stresser of lounging around in shorts and sandals – and the slow dawning remembrance of the fact that I’m really not that much of a beach guy.

2. UNHEALTHINESS INDULGED. The best by-product of the serenity that descends upon my wife when she can take long morning walks through bird-filled marshes and relax in majestic coves and be soothed by the gentle ripple of waves on Bay-side beaches is that she allows the family to have ice cream every night, gives in to her secret appreciation of deep-fried clams and grants the four of us a seven-day reprieve from having to worry about the long-term consequences of our soft spot for high-fat foods.

3. NOT TOO ANYTHING. The Lower Cape towns we choose to rent houses in each year have reinforced my realization that we are really middle-of-the-road people. The Mid-Cape offers what I (haughtily) consider the ticky-tacky diversions of bumper boats, taffy, cotton candy and arcade games, the latter of which I never cared for (honestly, because I never won a prize at any of them). The Outer Cape (as in Truro) with its sparsity of attractions besides dunes and quiet beaches provides perfect solitude for people interested in long meditative silences (not me) or lengthy spells of solitary reading (my eyes get tired after a few hours). Lower Cape towns like Brewster, Orleans and Chatham appeal to us as the perfect midpoint between the two extremes. Basically, we’re a Goldilocks family.

4. BEACH PATROL. When my girls were little and kept busy with their buckets, building sand castles, I had to keep an eye on the approaching tides, to make sure no evil-minded wave came along to whisk them away. Now when their beach walks last longer than I deem necessary, I have to go on a manhunt to make sure no packs of flirting teenaged boys descended upon them with the same intention.

5. SORRY LATER. After a full week of brushing away my wife’s entreaties and insisting I didn’t need second coatings of suntan lotion, I just wish my burnt shoulders and a red and raw nose didn’t provide more evidence for how often she’s right.

Vacation-week, bonus Dad Flash:

6. PREPOSITION-CHALLENGED. During our Cape Cod vacation, I thought I had an opportunity to educate my whip-smart youngest when she said we were “in the Cape.” After I corrected her by explaining, “People say ‘on’ the Cape,” we had a spirited debate. Applying clear logic, as she always does, she insisted, “We live IN Massachusetts, not ON Massachusetts.” I had to counter with an on-the-spot, made-up explanation that, “Capes follow the same rules as islands: You stay ON Martha’s Vineyard, not IN Martha’s Vineyard.” The debate ended in a standstill, and when our entire family re-assembled I thought I could get easy corroboration for my point, but things only got more complicated. My wife chimed in with, “I don’t say it either of those ways – I say AT the Cape.” My eldest offered, “And I say DOWN the Cape.” And therein lies the excitement of our family: We can’t come to an easy consensus on anything!

Photos of Cape vacation activities - beaches, hikes through marshes, fine restaurantsWhy does the week you wait all year for have to go by so fast?!

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