By Anne Hanyen
Every morning as I gaze out our windows and look down at Arey’s Pond, I think how incredibly lucky I am to live in Orleans. Orleans is uniquely situated between Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean with miles of coast line and salt water estuaries. Our bays, ponds, lakes, marshes, creeks and beaches are the soul of Orleans.
For the third year in a row, the Orleans Pond Coalition is recognizing the wonder of Orleans waterways. Over a fun-filled weekend, visitors to Orleans will be able to find out why those of us who live here feel so lucky. Celebrate Our Waters is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22 and 23. More than 50 FREE water-related activities are planned for adults and children of all ages. We will be bringing back some of the favorites from prior years such as Bob Prescott’s bird walks, kayak trips led by Dick Hilmer and Goose Hummock, sailing sponsored by Arey’s Pond Boat yard and Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar company, tours of the Jonathan Young Windmill, Coast Guard Vessel 36500 and Jim Bast’s cranberry bog, and of course, Saturday night’s bonfire on Nauset Beach sponsored by Orleans Parks and Recreation Department. Two new concerts, “Songs of the Sea” by Denya Levine and Julie Wanamaker and a performance by the Lower Cape Concert Band will precede the bonfire.
We also have many new and exciting events planned. This year’s weekend provides more hands-on opportunities for children including craft sessions and a “search for shells” sand table at the new “Celebrate Our Waters” activity tent, a family treasure hunt sponsored by Orleans Improvement Association, sand sculpture contest, sailor’s knot tying, fishing, and the popular “walk through a whale” sponsored by Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.
Since shellfish can improve water quality, this year you’ll be able to see and learn more about aquaculture and how a healthy shellfish ecosystem works to improve the quality of our waterways. Sandy Macfarlane will be giving a talk on OPC’s project to grow baby oysters in an upweller and a model of the upweller will be on display at the activity tent. Other opportunities to learn about aquaculture include tours of Rock Creek Oyster Farm and a talk and demo of shellfishing at Salt Pond in Eastham.
Since we share several water bodies with Eastham and given the new focus on dealing with water issues regionally, Celebrate Our Waters is expanding into Eastham this year. In addition to the shellfishing demo, a bike ride will wend its way through Eastham’s pond cluster with stops along the way so you can learn about the ponds from Sandy Bayne, coordinator of the Eastham ponds study. Also, Sue Haley of Cape Cod National Seashore will lead a walk on which she will talk about the long history of human activity at Nauset Marsh. Reflecting on the shared nature of the estuary of Rock Creek, Jeff Norgeot will describe the salty history of Rock Harbor and discuss its current uses and its future issues.
We also have an entirely new slate of speakers. Learn about efforts to save right whales from Stormy Mayo of Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and learn about last winter’s mass dolphin strandings from Brian Sharp of International Fund for Animal Welfare. Local historian Bonnie Snow will give a talk and slide show featuring past and present Orleans waterways and Mark Faherty of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary will talk about the Cape Cod Osprey Project. Lastly, if you think all the good fishing is in the ocean or Cape Cod Bay, come hear Peter Budryk talk about Cape Cod’s “Best Kept Fishing Secret.”
– Anne Hanyen is chairman of OPC’s “Celebrate Our Waters” weekend.