Hyannis is the Cape’s unofficial capital and our trip to Cape Cod coincides with the area’s largest cultural event, the open-air concert Pops by the Sea, held at the Hyannis village green. The Pops refer to the famous Boston Pops Orchestra.
The 2-hour concert starts at 5 pm but gates open at 1. I for one, ignorant of the event’s significance, wonder what’s with the kiasu-ness, given the village-y feel of the Cape. Well, joke on me, Once we were past the security checks (yes, there were security checks) and on the grounds of the green, we could barely find space to sit on the ground, let alone find a seat. There were FIFTEEN THOUSAND PEOPLE attending.
Of course every other person was well prepared, carrying little camp chairs, foldable tables, proper ground rugs, bottles of wine, elegant hors d’ouevres (!), books, magazines, newspapers and playing cards to while away the wait. You can excuse me for being a little grumpy for ending up on some tree roots (for the elevation, the better half says optimistically), right at the back somewhere near the portaloos. sitting on my brand new rain jacket.
What’s more, the spaces on a bench that a very friendly Puerto Rican volunteer offered us (with an unblocked view), quickly became a rancorous symbol of not-nice behavior, when another volunteer unceremoniously dumped my things on the ground and growled that those were HER seats and I wasn’t allowed to do that. It was doubly annoying when she turned and hoofed off before I could properly express my indignation. How rude! Back to the elevated tree roots it was.
The pre-concert entertainment was rather poor, to be honest. Some ladies asked Jude and Juno to come and make some simple crafts, but the directions given by the inexperienced and very young volunteers were so vague, Jude made rather a mess out of his project while Juno was bemused by her strange invention of beads on pipe cleaners (that she played no part in making anyway).
Decided to take a walk along Main Street and get a breather before the concert, so pushing a drowsy Juno along, I walked back past the adjacent JFK museum (which is said to hold a lovely collection of photos of his time in Cape Cod. Sadly I didn’t make it in before it closed. I know I have deeply failed you, Shyam) and found a tiny shop selling Cape-y things, including a lovely yellow Chevy which caught J’s eye.
A few feet down and across the road I struck gold with an awesome second-hand bookshop. Tim’s Used Books, 386 Main St, just slows your heart down when you walk in. It’s big and old and just perfect.
What’s even better is, Juno decided to fall asleep, leaving me to browse to my heart’s content.
I got a bunch of kids books (not all of which were in great condition – one was really badly torn, I don’t know how I missed that), old Spiderman comics for Jude and a worn, red, D.H. Lawrence hardcover for myself, all for next to nothing. But mainly the shop with its eclectic and vast range of books restored my faith in the world and revived my flagging spirits.
(I googled and found this: “Tim’s Used Books is a large store that attracts all kinds of clientele, from poets to musicians. It offers the typical cozy atmosphere of a used bookstore with a sophisticated edge. The owner, who previously worked as a concert promoter for a few rock bands around Boston, promises a fun, artsy environment with the best prices. Shoppers often boast that they find things here they’ve been searching for for years!”)
The Pops didn’t disappoint. Juno danced and enjoyed herself, spreading joy and goodwill to a small pocket of people around her. Blythe Danner (looking incredible at 70) showed up as celebrity guest conductor, was charming about forgetting her baton, and read out excerpts of JFK’s famous speeches including his Inaugural Address in 1961. Fitting tribute in a village so close to the famed Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport and also a reminder that it has been 50 years since his assassination.