The recent announcement that the Commonwealth will change highway exit numbers to comply with federal standards has touched off a cascade of complaints and criticism. Talk radio, newspapers and internet posts have all decried the change, citing one iteration or another of a common theme; that the old numbering system is a part of Cape tradition and changing it will separate us from our past. These concerns echo those I recall (dating myself here I know) from when area codes were added to phone dialing requirements and when exchanges were added that didn’t start with 477, 428,775 or the myriad of other local exchanges people used to associate with their town or village. Maybe something was lost with those changes, but I think we have adapted ok and over time will adapt to Exit 2 becoming Exit 59.

What I am struck by, though, is not the reaction to change. What catches my attention, and sparks my curiosity, is why there is such an imbalance in the reaction to the news about renumbering the exit numbers to the recent news about the degraded quality of our bays and freshwater ponds. If the reaction to the exits is really about anger and fear over losing another little bit of the traditional way of life on Cape Cod, shouldn’t the level of outrage and intolerance of what’s become of water quality exceed, or at least equal, what we have heard about the exit numbers?

Think, for just a minute, about what defines traditional Cape Cod more than healthy bays, beaches, and ponds that invite you in for a refreshing swim, paddle or fishing trip. The view from here says there is nothing more Cape Cod than going to the shore and bringing home a bucket full of clams, scallops or oysters for dinner with family and friends. We have lost a lot of that through our own inaction on managing our wastewater. We know this, it’s a fact (see APCC’s report), and yet we have not had a response equal to the scope and magnitude of the problem.

If you are upset about the exit signs, by all means speak up and make your voice heard. What I ask of you though is to be consistent and, if you are going to fight for the preservation of olde Cape Cod, at least fight for the restoration of water quality with the same vigor and urgency.

Happy Thanksgiving.