A Cape Cod Notebook

Our Role With The Swallows

4 hours ago
Lance Asper / unsplash

About a month ago, on the little harbor-side beach we have frequented for over forty years, I noticed a couple of swallows.  Tree Swallows, I thought, or Barn Swallows- the two most commonly seen- but, no, their dingy brown plumage and squared-off tails identified them as Northern Rough-wing Swallows, a species I had never noticed in this particular spot before.  And there were two- just two: a pair.  Thereafter, I would see one or perhaps both, always in this same area.

All That Washes Ashore

Sep 11, 2018
Mary Bergman

I spent most of my summers learning to sail at the West End Racing Club in Provincetown. The other kids were all natives of this sandy spit, and they all took to sailing like they had salt water in their veins. Most were the children of fishermen or  the great-granddaughters of whalers who overwintered in the Arctic.

Shellfish Memories

Sep 4, 2018
Matthew Essman / unsplash

Robert Finch was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is taking some time off.  We've gone into the archives, and today we're re-airing one of our favorite A Cape Cod Notebook essays. It's called "Shellfish Memories."

Naming Our Local Humpback Whales

Aug 28, 2018
D. Gordon E. Robertson / Wiki Commons / bit.ly/1kvyKWi



It was coming on evening out on Stellwagen Bank, the red ball of the sun descending through the clouds. It had done its job, though- burning off the lingering fog banks out over the water.  We were surrounded by whales- Humpback Whales- spouting and diving all around our boat.  

Slowing Down for Blackberries

Aug 21, 2018
Mary Bergman

I’m lucky enough to live just over a mile from the beach, a straight shot along the Surfside bike path. If I’m running, which I have been doing to varying degrees of success over the last three years, I can make it to the end of the road and to the mouth of the sand trail that leads to Surfside in 10 minutes. Walking takes closer to 15 minutes. 

What You Discover on the Backshore Beach

Aug 14, 2018
L. Lerner

The Backshore beach is a veritable graveyard.  Littered all about, from the tide line up into the dunes, are bodies and body parts.  Some are fresh, the tide’s latest delivery; others lie, bleached and scoured, as if they had been there for all time. 

A Rare Moment of Weightlessness

Aug 7, 2018
Mary Bergman

Lately I have taken to floating—lying on my back in the bay and letting the water cradle me. It can be hard to make it to the beach, even in the heat of summer, as so many other stressors pull on our time. There are a lot who live on Nantucket that hardly ever get to the beach. As one neighbor said to me: “I live on an island—--the beach will always be there.”

A Summer Beach Without a Plover?

Jul 31, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


For quite a few years I worked for Cape Cod National Seashore on its shorebird project, studying and protecting nesting terns and plovers.  It was always with trepidation that I stepped inside an “enclosed area”- delineated with “symbolic fencing”-posts and twine lines with surveyor’s tape-the domain of one of our subject birds, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodius).  

A State of Deep Emotion While Saving a Life

Jul 24, 2018
Evan Kirby / unsplash


This week on A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who shares his experience saving a life.

When the Fish Aren't Biting

Jul 17, 2018


I cleaned the rain gutters on my house this weekend. Which is another way of saying the fishing is slow.

Grappling With Eating Clams and Being Vegetarian

Jul 10, 2018
L. Lerner

During this week's A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who talks about his struggle with being a vegetarian and eating clams.


The Fascinating Past of the Island Fisherman

Jul 3, 2018
Nelson Sigelman


A Cape Cod Notebook, WCAI's weekly essay series about life on the Cape and Islands, continues this week with a piece from contributor Nelson Sigelman. He writes about a friend who is an island fisherman with a mysterious past.

The Great Fiction

Jun 26, 2018
L. Lerner

It’s with mixed feelings that I must tell you this will be my last Cape Cod Notebook broadcast for a while.  Mixed feelings because I have greatly enjoyed doing these weekly programs over the past thirteen years. On the other hand, the reason for this leave is that I have recently been named a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2018. 

A Muskrat Encounter

Jun 19, 2018
Tom Koerner / USFWS / Creative Commons 2.0 / https://bit.ly/2JWwTJG

It was a beautiful afternoon in early June that I first explored the “Historical Society of Old Yarmouth Nature Trails.” These trails are located just behind the Yarmouth Port post office on Rt. 6A. At first glance it looks like a typical mid-Cape conservation area, encompassing some fifty acres of wooded uplands, wetlands, old pasture, and a small pond. But every place has its own individual character and its unique potential for unexpected encounters.

L. Lerner


It’s 5:30 in the afternoon at Newcomb Hollow Beach, and I am sitting on the sand directly in front of the parking lot so as to catch the last fifteen minutes of sun on the beach. The surf is regular and moderate, but only one paddle-boarder pushes leisurely out onto the surface of the sea between swells, stands up on his board, and then, as my granddaughter Coco puts it, he begins to “sweep the ocean.”