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In This Place

Plenty to Appreciate on Cape Cod

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James W. Kershner
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Keveney Lane Bridge in Cummaquid

When I say I’m going to walk around the block, I’m off on a magical mystery tour.

A stroll through almost any neighborhood on Cape Cod can produce an array of geographic features, beautiful plants, and delightful animals. A simple walk around the block in my neighborhood in Cummaquid and Yarmouth Port has it all.

In a mile and a half, I circle an area that includes a forest with pines, oaks, maples, ash and beech trees. It’s interrupted, of course, by the landscaped yards of homeowners, who add ornamental trees, like dogwood, cherry and redbud. Beneath them they have planted flowering bushes like forsythias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and fragrant lilacs. Many homeowners add various flowers, including the daffodils that are so ubiquitous in April. It’s a delight for the eyes in every season.

As I continue my walk, there is a downhill stretch that takes me near a swampy area that has its own environment, with cedar trees and skunk cabbage, plants that don’t mind getting their feet wet. This swampy area is home to spring peepers—tiny tree frogs that herald the beginning of spring with their high-pitched peeps.

The emotional highpoint—and geographic low point—of my walk is the Keveney Street Bridge. The one-lane bridge crosses a narrow inlet that connects Hallets Mill Pond with Cape Cod Bay. Depending on the tide, the water may be rushing into the pond, or rushing out to the bay. The pond is surrounded by a salt marsh, where the water level rises and falls with the tide. The vista is different with every visit.

The asphalt surface of the bridge is littered with clamshells. I love watching gulls fly over the bridge clutching clams. Then, they drop the clams onto the hard surface of the bridge, breaking the shell. Once a gull did this while I was watching from only about 10 feet away. The gull flew down and proceeded to eat the clam right in front of me. I imagined he was glaring at me as if to say, “Don’t even think about taking my dinner, I worked hard for this.”

Gulls aren’t the only birds in the area. There is an active osprey nest nearby, there are plenty of ducks and geese, and even a pair of swans who enjoy the quieter coves of the mill pond. As I walk back upland, I can hear redwing blackbirds populating a thicket of invasive phragmites with their noisy calls, and the even more argumentative crows. Though no birdwatcher, I have spotted a beautiful Baltimore oriole along my route.

People-watching is colorful too. I’ve seen solo joggers, determined walkers, and whole extended families flocked together enjoying this beautiful route. Everyone waves—even those I cars—as if to acknowledge that we have both discovered one of the most beautiful spots on Cape Cod. Now that masks are coming off, we can exchange warm smiles as well.

There are plenty of four-legged animals within this block too. I’ve spotted squirrels, chipmunks and mice scampering around. I’ve also seen a coyote passing through, and a fox. I watched a raccoon attempting to get into my trash can, so I know they are around as well.

And one evening a beautiful pair of deer emerged from the woods in the middle of this wonderful block and strolled into my backyard. They patiently posed while I snapped a photo and then returned into the woods.

You never know what you will see on this beautiful peninsula, if you just take the time to pause and truly appreciate it.

Writer James Kershner lives in Cummaquid.