Robert Finch | CAI

Robert Finch

Robert Finch is a nature writer living in Wellfleet. 'A Cape Cod Notebook' won the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing.

Robert Finch has lived on and written about Cape Cod for forty years. He is the author of six collections of essays, including "The Iambics of Newfoundland" (Counterpoint Press), and co-editor of "The Norton Book of Nature Writing." His new book, "The Outer Beach: A Thousand-Mile Walk Along Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore," will be out in May.

His essays can be heard on WCAI every Tuesday at 8:30am and 5:45pm.

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

In Brewster, Robert Finch came across a duck blind that once belonged to the Nickerson family, and its view of ducks adrift on the pond in winter inspired this week's Cape Cod Notebook.

A day spent clearing landscape debris segues to an inspired appreciation of Rachmaninov, in this week's essay from a Cape Cod Notebook. 

cardcow.com bit.ly/1Qa5M9i

At a recent dinner with old friends, someone brought up the topic of the “Target Ship.” For over a half a century, the target ship was a familiar and legendary sight in Cape Cod Bay for those of us who lived near the elbow of the Cape. 

Joanna Vaughan bit.ly/2kPJKDi / bit.ly/1dsePQq

The coast assumes a different character in winter. In A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch sets out on a solitary walk in the Provincelands, visiting the dune shacks that stand against the wind in a desolate landscape.

The Great Good Place

Feb 7, 2017
Steve Snodgrass bit.ly/2kEgbmq / bit.ly/1mhaR6e

Sometimes wandering into a coffee shop can enter you into a whole new world.

Vern Laux

On Nauset Beach, Robert Finch contemplates the presence of eiders, and their embodiment of a natural community. 

Putneypics bit.ly/2jaM0Ba / bit.ly/1jNlqZo

This week on A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch strolls the beach in winter.

Becky Dalzell

If there’s anything than interests me more than local history, it's unrecorded local history – that is, events, stories, characters and places that live only in the memories of long-time residents – and sometimes not even there, sometimes only in the shapes of certain landscapes, or in the presence of mute but evocative objects that require the beholder to shape and piece together a tentative narrative about their history.

Jennifer Sherry bit.ly/2jAeDfJ / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Early last month, on my way home from a dentist appointment, I stopped at Coast Guard Beach in Eastham at the end of the day. I have a long history with this barrier beach, going back to the 1960s, when there were still a dozen or so beach shacks strung along its length. 

Cosmo bit.ly/2hOhwJc / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

In today's Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch takes us along on a walk through Wellfleet, from Duck Creek Harbor to Cannon Hill.

mararie bit.ly/2hBv5aS / bit.ly/2hBysP9

Last winter, two friends from Oregon visited us for a weekend. On Sunday I took them out to the dunes of the Provincelands, following a series of familiar sand-marks that I have traced across this ever-changing and forever-unchanging landscape for more than half a century.

John Stanton bit.ly/2hFEqBM / bit.ly/1pawxfE

The North Truro Air Force Base was located at the very eastern edge of the Highland Plains, and thus afforded a spectacular ocean view to the military personnel and their families that lived there. A double cyclone fence topped with barbed wire surrounded the base: an outer one around its perimeter, including the cliff edge, and an inner one protecting the military compound, the command center, and the radar domes.

http://www.radomes.org/museum/

In my adolescence I was an avid science fiction reader, and one of my favorite books was Ray Bradbury’s iconic collection of stories, The Martian Chronicles. It was published in 1950 at the beginning of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. One of the most poignant and quietly chilling of Bradbury’s tales is called “And There Will Come Soft Rains.”

www.300committee.org / bit.ly/2grIy4c

The other day I was walking one of those old, overgrown, and nearly invisible dirt roads on Bound Brook Island – the site of Wellfleet’s first settlement in the late 17th century, and now largely abandoned. I love wandering in such places of unrecorded and unidentified history, history that resides purely in things and not ideas, not even my own.

John Chapman bit.ly/2g7sRAj / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

I drove down to Paine's Creek at dusk with coffee and a Danish from the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts. The beach was white and clean in the dying light. The marsh grass was all tawny, heavy and thick in the fullness of its growth. It toppled over itself in windrows with its own accumulated mass, weighted like the heavy boughs of the apple tree behind my garden.

bit.ly/2fGPF9M

It was this month, thirty years ago, that Hollywood came to the Outer Cape. The occasion was the filming of Norman Mailer’s crime novel, Tough Guys Don’t Dance, which was set in Provincetown. It wasn’t a very good novel, and the film wasn’t much better, but it starred Ryan O’Neil and Isabella Rossellini, and for a week or two some people were excited about the possibility of sighting a movie star or two in our small villages in the off-season.

Carlos Pacheco bit.ly/2fmv0HW / bit.ly/1mhaR6e

I am sitting on the beach at Long Point, my legs stretched out towards the town that rests in unmistakable outline across the Harbor. I have, as it were, Provincetown at my feet. This is surely the best vantage point from which to view it, nestled, in Joseph Berger's sly image, "like a piece of silver that has just crossed the palm of Cape Cod."

Martyn Jenkins bit.ly/2elxVyZ / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

On the previous broadcast I described some of the major damage that this four-day northeast gale – known as the Perfect Storm - did to the Cape’s beaches and shoreline structures over the Halloween weekend in 1991. But what remains most vivid in my memory is the effect the storm had on the Cape’s bird life, in particular, gannets.

NOAA bit.ly/2dJfNkK / bit.ly/2er6W8M

This coming weekend marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of an extraordinary meteorological event that was known variously as “The Halloween Gale” or “The No-Name Storm” of 1991. But perhaps it’s best remembered as “The Perfect Storm” the term used by meteorologists to describe an unusual alignment of three major weather systems along the northeast coast – a “perfect” alignment, if you will, that produced a northeast storm of almost unprecedented length and intensity.

David Merrett bit.ly/2ei5HGk / bit.ly/1mhaR6e

The other day I drove down to the Nauset Light Beach parking lot in North Eastham for the first time since Labor Day. Somehow, in its off-season emptiness, I was struck even more than usual at how extensive and labyrinthine a maze the entrance to this beach has become over time.

Robert Finch

When we think of town conservation areas, we usually think of large tracts of protected land, places like the 1200-acre West Barnstable Conservation Area, or perhaps somewhat smaller tracts like the 44-acre Wiley Park in Eastham. But over the past couple of decades there have been dozens of other, smaller conservation areas created on the Cape and Islands, all of them less than twenty acres in extent, and most under ten.

http://www.cathedralgrove.eu

Last August I flew out to Santa Cruz, California, to attend my nephew’s wedding. It had been nearly twenty-five years since I had been out West, and even longer since I had seen some of my relatives.

Tofu bit.ly/2cF4Dg5 / bit.ly/OJZNiI

We are about to enter “northeaster season,” that time of year when ocean storms strafe our exposed peninsula, often rearranging its topography. They also tend to rearrange our image of ourselves, from that of beleaguered residents enduring the onslaught of summer tourists to that of “rugged New Englanders,” enduring our character-building climate of winter gales and occasional blizzards. 

Thomas Gehrke bit.ly/2cxbZoZ / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Over the summer I gave a number of public readings from my new collection of Cape Cod Notebook radio essays. At the Q&A sessions at the end at the end of these readings, one question I could almost count on being asked was, “When and how did you first connect with Nature?”

Mark H. Anbinder bit.ly/2ctl9kw / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

I was coming back from a trip to Western Mass a few weeks ago when I stopped at a local diner and witnessed something remarkable, though in one sense it could not have been more banal. I sat at the counter and ordered a chocolate shake.

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