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.

Dave Huth bit.ly/2bzjE2U / bit.ly/OJZNiI

The other day, by pure chance, I witnessed a very intimate act between two consenting adults that gave me a new appreciation of the capacity for passion and gentleness among – do I have your attention? – among invertebrates.

Tom Whitten bit.ly/2bOKwNq / bit.ly/OJZNiI

One of my favorite stories about Wellfleet in the summer is told by the critic Alfred Kazin in his memoir, New York Jew. Kazin recounts one day in the 1950s when he was walking through Wellfleet center and passed a front yard in which there were several boys playing rather noisily. A woman in the nearby house put her head out of a window and said, “Would you children please find another yard to play in?  My husband is trying to write a book review, and I’m sure your fathers are, too.”

Joseph bit.ly/2aJ9Upb / bit.ly/OJZNiI

When I pulled into Newcomb Hollow, the beach was curiously empty. There were only three cars in the parking lot, and two of those left almost immediately. The waves were low and quiet, silently tossing massive logs and bright flags of sea lettuce about in the surf.

Andreas Faessler bit.ly/2asocUQ / bit.ly/1kvyKWi

One night last week I had dinner with friends in Provincetown. Afterwards we debated whether to go out to Herring Cove to watch the Perseid meteor shower or to stroll along the circus midway that is Commercial Street in August.

geneva_wirth bit.ly/2b0eE5H / bit.ly/OJZNiI

The great green islands of the marsh slipped smoothly by: high, flat, raised grasslands whose creeks and configurations were completely hidden from my angle of view. Their smooth fringed bank suggested the shore of unknown, untouched coasts above the grass. 

Paul-W bit.ly/2arFSUP / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Tides, along with the seasons and the diurnal rhythms, are one of the few dependably regular reciprocal rhythms in nature. One can journey into winter, or midnight, knowing one will be returned, in time, to summer and the light of day.

Graham Baker bit.ly/2a2khOS / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Cape Cod is a region that is usually spoken of, even by year-round residents, as if it were one fairly homogeneous place, with bigger or smaller waves, and perhaps some variation in traffic from season to season. I have lived here for over 40 years, and I am still learning about how different the various parts of this slim, sandy peninsula are.

Ib Aarmo bit.ly/29vZinh / bit.ly/OJZNiI

The other day I was watching a flock of terns diving into an inlet after sand eels. They would hover seven or eight feet in the air on whirring wings and fanned out tails, then drop like arrows beneath the fast-sliding currents, emerging a few seconds later with wriggling sand eels in their beaks.

Robert Finch

One of my wife Kathy’s favorite sayings is that, in recounting your vacation experiences, what most listeners want to hear is not the good or pleasant things that happened, but rather the minor disasters and near-catastrophes – the things that didn’t quite seriously hurt you. 

Nesson Marshall bit.ly/28Of1l4 / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

About a third of a mile east of Route 6 in my hometown of Wellfleet, one comes upon the longest remaining continuous stretch of the original King's Highway, the first road deliberately laid out down the entire length of Cape Cod. This road gets its name from the fact that in 1660, King Charles II of England gave a royal grant to have this road constructed.

Rover Thor http://bit.ly/1Ux1uL3 / http://bit.ly/1jNlqZo

One day last week, Kathy and I took some time off and spent several hours at one of our favorite ponds: a small, clear, kettle-hole pond hidden deep in the Wellfleet woods.

When we got to the pond, the morning mist had burned off and the day had turned sunny and pleasantly warm. 

Lessons of the Shed

Jun 7, 2016
Robert Finch

Some of you may recall a couple of programs I did last January about building a shed - a project I worked on sporadically over the fall and winter. All through our relatively mild and almost-snowless winter I would grab a few days of warm weather to continue working on the shed.

Bob MacInnes / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Last week I described how a mother fox had given birth to four fox kits under the shed next to our house. For several days we watched the kits playing on a patch of open ground just outside the shed. But, sensing our presence, or so we assumed, the mother fox, or vixen, had apparently removed them to a new location. 

Robert Finch

The fox is back, and this time she has four kits with her. It was the last week of April when we began hearing those weird, high, harsh shrieks at night – fox alarm, or fox mating calls, I was told.

Robert Finch

There’s a little dirt road in our town that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Its name is High Toss Bridge Road, and how it got that unusual name is a story in itself, but I’ll save that for last.

Dawidl / WikimediaCommons

For the past month or so, I have been watching the slow development of the flower buds on the red maple tree outside my study. This weekend, the maple blossoms came down in showers of wind, falling like small dark red stars onto the ground.

Two Shores, Two Lives

May 3, 2016
Joanna Vaughan / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Last night, driving home from a movie in Dennis, I stopped at Linnell Landing on the Brewster shore to see if I could still see the Provincetown Monument from there. Instead, I saw my life, as it was, and as it is.

Marcy Leigh / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I went out to Marconi Beach yesterday to see what it might have to say. At some times and places, where the bluffs are relatively low, say 30 or 40 feet, as they are here, and the tide fairly far out, as it was then, it’s the beach, in all its wide expanse, that takes precedence.

pixabay

One of the reasons I look forward to the opening of P.J.’s on Rt. 6 in Wellfleet each spring is so that I can once again get a kiddie-vanilla-cone-with-a-chocolate-dip for $1.87, including tax.

Arthur Chapman / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Human beings seem to possess a perennial urge to locate and define those qualities that make our species unique. We are constantly looking for traits that we don’t share with any other living creatures. 

Cape Cod Squad / youtu.be/B38OOEhNM98

A few weeks ago, on an unusually warm, sunny afternoon in late February, I drove down to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, where there seemed to be a convention of surfers, some coming off the beach, some coming on. In the past such a crowd at this time of year would have signaled a shipwreck, a whale stranding, or at least a good northeaster.

photoholic1 / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I was standing on Uncle Tim’s Bridge the other afternoon, a wooden pedestrian bridge in Wellfleet Center that spans Duck Creek linking the island of Cannon Hill to Commercial Street. The tide was high and the air was calm, so that the sky, brilliantly blue, was reflected like a mirror in the water. 

Cape Cod National Seashore / wikimedia commons

One day last month, before the rains fell again, I took a walk in South Wellfleet along the ocean bluffs across a flat and curiously barren shelf of land that runs between Marconi Beach and the historic Marconi Site to the north. This tableland is in the northern part of what is geologically known as the "Plains of Eastham."

Seth J / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Yesterday afternoon, as I was driving home from the hardware store, I saw a car coming the other way stopped in the road. The driver, an older woman wearing glasses, had gotten out of the car and was standing in the road looking back at something. I stopped abreast of her and she pointed at an object on the road behind her.

Robert Finch

One day, shortly after the most recent ocean breakthrough of the dune line at Truro’s Ballston Beach, I walked out onto the wide flat sand plain left by the overwash. There I unexpectedly found pages from the past laid out before me. 

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