A Cape Cod Notebook | CAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

Off Season

Oct 20, 2020
Mary Bergman

The other Friday night, we were driving around. With the heat on, windows down, and (new this year) masks on. I leaned my head out the window a bit, the sky turning from pink to yellow to blue. We headed towards the western end of the island, where the sun lingers the longest. Everyone speeds up as they approach the slight hill on the way to the dump.

The Green Flash

Oct 13, 2020
Brocken Inaglory / wikipedia

Today I’d like to talk to you a bit about the “green flash.” And no, by that I don’t mean the merging of two of my boyhood comic book heroes, the Green Arrow and The Flash. No, I mean the “green flash,” one of the most common yet rarely observed of celestial phenomena.

Robert Finch

Thoreau once wrote, “A man’s ignorance can be a useful, even a beautiful thing.” One day last summer I experienced the truth of this first-hand. For some time I had noticed a small new sign on the east side of Route 6, shortly before the Truro Center exit that said “Conservation Trails.” So I decided to check it out. I pulled off the highway into a small parking lot, where a map identified the area as the ANSEL CHAPLIN AND DAVID KUECHLE CONSERVATION AREA, owned and maintained jointly by the Truro Conservation Trust and the Town of Truro.

The Sky Is Not Empty

Sep 29, 2020
Ken Thomas

In the wild world, birds are the most commonly seen vertebrate, and, at this time of year—September into October—the Tree Swallow is probably the most commonly seen bird.  These tiny green-and-white beings flock to our coastal areas by the tens of thousands.  The Cape could be seen as Convention Central for them, as they congregate prior to migration south.  They can be seen over ponds and lakes, over the dunes, and most especially up in the sky.

A Different Kind of Summer

Sep 22, 2020
Liz Lerner

Like many Cape Codders this summer, I had extra people at my house. Family who usually come for two weeks came for two months. Some days there were three adults working, from bedroom to basement. One 8-year-old in Zoom camp or school in the kitchen. And one 4-year-old doing whatever he could wherever he was.

Out to Sea

Sep 15, 2020
Mary Bergman

It is undeniable, this slipping away of summer. The sun, still tucked into ocean waves like blankets, rises later than I do. The electric symphony of insect sounds has been unplugged, or at least dialed down a few notches.

Liz Lerner

Over the years I have attempted to answer that question again and again: Why do we need nature in an essential but non-utilitarian way – the way we need music or art or literature – or love?  Today I’d like to give you just two of the answers I’ve come up with – knowing that, like all such answers, they are inadequate.

Liz Lerner

Sometimes I think that almost everything I’ve written in my long career here as a writer on Cape Cod has been an attempt to answer one crucial underlying question, namely, “Why do we need nature?”

The Search for the Elusive Four-toed Salamander

Aug 25, 2020
Biojoe56 - Wikipedia / bit.ly/2ErH0IV / CC BY-SA 3.0 / bit.ly/3hrVRSb

We share this planet with multiple uncounted millions of species. If we consider just those visible, there are still millions; and even if we limit our focus to just those with backbones—fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians—we will have to deal with many thousands, and new species are still being discovered in the frontiers of the rain forest canopy and the ocean’s depths.  

The Search for Solitude During Summer

Aug 18, 2020
Mary Bergman

A couple of weeks ago, my phone buzzed with a message from Amanda. She’d sent a link to a boat for sale out in Polpis. She’s always sending me interesting items--a house on a Cliff, new to the market, a steal at 22 million dollars. The latest infection numbers from the hospital. Or a photograph of some corner of the island I’d never really considered much before she captured it.

Two Epidemics

Aug 11, 2020
Jeffrey Hamilton

Recently I found myself thinking about Vermont, not because I’d rather be there than where I am, but because when I was nine I spent a week there in the middle of a polio epidemic.

Qijin Xu / Unsplash

The other day Kathy and I drove over to Ryder Beach Road and parked at the old railroad bed, planning to walk along it and up onto the hill that overlooks Bound Brook Marsh. Suddenly, our dog Sam went crazy in the back seat, yelling and barking, scratching at the windows. Kathy pointed and shouted, “Look – a fox!” And there it was, walking out of Cobb Farm Road and stopping for a moment, as if looking both ways before entering the empty street.

Living on a Spit of Sand

Jul 28, 2020
Brian Fitzpatrick

I am weeding my little four foot by four foot plot in our newly created meadow project at the Provincetown Community Garden.  I am on my hands and knees playing God, tearing up foxtail grass, spurge, and other weeds, trying to get my plot to say bee balm and aster, goldenrod and butterfly weed, rather than invasives. 

The Ocean is More Important Than Ever

Jul 21, 2020
Mary Bergman

I think about it for a moment. And then I run  my hand down the worn wooden railing that leads down a half-dozen rickety steps to the beach. Down at the far end of the narrow path, a family waits until I pass, busying themselves with a honeysuckle vine that has tangled into the mother’s hair.

Robert Finch

Our mimosa tree has gained true stature this year. Some twelve years ago I hastily planted it in our back yard as a two-foot sprout, not really expecting it to live. Now its emerald canopy is over fifteen feet in height and almost triple that in breadth. From our deck it looks like a small green sea. 

Matt MacGillivray / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Our summer neighbors have not been able to get to the Cape this year, so the other day I walked over to check on their house. There, on the lower deck, I found the body of a small bird, perhaps six inches long. Somehow, even before I picked it up, I knew it was that of a hermit thrush, the possessor of one of the most ethereal, and most moving, of all sounds in nature.

Beauty in the Dunes

Jun 30, 2020
Dennis Minsky

Like many of you, I go out every day into the natural world in the good company of a dog.  Yesterday-a brilliant day- the oft-written-about Dory and I followed a long narrow trail through the woods that ended abruptly at a steep slope of sand.  We floundered up and over and entered the majesty of the Provinceland dunes, spread before us, with the ocean beyond.  

Missing the Connections a Dog Can Bring

Jun 23, 2020
Susan Moeller

Like everyone else, I’ve spent a lot of time crossing things off my pre-pandemic calendar: a visit to see the California grandkids; rehearsal for my handbell choir; dinner with a pal at our favorite restaurant.

The Ghosts of Summers Past

Jun 16, 2020
Mary Bergman

This spring has been a time without transition. Normally on Nantucket, we are given a few holiday weekends (the Daffodil Festival in April, Memorial Day in May) to acclimatize ourselves to the influx of people who descend come summertime. That is often the hardest part of living in a place so seasonal, to remember the new rhythms that summer brings and adjust yourself accordingly. But there were no sneak previews of summer this year. 

Liz Lerner

The Cape Cod Baseball League is one of the great joys of summer on the Cape, and the gem of the league is Eldredge Park in Orleans.  Given to the town a hundred and five years ago by Lewis (“Win”) Eldredge, the park has been refreshed and improved many times over the decades, and this being the season’s home opener, it was in mint condition.        

Sketching The Cape's Beauty

Jun 2, 2020
Liz Lerner

I came to sketching late in life. Even as a child I knew I had no exceptional talent for drawing, so I devoted my creative energies to another craft: that of writing. But I always felt I was missing out on something. In fact, many, if not most of the writers I’ve known, harbor the suspicion that drawing is somehow superior to writing, perhaps that is why so many of us writers take up drawing or painting in our later years.

The Star of Spring

May 26, 2020
Liz Lerner

What a gift to the world is the Lady Slipper!  It is newly unfurled in our woods, springing up amongst its neighbors, the Canada Mayflower, the Starflower, the fern, and the low-bush blueberries, with their delicate bell-like blossoms.  While beauty abounds in its vicinity, what can compare to the outrageous Lady Slipper.  

Late Spring Light

May 19, 2020
Mary Bergman

May, and its long days that surprise me with the intensity of their light, always reminds me of the last house I lived in in Provincetown. May was the best month to live in that house, before it got too hot, before the traffic from nearby Route Six picked up.

Liz Lerner

Earlier last month I lifted my rowboat into the van, drove out to a town landing in East Orleans, and shoved off into the waters of Little Pleasant Bay. It was a beautiful, sunny day, a warm, early spring day, with a brisk southwest wind coming in with the tide. The low islands of the bay lay spread out like basking dinosaurs feeding on the bordering salt marshes. I landed on Pochet Island, the largest of the bay islands, and climbed up its high, marsh-skirted bluffs forested with undulating banks of wavy-topped junipers.

Liz Lerner

A writer I know recently addressed a group of other writers by proclaiming, in a somewhat scolding tone, “If you’re not writing about the coronavirus, you’re not writing!”