A Cape Cod Notebook | WCAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

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!”

An Appreciation of Spiders

Apr 28, 2020
creative commons / wikimedia

Wildlife is where you find it, and, even though it has been a mild winter, and even though the days are lengthening as spring approaches, I have been somewhat of an indoor naturalist these past few months.  And the wildlife in my house consists of one dog, often written about, two cats…and a couple handfuls of spiders (not that I handle them). 

Life Saving

Apr 21, 2020
Mary Bergman

Three geese flew overhead as I walked down Nobadeer Road. I heard them first, the sound of their wings, almost electric. A pair, wingtips almost close enough to touch, and a third lagging behind. Hard not to think of family of some kind. Hard not to think of trinities. Everyone is looking for deeper meaning at a moment like this. 

This week Bob continues his account of being a census taker in 1990.

Most of our work as census takers was straightforward and unexciting. We visited the households that had not yet returned their short forms, and led those with the long forms through the questions. Nonetheless, there were many examples of the unexpected.

Liz Lerner

Last Wednesday there took place a national ritual as venerable and significant as our national elections. –April 1 was the official National Census Day, the reference date for the 2020 national census, an event mandated by the U.S. Constitution to take place every ten years. It would be significant enough if only because the census determines the number of Congressional representatives each state has and also where most of the federal grant money goes.

Nature Has Not Been Cancelled

Mar 31, 2020
Elyssa Cohen

This is not about the deer I just saw on my afternoon walk on a hillside not far from my house.  Two does.  This is not about how beautiful they were, silhouetted against the still-leafless trees and enveloped in a mist turning to fog.  This is not about their long slender legs, the arched backs of their elegant bodies, the white flags of their tails lifted high as they both vanished, as only deer can do. 

Walking in a Time of COVID-19

Mar 24, 2020
L. Lerner

When I was a kid, my family had two cures for everything: a cup of tea (heavy on the milk and sugar) and a walk.

These days I drink my tea black but I’ve been walking a lot. With the insecurity and isolation of Covid-19 piled on top of the isolation of working from home, sometimes I head out just to reassure myself that the outside world still exists.


Mar 17, 2020

This is a place of ritual. Wake before the sun begins to rise, boil water for coffee. Watch it drip, drip, drip like a stone skipping across the surface of a smooth pond. The mornings stretch on. Try to get lost in the percolation of the coffee and not the anxiety that is already cooking up inside you. Or maybe that is just me.

Tony Wan / unsplash

It was 57 years ago, in the winter of 1962, that I first walked the old New York – New Haven railroad bed from Provincetown to Orleans. Passenger service to the Outer Cape had ceased in 1938, and the rails had been removed from Provincetown to North Eastham, but the oak railroad ties were still there, and the railroad bridges across Great Hollow, Pamet Harbor, Herring River and Duck Creek, were still intact.

Daniel Schwen / wikimedia

In a remote corner of the Provincelands, there is a several hundred acre tract of stunted forest, sloping dunes, shallow ponds and extensive freshwater swamp. I think of this area as Mary Oliver’s Backyard. I do so because so many of Provincetown’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s best poems are set here.

Chasing Away the Seasonal Blues... With Sausage

Feb 25, 2020
Nelson Sigelman

Striped bass have left Martha’s Vineyard waters, save for a few holdovers trapped in the great ponds. Deer and waterfowl hunting seasons are at an end. These are trying months for those who suffer from fishing-hunting seasonal affective disorder.

Beacons Everywhere

Feb 18, 2020
Mary Bergman

Some days, you can catch radio signals from Martha’s Vineyard, and TV from Rhode Island. Look out across Nantucket’s north shore towards Cape Cod at dusk, the horizon is speckled with blinking lights, navigational beacons and channel markers, lighthouses and radio towers. There are beacons everywhere, trying to tell us which way to go, trying to warn us of dangerous shoals.