A Cape Cod Notebook | CAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

What Are We Waiting For

Jan 19, 2021
Mary Bergman

Years ago, I lived in Washington, DC. More years have passed between the day my one-way rental Town and Country minivan pulled away from the 1400 block of A Street, Southeast than the five years I lived in that city. My father and I packed my whole adult life up until then into the back of the van. An IKEA mattress, a blue bicycle, and too many clothes. Neighbors swarmed like gulls at the furniture I left on the sidewalk. I wish I had taken this one perfect yellow kitchen table with me.

Vern Laux, 2013

On a late afternoon earlier this month I walked out to one of the rip-rapped bluffs overlooking Wellfleet Harbor. I like this spot because it provides a particularly satisfying perspective.

Liz Lerner

I think I am starting to forget words; well, perhaps not so much forget as to have trouble retrieving them. I might be more worried about this but for the fact that my mother, her mind still otherwise functioning perfectly at the age of 92, always forgot or misremembered words throughout her life.

Year's End

Dec 29, 2020
Liz Lerner

The year is ending and it is a time for solemn contemplation.  But what is a year?  Our calendar years are artificial, human constructs.  So, too, are our weeks and months—arbitrary divisions of time that were devised over the course of human history for various organizational purposes-notches in the hieroglyphics of ancient civilizations and up to the present. 

Light It Up

Dec 22, 2020
Sandwich Chamber of Commerce

Years ago, my husband, David, and his friend, Jack Braginton-Smith, then owner of Jack’s Outback in Yarmouthport, tackled what they considered a holiday heresy: displays of white Christmas lights along Route 6A.

Eye of the Storm

Dec 15, 2020
Mary Bergman

There is something about waking up in the rain, the sky ripped open, asphalt shingles doing their best impression of a tin roof. The wind has been howling such that I now only notice the moments when it isn’t blowing, when the only sound is the hum of my refrigerator.

Liz Lerner

It’s this time of the year that people begin to get mice in their houses, and we have been no exception. I might not have done something about it immediately (after all, mice have the right to be warm, too, don’t they?), but this mouse (or mice) was in the wall directly over our bed. It was obviously making a nest there, and its rhythmic gnawing kept me awake for several nights before I took action.

Flying Fish Cafe Facebook page

This is the time of year when friends and acquaintances boast about late-season swimming in the local ponds – or even occasionally the bay itself. Most of us go for a dip two or three times in September before calling it a season. Then there are the hardy folk who swim into October as far as Oyster Fest or even Halloween. A rare few, consumed with ambition, make it out into November, perhaps even Thanksgiving, and take pains to let you know it.

Finding Solace in an Early Morning Walk

Nov 24, 2020
Liz Lerner

I have officially crossed the Rubicon into old age.

I have a pair of reading glasses in every room.

I lecture the clerk at Home Depot on how to do his job.

I worry if the house is clean enough for the rescue squad.

A Morning Walk

Nov 17, 2020
Mary Bergman

I’ve been trying to break up the day with more walking, get moving as soon as my feet hit the floor in the mornings. These weird November days have been unsettling--both too warm and too dark. I’m still jumping into the ocean and my neighbors have just put up their Christmas tree. Hard to say who is living in the bigger dream world. We are losing all sense of time.

What's in a Name?

Nov 10, 2020
Matt Tillett / wikipedia

The other evening, from the woods down below our house, came the distinctive, haunting call of the screech owl. I was particularly delighted to hear it, since it was the first time I’d done so since moving to Wellfleet some 25 years ago. It used to be a fairly common sound when I lived in Brewster, deep in the oak woods that the screech owl seems to prefer. Its numbers have never been great on Cape Cod, and are fewer on the Lower Cape, which is still predominantly pine woods.

A Moonlit Walk

Nov 3, 2020
Liz Lerner

The moonlight pours through the skylight, banishing any thoughts of sleep. Slipping on my shoes and tucking my nightshirt into my pants, I go out into the night, walking down the steps and into the drive. It is a night as still as nights get. Shadows are motionless. Ragged pools of moonlight lie on the drive like white-grey patches of old snow. 

The Sounds of Night

Oct 27, 2020
Jacek Raniowski

Midnight, and I can’t sleep. The cat is curled beside me, having no problem at all.  A cool breeze flows through the screened window; finally the hot nights of August and September have given up the ghost.

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.