A Cape Cod Notebook | CAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

Duck Creek Shark

Feb 4, 2020
L Lerner

This happened one day last November, a dark, damp day with a cold northeast wind blowing off the ocean. I had taken a walk across Duck Creek on Uncle Tim’s bridge and up onto Cannon Hill. Coming back around the south side of the island, I heard in the marsh off to my left a flopping noise, which could’ve been something, but I decided it was just the waves lapping against the marsh peat.

An Appreciation of the Ungainly and Inconvenient Thorn

Jan 28, 2020
Dennis Minsky

A path through the woods is a compromise between people and the natural world.  As long as you stay on the trail you are alright.  But if you dare to venture into the brush you will certainly come upon what will be the bane of your off-trail existence: cat briar or green briar or bull thorn (Smilax rotundifolia). 

Winter's Cold on Nantucket

Jan 21, 2020
Mary Bergman

I was starting to feel trapped. It happens sometimes, when the sky is an endless gray and the horizon line is hard to find. Winter’s cold brings things into focus, and you can really feel the ragged edges of this island. I heard the whistle of the last ferry as it came in around 10:30 at night and knew there was no getting off this island until morning. And even if you left, where would you go? 

A Reliable Old Friend

Jan 14, 2020
Crown Agency Photography

It looked old.  It looked like something that was ready for retirement, though it still worked, still functioned. The oak handles, once varnished and glossy, had bleached into a permanent washed-out gray with deep cracks in them. The heavy steel tray had corroded, leaving a small, crescent-shaped hole at its front edge, but the rolled steel rim was still intact.

Old Wharf Road

Jan 7, 2020
Alex Talmon

One of the most beautiful spots in Wellfleet, or for that matter, on the entire Lower Cape, is Old Wharf Road. It is one of those headlands that, along with Indian Neck and Lieutenant’s Island, thrust out into greater Wellfleet Harbor. It affords a lovely walk along shaded dirt roads, beside marshes that turn gold in autumn, dark tidal creeks, and distant views of the harbor islands. There is a town landing at the end of the road, which, among other things, provides access to the rich oyster beds of Loagy Bay.

The Local Cemetery, Another Part of the Village

Dec 31, 2019
Joy Real / unsplash

I love walking in the cemetery in the early morning. You know, before anyone wakes up.

Sorry, just some dumb cemetery humor.

Swing in the Woods

Dec 24, 2019
Dennis Minsky

I met a kindred spirit on my walk in the woods this morning.  I did not actually lay eyes on anybody, but I did encounter someone’s creation: a bright pink swing hanging from a branch in a clearing. 

Wind Season

Dec 17, 2019
Mary Bergman

I think we need a fifth season on Nantucket: winter, spring, summer, fall, and wind. Ever since the ferries rounded Brant Point with the last of the summer folks, the wind has been relentless. Nearly each week we’ve encountered at least one day where the boats don’t run, when we are woken up at three in the morning by the howling wind. Trees bend to the point of snapping, and hair tangles on even the shortest walk.

Robert Finch

On Monday afternoon I went out to Newcomb Hollow, where an enormous amount of sand had been removed from the beach by the new moon tides and easterly winds of the past couple of days. The beach erosion revealed a horizontal floor of blue clay that ran along the base of the cliffs for at least 200 feet in a band 20 to 30 feet wide. These wide, horizontal ledges were a mixture of solid-blue and yellow-reddish clay feathered with thin exfoliations of rust-colored iron oxide. The impression was that of walking over a slick and fragile tessellated marble floor.

What's In A Name?

Dec 3, 2019
Living Lab file image from 2013

We live, literally, a stone’s throw from the town dump. I know, I know-“dump” is not the proper name for what is currently an officially known as the town transfer station. Nevertheless, most people in town still refer to it as the town dump.

The Sweet Taste of Island Scallop Season

Nov 26, 2019

Scallopers are hard at work on the Tisbury side of Lagoon Pond. This is cause for some celebration in my town.

After several poor years, commercial fishermen are earning several hundred dollars a day and recreational scallopers are enjoying one of the delicacies of Island waters — and stocking their freezers too.

Trying to Love November

Nov 19, 2019
Mary Bergman

I’m trying to love November, or at the very least make peace with it. Each year, I mourn the end of Daylight Savings Time, and grumble about the painfully early sunsets. Only the heartiest few roses remain in the gardens in town, the sidewalks slippery with fallen leaves. Plenty of people have cleared out in search of someplace warmer. But I have nowhere else to go.

L Lerner

On one of those gorgeous October days we had this fall I took a walk along the shores of Little Pleasant Bay in South Orleans with my friend Ric. The air was calm, the light incandescent with hidden meaning. 

Abandoned Gardens

Nov 5, 2019
L Lerner

Many, perhaps most people on Cape Cod, have, or have had, a garden. And a garden is, as I have written elsewhere, “something we seek to cordon off from nature, to make over in our own image, to give a shape to…”   Perhaps that is why abandoned gardens are so much more poignant than other manifestations of our limited tenancy on the earth.  

Finding Solace in the Changing Woods

Oct 29, 2019
L Lerner

Now it is late October and a walk in the woods has a different feel to it.  The days so far have still been fairly warm but night-time temperatures are lower, and the plant life is here to testify to the fact that change is on the way.  

An Element Both Familiar and Strange

Oct 22, 2019
Mary Bergman

These are days that can’t decide exactly who they are. Mornings are cold, but the late afternoon sun streams in low through the windows and it could still be summer. Maybe. People have pumpkins and Halloween decorations in their yards, but roses are still blooming in some of the gardens. A pair of lonely crickets chirp outside my window as night comes too early. It’s a season of change. But some places stay the same.

Finding Our Proper Relationship to the Natural World

Oct 15, 2019
L Lerner

A friend of mine who lives in Eastham was preparing his morning coffee when he heard a ruckus in his yard and looked out to see a hawk grappling with a grackle. “Hey,” he said, “these are my grackles!” and he ran out and chased away the hawk.  He later shared this episode on Facebook.

An October Treestand

Oct 8, 2019
Nelson Sigelman

It is deer hunting season on Martha’s Vineyard. The eight-week archery season, which began October seventh across the Cape and islands, is a favorite time of my outdoor calendar.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate much about the fall hunting experience. And some stuff, not so much.

Yellow Jackets

Oct 1, 2019
L Lerner

I don’t think most of my friends would describe me as a killer, but after I got stung by the yellow jackets living under my deck, I turned into a cold-hearted murderer, loaded for… well, yellow jackets.

A Week in a Dune Shack in the Province Lands

Sep 24, 2019
Mary Bergman

All summer long, I’ve watched as the calendar moved closer to September. September meant the end of the summer rush, a chance to catch my breath. I watched the days get shorter, by a minute or so at first until whole hours of daylight had been swallowed up. September would mean my week in a dune shack in the Province Lands.

A New Balance

Sep 17, 2019
L. Lerner

I was walking on the beach in the East End with my dog Dory.  It was a very low tide and we were halfway out on the flats, trudging through the wet sand and the warm shallow pools of left-behind water.  She happily carried her tennis ball in her mouth and I followed her wagging tail at a moderate pace.  

The Labor Day Conundrum

Sep 10, 2019
L. Lerner

In an off-Cape store last month, one of the clerks noticed the address on my account. “Oh, you live on the Cape,” she said. “You must be looking forward to Labor Day.”

Boats By Many Names

Sep 3, 2019
Nelson Sigelman

Four days a week I patrol Lake Tashmoo in a small skiff for the Tisbury shellfish department. Tashmoo is a lake in name only. A 270-acre coastal pond on the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard, it’s connected to Vineyard Sound by a deep, narrow channel. 

The Apex of Summer and the Freedom of September

Aug 27, 2019
Mary Bergman

It was one of those days where the sand scorches your feet, where even the ocean doesn’t feel crisp enough to refresh you. Summer was at its apex, the sun and the smell of salt and sunscreen enough to intoxicate you.

A Pathway Less Traveled

Aug 20, 2019
Scott Webb / unsplash

Who is not a fan of nature trails?  They provide an opportunity to connect with the natural world, to see, hear, smell and touch the glories of nature, and be surrounded by them.  Thoreau famously said, “In wildness is the preservation of mankind.”