A Cape Cod Notebook | WCAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

October Days and Slowing Down

Oct 16, 2018
Mary Bergman

I can’t help it--I always bring the car to a crawl when I drive down Shore Road in North Truro. Something about all those cottage colonies, all those motels, the scene of hundreds of thousands of summer vacations compels me to drive a little slower. I want to look in every window.

The Peregrine Falcon and the Snowy Owl

Oct 9, 2018
wikicommons / bit.ly/2CwJZ07

The Snowy Owl flew before me, out of the dunes and onto the outer beach, and landed in all its softness.  I had barely a minute to admire the wonder of its plumage, its squat white body, somewhat incongruous on a sandy beach, its large yellow blinking eyes, when out of nowhere a Peregrine Falcon appeared, and, screaming, plunged from the sky to surge and swipe at the owl, again and again and again.  

Golden Hour at Madaket

Oct 2, 2018
Mary Bergman

 

I was walking out in Madaket, the westernmost end of Nantucket, a few nights ago, when I noticed everything was golden. The sky, of course, with the sun’s last lingering rays. But the beach grass, too, is going to seed. I’m sure it was just yesterday that the grass was a bright, spring green. Now each strand is streaked with golden highlights. 

L. Lerner

 

It was only a matter of time. With critical masses of seals, sharks and people in the water, it couldn’t not happen. We knew this, yet somehow it was still a shock. People have a great capacity for denial, but there’s nothing like a violent death to make us sit up and take notice.

Our Role with the Swallows

Sep 18, 2018
Lance Asper / unsplash

About a month ago, on the little harbor-side beach we have frequented for over forty years, I noticed a couple of swallows.  Tree Swallows, I thought, or Barn Swallows – the two most commonly seen. But, no, their dingy brown plumage and squared-off tails identified them as Northern Rough-wing Swallows, a species I had never noticed in this particular spot before.

All That Washes Ashore

Sep 11, 2018
Mary Bergman

I spent most of my summers learning to sail at the West End Racing Club in Provincetown. The other kids were all natives of this sandy spit, and they all took to sailing like they had salt water in their veins. Most were the children of fishermen or  the great-granddaughters of whalers who overwintered in the Arctic.

Shellfish Memories

Sep 4, 2018
Matthew Essman / unsplash

Robert Finch was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is taking some time off.  We've gone into the archives, and today we're re-airing one of our favorite A Cape Cod Notebook essays. It's called "Shellfish Memories."

Naming Our Local Humpback Whales

Aug 28, 2018
D. Gordon E. Robertson / Wiki Commons / bit.ly/1kvyKWi

 

 

It was coming on evening out on Stellwagen Bank, the red ball of the sun descending through the clouds. It had done its job, though- burning off the lingering fog banks out over the water.  We were surrounded by whales- Humpback Whales- spouting and diving all around our boat.  

Slowing Down for Blackberries

Aug 21, 2018
Mary Bergman

I’m lucky enough to live just over a mile from the beach, a straight shot along the Surfside bike path. If I’m running, which I have been doing to varying degrees of success over the last three years, I can make it to the end of the road and to the mouth of the sand trail that leads to Surfside in 10 minutes. Walking takes closer to 15 minutes. 

What You Discover on the Backshore Beach

Aug 14, 2018
L. Lerner

The Backshore beach is a veritable graveyard.  Littered all about, from the tide line up into the dunes, are bodies and body parts.  Some are fresh, the tide’s latest delivery; others lie, bleached and scoured, as if they had been there for all time. 

A Rare Moment of Weightlessness

Aug 7, 2018
Mary Bergman

Lately I have taken to floating—lying on my back in the bay and letting the water cradle me. It can be hard to make it to the beach, even in the heat of summer, as so many other stressors pull on our time. There are a lot who live on Nantucket that hardly ever get to the beach. As one neighbor said to me: “I live on an island—--the beach will always be there.”

A Summer Beach Without a Plover?

Jul 31, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

For quite a few years I worked for Cape Cod National Seashore on its shorebird project, studying and protecting nesting terns and plovers.  It was always with trepidation that I stepped inside an “enclosed area”- delineated with “symbolic fencing”-posts and twine lines with surveyor’s tape-the domain of one of our subject birds, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodius).  

A State of Deep Emotion While Saving a Life

Jul 24, 2018
Evan Kirby / unsplash

 

This week on A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who shares his experience saving a life.

When the Fish Aren't Biting

Jul 17, 2018

 

I cleaned the rain gutters on my house this weekend. Which is another way of saying the fishing is slow.

Grappling With Eating Clams and Being Vegetarian

Jul 10, 2018
L. Lerner

During this week's A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who talks about his struggle with being a vegetarian and eating clams.

 

The Fascinating Past of the Island Fisherman

Jul 3, 2018
Nelson Sigelman

 

A Cape Cod Notebook, WCAI's weekly essay series about life on the Cape and Islands, continues this week with a piece from contributor Nelson Sigelman. He writes about a friend who is an island fisherman with a mysterious past.

The Great Fiction

Jun 26, 2018
L. Lerner

It’s with mixed feelings that I must tell you this will be my last Cape Cod Notebook broadcast for a while.  Mixed feelings because I have greatly enjoyed doing these weekly programs over the past thirteen years. On the other hand, the reason for this leave is that I have recently been named a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2018. 

A Muskrat Encounter

Jun 19, 2018
Tom Koerner / USFWS / Creative Commons 2.0 / https://bit.ly/2JWwTJG

It was a beautiful afternoon in early June that I first explored the “Historical Society of Old Yarmouth Nature Trails.” These trails are located just behind the Yarmouth Port post office on Rt. 6A. At first glance it looks like a typical mid-Cape conservation area, encompassing some fifty acres of wooded uplands, wetlands, old pasture, and a small pond. But every place has its own individual character and its unique potential for unexpected encounters.

L. Lerner

 

It’s 5:30 in the afternoon at Newcomb Hollow Beach, and I am sitting on the sand directly in front of the parking lot so as to catch the last fifteen minutes of sun on the beach. The surf is regular and moderate, but only one paddle-boarder pushes leisurely out onto the surface of the sea between swells, stands up on his board, and then, as my granddaughter Coco puts it, he begins to “sweep the ocean.” 

Sounds From the Past

Jun 5, 2018
Harp Gallery / https://bit.ly/2JicmPm

I have a long and somewhat odd history with old phonographs and records.  During my early years on the Cape I once salvaged several old Enrico Caruso records - 12” in diameter and only recorded on one side – from an abandoned dune shack.  Over the years I also bought several dozen more old records from Ben Thatcher’s Sound Museum in East Dennis. I kept them all, though it was years before I had anything to play them on. 

Franco Folini / flickr / https://bit.ly/2xjRXIl / Amazon

The other day, crossing Uncle Tim’s Bridge, I saw a flock of fourteen yellowlegs feeding in the gray slurry of the mud flats of Duck Creek at low tide.  Greater and lesser yellowlegs are two of our most readily- identifiable local shorebirds. They are by far the largest of the sandpipers, with stilt-like bright yellow shanks that give them their common name. Their call is an unmistakable three-note descending whistle: CHOO-choo-choo, CHOO-choo-choo.

L. Lerner

The other evening I went for a walk on Bound Brook Island and was struck by it all – not just by what was there, but by what had passed, and what was yet to come. 

The Fallen Towhee

May 15, 2018
Steve Richey / unsplash

A strange thing happened Saturday afternoon. I had been cutting up some boards on the outside deck, when I noticed, lying on the saber saw, the body of a male towhee. I’d only turned away from the sawhorses for a minute or two and had heard no sound, and yet there it was, draped carefully over the metal casing of the saw, lying on its side, as if deliberately and carefully placed there by a cat, or a child - except there was no cat or child. 

A Snapper in the Rain

May 8, 2018
L. Lerner

This happened on the evening of our last rain storm, or what the old Cape Codders called a “tempest.” I’ve always liked that word, “tempest.” It goes back to Elizabethan times. Shakespeare used it as the title of his last play, in which the spirit Ariel says, “We are such things as dreams are made on.” Its root comes from tempus, the Latin word for time, and it connotes a great disturbance, one in which the doors between the present and the past might be suddenly flung open.

This is the brightest time of the year. That may seem like a counterintuitive statement, since spring on Cape Cod usually conjures up images of cloudy skies and rain showers. But on a sunny day in early May, if you can divest yourself of seasonal prejudices, the world can seem more bright than at any other time of the year.

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