A Cape Cod Notebook | WCAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

Robert Finch

When we think of town conservation areas, we usually think of large tracts of protected land, places like the 1200-acre West Barnstable Conservation Area, or perhaps somewhat smaller tracts like the 44-acre Wiley Park in Eastham. But over the past couple of decades there have been dozens of other, smaller conservation areas created on the Cape and Islands, all of them less than twenty acres in extent, and most under ten.

http://www.cathedralgrove.eu

Last August I flew out to Santa Cruz, California, to attend my nephew’s wedding. It had been nearly twenty-five years since I had been out West, and even longer since I had seen some of my relatives.

Tofu bit.ly/2cF4Dg5 / bit.ly/OJZNiI

We are about to enter “northeaster season,” that time of year when ocean storms strafe our exposed peninsula, often rearranging its topography. They also tend to rearrange our image of ourselves, from that of beleaguered residents enduring the onslaught of summer tourists to that of “rugged New Englanders,” enduring our character-building climate of winter gales and occasional blizzards. 

Thomas Gehrke bit.ly/2cxbZoZ / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Over the summer I gave a number of public readings from my new collection of Cape Cod Notebook radio essays. At the Q&A sessions at the end at the end of these readings, one question I could almost count on being asked was, “When and how did you first connect with Nature?”

Mark H. Anbinder bit.ly/2ctl9kw / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

I was coming back from a trip to Western Mass a few weeks ago when I stopped at a local diner and witnessed something remarkable, though in one sense it could not have been more banal. I sat at the counter and ordered a chocolate shake.

Dave Huth bit.ly/2bzjE2U / bit.ly/OJZNiI

The other day, by pure chance, I witnessed a very intimate act between two consenting adults that gave me a new appreciation of the capacity for passion and gentleness among – do I have your attention? – among invertebrates.

Tom Whitten bit.ly/2bOKwNq / bit.ly/OJZNiI

One of my favorite stories about Wellfleet in the summer is told by the critic Alfred Kazin in his memoir, New York Jew. Kazin recounts one day in the 1950s when he was walking through Wellfleet center and passed a front yard in which there were several boys playing rather noisily. A woman in the nearby house put her head out of a window and said, “Would you children please find another yard to play in?  My husband is trying to write a book review, and I’m sure your fathers are, too.”

Joseph bit.ly/2aJ9Upb / bit.ly/OJZNiI

When I pulled into Newcomb Hollow, the beach was curiously empty. There were only three cars in the parking lot, and two of those left almost immediately. The waves were low and quiet, silently tossing massive logs and bright flags of sea lettuce about in the surf.

Andreas Faessler bit.ly/2asocUQ / bit.ly/1kvyKWi

One night last week I had dinner with friends in Provincetown. Afterwards we debated whether to go out to Herring Cove to watch the Perseid meteor shower or to stroll along the circus midway that is Commercial Street in August.

geneva_wirth bit.ly/2b0eE5H / bit.ly/OJZNiI

The great green islands of the marsh slipped smoothly by: high, flat, raised grasslands whose creeks and configurations were completely hidden from my angle of view. Their smooth fringed bank suggested the shore of unknown, untouched coasts above the grass. 

Paul-W bit.ly/2arFSUP / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Tides, along with the seasons and the diurnal rhythms, are one of the few dependably regular reciprocal rhythms in nature. One can journey into winter, or midnight, knowing one will be returned, in time, to summer and the light of day.

Graham Baker bit.ly/2a2khOS / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Cape Cod is a region that is usually spoken of, even by year-round residents, as if it were one fairly homogeneous place, with bigger or smaller waves, and perhaps some variation in traffic from season to season. I have lived here for over 40 years, and I am still learning about how different the various parts of this slim, sandy peninsula are.

Ib Aarmo bit.ly/29vZinh / bit.ly/OJZNiI

The other day I was watching a flock of terns diving into an inlet after sand eels. They would hover seven or eight feet in the air on whirring wings and fanned out tails, then drop like arrows beneath the fast-sliding currents, emerging a few seconds later with wriggling sand eels in their beaks.

Robert Finch

One of my wife Kathy’s favorite sayings is that, in recounting your vacation experiences, what most listeners want to hear is not the good or pleasant things that happened, but rather the minor disasters and near-catastrophes – the things that didn’t quite seriously hurt you. 

Nesson Marshall bit.ly/28Of1l4 / bit.ly/1hYHpKw

About a third of a mile east of Route 6 in my hometown of Wellfleet, one comes upon the longest remaining continuous stretch of the original King's Highway, the first road deliberately laid out down the entire length of Cape Cod. This road gets its name from the fact that in 1660, King Charles II of England gave a royal grant to have this road constructed.

Rover Thor http://bit.ly/1Ux1uL3 / http://bit.ly/1jNlqZo

One day last week, Kathy and I took some time off and spent several hours at one of our favorite ponds: a small, clear, kettle-hole pond hidden deep in the Wellfleet woods.

When we got to the pond, the morning mist had burned off and the day had turned sunny and pleasantly warm. 

Lessons of the Shed

Jun 7, 2016
Robert Finch

Some of you may recall a couple of programs I did last January about building a shed - a project I worked on sporadically over the fall and winter. All through our relatively mild and almost-snowless winter I would grab a few days of warm weather to continue working on the shed.

Bob MacInnes / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Last week I described how a mother fox had given birth to four fox kits under the shed next to our house. For several days we watched the kits playing on a patch of open ground just outside the shed. But, sensing our presence, or so we assumed, the mother fox, or vixen, had apparently removed them to a new location. 

Robert Finch

The fox is back, and this time she has four kits with her. It was the last week of April when we began hearing those weird, high, harsh shrieks at night – fox alarm, or fox mating calls, I was told.

Robert Finch

There’s a little dirt road in our town that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Its name is High Toss Bridge Road, and how it got that unusual name is a story in itself, but I’ll save that for last.

Dawidl / WikimediaCommons

For the past month or so, I have been watching the slow development of the flower buds on the red maple tree outside my study. This weekend, the maple blossoms came down in showers of wind, falling like small dark red stars onto the ground.

Two Shores, Two Lives

May 3, 2016
Joanna Vaughan / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Last night, driving home from a movie in Dennis, I stopped at Linnell Landing on the Brewster shore to see if I could still see the Provincetown Monument from there. Instead, I saw my life, as it was, and as it is.

Marcy Leigh / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I went out to Marconi Beach yesterday to see what it might have to say. At some times and places, where the bluffs are relatively low, say 30 or 40 feet, as they are here, and the tide fairly far out, as it was then, it’s the beach, in all its wide expanse, that takes precedence.

pixabay

One of the reasons I look forward to the opening of P.J.’s on Rt. 6 in Wellfleet each spring is so that I can once again get a kiddie-vanilla-cone-with-a-chocolate-dip for $1.87, including tax.

Arthur Chapman / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Human beings seem to possess a perennial urge to locate and define those qualities that make our species unique. We are constantly looking for traits that we don’t share with any other living creatures. 

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