A Cape Cod Notebook | WCAI

A Cape Cod Notebook

Credit Kathy Shorr

A Cape Cod Notebook can be heard every Tuesday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm.

It's commentary on the unique people, wildlife, and environment of our coastal region.

A Cape Cod Notebook commentators include:

Robert Finch, a nature writer living in Wellfleet who created, 'A Cape Cod Notebook.' It won the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing. He has lived on and written about Cape Cod for forty years. He is the author of six collections of essays, including "The Iambics of Newfoundland" (Counterpoint Press), and co-editor of "The Norton Book of Nature Writing." His new book, "The Outer Beach: A Thousand-Mile Walk Along Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore."

Mary Bergman, originally from Provincetown, now lives on Nantucket.  She is a writer and historian, working in historic preservation and writing a novel. 

Nelson Sigelman is an award winning former reporter, outdoor writer and author. He has been honored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the New England Press Association. His most recent book is Martha’s Vineyard Outdoors, Fishing, Hunting and Avoiding Divorce on a Small Island. He currently works part time for the Tisbury Shellfish Department and lives with his wife Norma in Vineyard Haven.

Susan Moeller - Susan Moeller is a freelance writer and editor who was a reporter and editor with the Boston Herald and Cape Cod Times. She’s lived on the Cape for 45 years and when not working, swims, plays handbells, pretends to garden and walks her dog, Dug. She lives in Cummaquid. 

Dennis Minsky's career as a field biologist began in 1974, at Cape Cod National Seashore, protecting nesting terns and plovers.  A Provincetown resident since 1968, he returned full time in 2005.  He is involved in many local conservation projects, works as a naturalist on the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, and tries to write.

 A Cape Cod Notebook is made possible in part with support from Titcomb’s Bookshop on Route 6A in East Sandwich.

My Mother's Catalogs

Feb 4, 2013
Robert Finch

My mother passed away in the fall of 2005, at the age of 92.  She lives on, however, not only in the memory of those of us who knew and loved her, but apparently also in the U.S. Postal Service. For several years after her death, I, as her executor, continued to receive letters from friends who had not heard of her demise, pleas for donations to various charities, and offers for Florida resorts and dance classes, both of which she took advantage of up to the year of her death.

More persistently than any of these, however, is the continued appearance of retail catalogs addressed to her in my mailbox. These are not just any catalogs, but are targeted at a specific demographic: women of my mother’s generation who identified themselves primarily as “homemakers.”

Audio posted above

Vern Laux

On Nauset Beach, Robert Finch contemplates the presence of eiders, and their embodiment of a natural community. 

H. K. Cummings / Snow Library Digital Collections

Early Cape Cod photographer H. K. Cummings maintained a mistress for more than 50 years, even vacationing with her and his wife. On A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch continues the recollections of Rowena Myers. She explains the way a small town can assimilate unconventional relationships and keep a public secret.

View some of H. K. Cummings' historical photographs of Orleans and its people and environments at the website of the Snow Library.

H. K. Cummings / Snow Library Digital Collections

  The glass-plate photographs of H. K. Cummings bring to life Cape Cod in an earlier time. On A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch recalls Cummings from the vantage of one who knew him, Rowena Myers.

You can view some of H. K. Cummings' historical photographs of Orleans and its people and environments at the website of the Snow Library.

Robert Finch

How far away do you need to go, to be from 'away'? On A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch brings us another story about his old friend Rowena Myers of Orleans. She lived in the large yellow Greek revival farmhouse at the head of Town Cove from her birth in 1904 to her death in 1996. She recalled for Bob a story from her childhood, when a teacher singled out some classmates by their family names and origins.


Robert Finch's late friend Rowena Myers had a distaste for anything new. On A Cape Cod Notebook, Bob remembers when, as one of her "boys," he repaired her doorbell. She lived in the large yellow Greek Revival farmhouse at the head of Town Cove in Orleans from her birth in 1904 to her death in 1996. During the month of January, the Snow Library in Orleans will be presenting the annual Rowena Myers Concert Series on Saturday afternoons at 4 p.m., funded by a bequest from her estate.

Ricardo Wang / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Building a night fire at the edge of a frozen kettlehole illuminates a world captured in stark relief. In A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch creeps out upon the ice on all fours to peer into a frozen realm, where he finds surprising life.  

In Praise of Downtowns

Dec 19, 2012
: from the movie Voices from the Basement

A nature writer turns his observational powers on the city, as Robert Finch considers Boston's Downtown Crossing. He finds surprises, and cause for wonder, in this urban commercial crossroads, on this week's Cape Cod Notebook.

Gay Head Cliffs. Photo by K. McLeod., NPS

While abundant in many natural effects, Cape Cod provides few treasures to the fossil hunter. Nearby Gay Head is an exception.  But this week, from an unremarkable handful of clay on the Outer Cape, Bob discovers microscopic fossils of ancient sponges, diatoms, and pollen grains.


A walk among the departed of the Howes family at a cemetery in Dennis gives rise to contemplation and speculation, this week on A Cape Cod Notebook.


How did wild turkeys get into the National Seashore?  On A Cape Cod Notebook this week, Bob Finch ponders the much maligned wild turkey, and recounts a near mythic tale of how the wild turkey was re-introduced to Cape Cod and the National Seashore, skirting the letter of the law.

A Piano in the House

Nov 13, 2012


Nov 6, 2012

A Cape Cod Notebook by Robert Finch.  Bob points out that he recorded this essay before Superstorm Sandy arrived last week.

A Choir of Coyotes

Oct 30, 2012

Living with coyotes on Cape Cod.

Little Things, part 2

Oct 23, 2012

In part two, Bob continues his recollection of a major event 50 years ago this month – the Cuban missile crisis, when it seemed the United States and Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war. Bob was a young reporter for a small newspaper on the Outer Cape then. He wrote a column on the events of that time, calling it “Little Things,” evoking those events that make up our lives.