Robert Finch

Robert Finch is a nature writer living in Wellfleet. 'A Cape Cod Notebook' won the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing.

Robert Finch has lived on and written about Cape Cod for forty years. He is the author of six collections of essays, most recently "The Iambics of Newfoundland" (Counterpoint Press), and co-editor of "The Norton Book of Nature Writing."

His essays can be heard on WCAI every Tuesday at 8:30am and 5:45pm.

My First Home

Nov 24, 2015
John Gannon / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most of us have, at one time or another, entered into projects which, had we known what we were actually getting into, we would never have begun in the first place. So it was with my first home.

Anne Swoboda / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

I’ve been thinking about a walk I took in the Provincelands last September, just before the end of that month’s long drought. I parked the car at the Snail Road entrance and walked up the sand ramp into the dunes. The trek up to the top of the first dune is moderately strenuous, but when you reach it, it affords you an unimpeded few of the vastness that is the Provincelands – an uninterrupted, three-square-mile expanse of dune ridge and dune valley. -

The Cape Cod National Seashore has given us many gifts. The most obvious of these are the preservation of significant areas of natural habitat and their wildlife communities. Another less obvious gift, at least in my town, has been the preservations of signs of previous human occupation. 

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / flickr

One morning a few weeks ago I drove to the beach to check out the surf. There was dense fog, and the surf, though convulsed, seemed low - only three-to-four-foot-high breakers. Then I realized that, due to the fog, I was only able to see 100 feet or so offshore, and that these low waves were secondary breakers. The larger waves were breaking further offshore, beyond my line of sight.

American Chestnut Foundation

A few weeks ago an old acquaintance of mine called up and asked if I’d like to go with her to see “a stand of chestnut trees.”

“American chestnuts?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “Skeptical?”

Daniel Schwen / wikimedia commons / CC2.0

It was 166 years ago this month that Henry David Thoreau took his first walk along the Outer Beach of Cape Cod, traversing its length from Eastham to Provincetown in four days. Only four days, yet he saw more than most people see in a lifetime.

Steve Baker / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

One day last fall, I drove a friend up to Boston for a medical appointment at Beth Israel Hospital. She was going to be there for several hours, so I parked the car in the hospital garage and took the T to the Arlington Street Station. From there I walked leisurely through the Boston Garden and Common toward Tremont Street. Already it had the feel of a place shut up.

02420 / flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This morning I drove out to the small parking area between Gull and Higgins Ponds with our black poodle Sam. I don’t usually try to go there in the summer, as parking is very limited, but that morning I was the only one there. It was a lovely, brilliant October day, temps in the high 60s, the sun so bright and broken on the surfaces of the ponds that it hurt my eyes just to look at it.

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

There are actual, physical natural events, and then there are what I call “conceptual natural events,” and sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference. The event I’m thinking about was the so-called “supermoon” – the full moon that occurred at the lunar perigee – that is, the position in its orbit when the moon passes closest to earth.

Massachusetts Office of Tourism / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Most people are familiar with the phrase “déjà vu.”  In fact, I’d guess that most people have experienced it at one time or another. Basically, “déjà vu” is defined as “the illusion or sensation of having already experienced something that is actually being experienced for the first time.”