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.

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Cape Cod Notebook
2:48 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Restoring Herring River Starts with Removing a Nearly 100-year-old Dike

Rebuilding the Herring River dike in the 1970s.
Credit nps.org

Recently I received in the mail a brochure from the Friends of Herring River, a non-profit group that is supporting the Herring River Restoration Project. For those of you who may not be aware of this project, which has been in the planning stages for several years now, a little background might be helpful.           

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Cape Cod Notebook
2:28 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Of Solar-Powered Raspberries and Organic Electricity

Credit jenny downing / flickr

I am not someone who is usually obsessed with my energy consumption. Our house is pretty tight and well-insulated, and we use a relatively modest amount of electricity and fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. 

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A Cape Cod Notebook
5:51 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Starlings in Dennis Harken Back to Shakespeare's England

Credit Hope Abrams / flickr

On Thursday afternoon, on my way back from the periodontist, I stopped in East Dennis for a cup of coffee. The intersection there, at the junction of Route 134 and Route 6A, is a place I have frequented hundreds of times over the years. It was a cool, crisp November day, and as I stood there, warming my hands with the coffee, I saw a flock of several hundred, perhaps 1000 starlings, wheeling above the intersection, perching on the telephone lines, then taking off again.

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Cape Cod Notebook
1:54 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Big Storm Leaves Splendors in Its Wake

Cahoon Hollow
Credit chezsven.blogspot.com

On the night of October 22 a large storm system gyrated up the coast and hit the Outer Cape with the season’s first full-fledged northeaster.  All night long the storm thundered its power, pelting and slapping the house with wind and rain as if in punishment for some sin of which we were unaware. I

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A Cape Cod Notebook
5:14 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Family Cemetery in Wellfleet Offers a Mystery with More Than One Possible Explanation

Lombard Cemetery in Wellfleet.
Credit http://www.cctrails.org

On the north slope of Bound Brook Island in Wellfleet, beneath tall shady pines and overlooking the marsh that separates Wellfleet from South Truro, is a small family cemetery. Such modest graveyards can be found in most towns on the Cape, but this one is different.  Most family cemeteries are located near the original family homestead. This one is in a remote location, far from any house. It is smaller than usual, containing only three graves and two stones. And yet, it’s enclosed by substantial granite posts and a double railing of galvanized iron pipes.

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A Cape Cod Notebook
3:48 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Beach Roses, Pitch Pines, and Big Dunes are Not So Cape Cod as You Imagine

Ah, the lovely beach rose - quintessential Cape Cod, yes? Think again. Rosa rugosa is an invasive species, native to Asia.
Credit Roger LeJeune / flickr

It’s an old saw that there’s not one square foot on Cape Cod that has not been altered by some human activity over the centuries. Harbors have been dredged, highways have been built, marshes filled in, beaches lined with stone jetties or concrete bulwarks, and woodlands carved up for subdivisions – just to name a few of the more obvious effects.

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A Cape Cod Notebook
1:56 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Mysterious Tower in North Truro Entwined with a Legend of Jenny Lind

Jenny Lind Tower in North Truro.
Credit Ktr101 / Wikimedia Commons

One of the oddest juxtapositions of architecture on Cape Cod can be found in North Truro at the boundary of the old air force base and the Highland Links Golf Course immediately to its north. During most of the Cold War, the North Truro Air Force Base was part of the DEWLINE, or Distant Early Warning system.

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Cape Cod Notebook
2:44 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Fort Hill Harbors 400 Years of History, But Little of It Shows

Fort Hill Trail, Eastham
Credit bbcamericangirl / flickr

Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk along the trails at Fort Hill in Eastham. Young milkweed plants are peeping up in the recently-mown meadows as if it were spring. Mixed in with them are the deep brick-reds of Virginia creeper and poison ivy vines, the yellow-dotted pale but intense lavenders of New England asters, the golden leaves and deep red berries of bittersweet, and, out in the marsh, the white feathery seed tufts of marsh elder. Along the shore a wide band of Phragmites reed, or Pampas grass, waves in all its soft brown and silver plumery.

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Cape Cod Notebook
2:23 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Season's End Reveals Itself in Myriad Natural Signs

Credit Cape Cod Cyclist / flickr

Late on a late September afternoon I got out of the car and started to walk slowly, as I had done so many times that year, across the long sandy stretch of barrier beach toward the unseen sea. I came to the little wooden footbridge that spanned the shallow tidal river. Its two-faced current now flowed gently southward, its depth ebbing with the tide. Here, all summer, blond-haired children had run their stick races, dropping twigs or bits of marsh grass over one side of the bridge, then dashing to the other side to see the winner emerge.

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Cape Cod Notebook
9:25 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

September Canoeing Excursion Reveals a Shoreline of Empty Seats

Empty chairs on Higgins Pond.
Credit weneedavacation.com

A beautiful September day, where everything just stands up and shines. It seemed a sin to stay indoors on a day like this, so I strapped my canoe to the top of my car and headed out to Higgins Pond off Schoolhouse Road. I usually don’t go there in the summer because there are only three parking spaces, and they’re taken early by swimmers and fishermen. But this time of year, especially during the week, users are few. Today there was only one other car there – an Audi.

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