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, 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," will be out in May.

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

 

The history of the retreat of our beaches in the face of the unappeasable force of the ocean is a long and ongoing one. But over the past year the process seems to have kicked into a higher gear and presented us with a fascinating variety of retreats, strategic and otherwise. 

Robert Finch

I was walking in the backwoods with a friend the other day.  He was waxing philosophical about trees, drawing lessons from life about them. “Look at the circle of life here,” he said. “Here you have healthy trees standing tall, others dying and dead all around them. But look, on the ground, are new shoots, just beginning to grow, and actually nurtured by the old dead trunks.” 

Robert Finch

Several years ago I did a radio program about a bronze plaque that was bolted to a large glacial boulder on the tidal flats of Nauset Harbor in Orleans. The plaque commemorated the departure point of the first successful row across the Atlantic Ocean, completed by two Englishmen, John Ridgeway and Chay Blyth, in the summer of 1966.

L. Lerner

There has been much singing down in the kettle hole tonight. Spring peepers and wood frogs are out in force, producing an electrical, amphibious chorus magnified by the megaphone shape of the hole. At dusk I walked out to the edge of the yard and, in the dying light, made my way slowly and carefully down to the wetland at the bottom of the slope, trying not to disturb their singing.

On Great Expectations

Mar 20, 2018
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I remember the first time I visited Walden Pond. It was a brilliant spring day, decades ago now, when I cycled out to Concord, Massachusetts. I had read and admired Thoreau for years and this was my first trip to the spot where he wrote his classic account of living alone in the woods. I arrived with great expectations, but came away oddly disappointed.

Charlotte Coneybeer / unsplash

Last month, late on Valentine’s Day afternoon, I went out to Chipman’s Cove to see if I could get some oysters. Normally I don’t bother going out so late in the season, since the recreational shellfishing flats are usually pretty well picked over by mid-February. But my son and my daughter were making dinner for us on Sunday and their sole request was to have some Wellfleet oysters, so I decided to try.

A Winter Beach Walk

Feb 27, 2018
L. Lerner

One day last month, when the temperature crept above freezing and the wind dipped below ten knots, I decided to do a beach walk from Newcomb Hollow to Ballston Beach, a distance of about 2.5 miles.  

JJ Losier / bit.ly/2BpVi90 / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

I had a pretty happy childhood, all things considered.  Actually, most children growing up in America in the early 1950s experienced a general sense of well-being – that is, if you were white and not poor.

Roads on My Mind

Feb 13, 2018
Patrick Hendry bit.ly/2BqaP8P

For the past several days I’ve been mapping a small area of woods in the southern part of our town known informally as “The Maze.” The area is about a half square mile in extent, or something over 300 acres. 

capecodtransit.org

It was now 1:05, and still no sign of the Flex bus to Orleans.  I stood in front of the Eastham Superette talking with the man in the electric wheelchair, onto which he seemed to have packed and tied all his worldly possessions. 

capecodtransit.org

I seldom ride the Flex bus, which, for those of you not familiar with it, is that part of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority that serves passengers from Harwich to Provincetown.  Despite being a strong believer in public mass transport, I have tended to view the Flex bus more as a well-intentioned gesture rather than something that fulfills a real need. 

Steven Pinker bit.ly/2DyRpRK

Today I want to talk a bit about the “wrack line,” that more or less continuous line of debris left on the beach by the previous high tide. The content of the wrack line can be meager and ordinary – just a few bits of seaweed – or overwhelming and dramatic, like the 40-foot carcass of a dead humpback whale that washed up at Newcomb Hollow several years ago. But if we only investigate the content of the wrack line, big or small, I think we miss the bigger question. 

Kimson Doan bit.ly/2DEc2bJ

 

One of the things that holds the fabric of a community together, especially in a small town like mine, is what I like to call Public Gathering Places, or PGPs. These are places where we can have informal contact and conversation with people we might otherwise never meet. With the rise of social networking, which allows us increasingly to isolate ourselves with a wall of digital connections, such public gathering places have become even more important.  

 

Arlene Koziol / https://www.flickr.com/photos/29411257@N00/5596144437

 

The other day my dog Sam and I went for a walk along a stretch of the old railroad bed in South Wellfleet. At one point Sam went snuffling through the brush that bordered the bed and drew my attention to a pile of feathers there. 

Robert Finch

I am standing in a cold, bleak place under a leaden sky. A raw northeast wind cuts through my windbreaker and brings the smell of saltwater with it. This is not some remote beach or heath.  In fact, I’m only a few yards from the unending roar of traffic on Route 6.

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