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.

After the Storm

Aug 8, 2017
Cape Cod National Seashore Park Service

When, along with hundreds of others, I arrived at a barricaded Coast Guard Beach the morning after the storm, the air was full of metaphors of war. The beach, people said, looked as though it had been strafed and bombed.

MARCH 2006. This morning at about 4 a.m. the Josephia, a 39-foot scallop vessel out of Stoughton, Maine, went aground just north of the old Eastham Coast Guard station, breaking up and forcing its two-man crew—Michael Darragh, 34, and his brother-in-law Ian Orchard, 32—along with Orchard’s one-year-old pug Leo, to swim for shore in high seas and 38° water. Miraculously, all three made it ashore alive.

http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/kh04mv08n

On March 29, 1984, I went out to Coast Guard Beach with a Boston television crew from Channel 5 to videotape a program about barrier beaches and how they cope with storms and erosion – part of their series on “Survival.” It was a cool, dry day, and the crew had set up on the parking lot overlooking the Eastham barrier beach, still recovering after it was smashed flat six years earlier by the “Great Storm of ’78.” I was interviewed by a friendly man with a boyish face.

The Ocean Provides

Jul 18, 2017
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

May, 1979. I have been living alone for three days now in a cottage on the west shore of North Beach, a long and narrow barrier spit of low sand dunes and salt marsh lying a mile or so east of Chatham at the elbow of Cape Cod.

The Sands of Monomoy

Jul 11, 2017
Zachary Cava/USFWS / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsnortheast/4622277760

August, 1977. I have been burned. I sit here in the cool morning shade of our oaks and I can feel my face burning, radiating the heat of yesterday’s sun, sun that glinted off emerald swells, bone- and shell-strewn sands, silvered flats. Was it only yesterday I was there? It seems a thousand days away.

byron cain bit.ly/2sDqXAL / bit.ly/1jNlqZo

The first time I ever saw the Outer Beach was in the spring of 1962—April, I think—when I was nineteen. My freshman roommate at Harvard was John Hagenbuckle, whose father ran one of the dozen-or-so sailing camps that dotted the inner shores of Pleasant Bay in those days.

pleasantpointinn / flickr

Last June, for my birthday, Kathy and I spent a week in an old cottage on a Maine lake. As Maine lakes go, this one was neither particularly large nor remote. It was about the size of the Cape’s largest ponds and only 20 minutes from Portland.

On Grief Delayed

Jun 20, 2017
mgstanton http://bit.ly/1VXzLse / http://bit.ly/OJZNiI

My father was a quiet man. He rarely asserted himself in a conversation. He was a quiet man, but he was a decisive one, who hardly ever consulted anyone else in making decisions. I remember as a child that every few years he would go out on a Saturday morning. When he came back he would toss a set of keys to my mother, his way of announcing to all of us that he had just bought a new car.

Laurel Wilkerson / USFWS / flickr

Earlier this week, coming back from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, I stopped at Gray’s Beach in Yarmouthport and walked out the long, straight, wooden weathered boardwalk that struts its way several hundred feet directly out onto the salt marsh. The beach itself is punctuated with “memorial benches,” which seem to have flourished since I was last here. There are at least a half-dozen now, so that one is always sitting on someone’s memory.

J J / WCAI

The thesaurus lists over 80 different words for green, more than any other color. But Robert Finch believes this may still not be enough. At a time of year when many are rhapsodizing the flowers, Bob contemplates the richness and variety of leaf tones that nature crowds into the season.

Robert Finch is taking some time off to write a new book. In his absence we're replaying some favorite essays. This week's essay originally aired in June, 2013.

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