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.

Robert Finch

An indoor swimming pool may be artificial, chlorinated, fluorescent-lit, and tepid. But on A Cape Cod Notebook, naturalist Robert Finch notes that the indoor pool does have its charms and pleasures, its distinctive character allowing for an observation of the nature of water in a way that would be impossible out of doors.

Robert Finch

An impressive number of trees were blown down or fractured by winds in our recent season of storms, as gusts reportedly reached hurricane force in many places. The trees fell according to their nature; shallow-rooted red maples in low-lying swamps tended to uproot entirely, raising great, shaggy, vertical disks of roots into the air. Oaks, stronger and more deeply rooted, did not succumb as often, or if they did, showed that they were weakened by inner decay. But it was the pitch pines that suffered most.

Robert Finch

At the height of the tide, with a 3-foot-plus storm surge urging it on, a mighty cataract of furious white-water poured through the break, shattering the flanking dunes and spreading out in a 500-foot fan of salt flood waters into the marshes of the Pamet. On A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch witnesses this dramatic event at the height of last week's storm, and he recalls other incursions made upon Ballston Beach by the sea.

University of Leicester / Reuters/Landov

Sometimes the past returns, and surprises us with what it tells us about the present. The recent discovery of Richard III's bones under a parking garage in England sparks Robert Finch's newest essay for A Cape Cod Notebook.

Cape Cod Times

Coast Guard Beach came through the recent blizzard largely intact - a surprise to some. In A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch remembers the devastation imparted on the beach and its surroundings by the storm of 1978. He attributes the beach's survival amid the brutal Blizzard of '13 to nature having been allowed to run its course in this location.

Joanna Vaughan /

The coast assumes a different character in winter. In A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch sets out on a solitary walk in the Provincelands, visiting the dune shacks that stand against the wind in a desolate landscape.

Niels Linneberg /

Used to be, bitter cold was an expected part of New England winter. In A Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch observes that in recent years cold snaps have come to seem more a novelty. During a recent spell of frigid weather, he walked out to admire how extreme conditions can make art of nature.

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.