A Cape Cod Notebook

Grappling With Eating Clams and Being Vegetarian

Jul 10, 2018
L. Lerner

During this week's A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who talks about his struggle with being a vegetarian and eating clams.

 

The Fascinating Past of the Island Fisherman

Jul 3, 2018
Nelson Sigelman

 

A Cape Cod Notebook, WCAI's weekly essay series about life on the Cape and Islands, continues this week with a piece from contributor Nelson Sigelman. He writes about a friend who is an island fisherman with a mysterious past.

The Great Fiction

Jun 26, 2018
L. Lerner

It’s with mixed feelings that I must tell you this will be my last Cape Cod Notebook broadcast for a while.  Mixed feelings because I have greatly enjoyed doing these weekly programs over the past thirteen years. On the other hand, the reason for this leave is that I have recently been named a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2018. 

A Muskrat Encounter

Jun 19, 2018
Tom Koerner / USFWS / Creative Commons 2.0 / https://bit.ly/2JWwTJG

It was a beautiful afternoon in early June that I first explored the “Historical Society of Old Yarmouth Nature Trails.” These trails are located just behind the Yarmouth Port post office on Rt. 6A. At first glance it looks like a typical mid-Cape conservation area, encompassing some fifty acres of wooded uplands, wetlands, old pasture, and a small pond. But every place has its own individual character and its unique potential for unexpected encounters.

L. Lerner

 

It’s 5:30 in the afternoon at Newcomb Hollow Beach, and I am sitting on the sand directly in front of the parking lot so as to catch the last fifteen minutes of sun on the beach. The surf is regular and moderate, but only one paddle-boarder pushes leisurely out onto the surface of the sea between swells, stands up on his board, and then, as my granddaughter Coco puts it, he begins to “sweep the ocean.” 

Sounds From the Past

Jun 5, 2018
Harp Gallery / https://bit.ly/2JicmPm

I have a long and somewhat odd history with old phonographs and records.  During my early years on the Cape I once salvaged several old Enrico Caruso records - 12” in diameter and only recorded on one side – from an abandoned dune shack.  Over the years I also bought several dozen more old records from Ben Thatcher’s Sound Museum in East Dennis. I kept them all, though it was years before I had anything to play them on. 

Franco Folini / flickr / https://bit.ly/2xjRXIl / Amazon

The other day, crossing Uncle Tim’s Bridge, I saw a flock of fourteen yellowlegs feeding in the gray slurry of the mud flats of Duck Creek at low tide.  Greater and lesser yellowlegs are two of our most readily- identifiable local shorebirds. They are by far the largest of the sandpipers, with stilt-like bright yellow shanks that give them their common name. Their call is an unmistakable three-note descending whistle: CHOO-choo-choo, CHOO-choo-choo.

L. Lerner

The other evening I went for a walk on Bound Brook Island and was struck by it all – not just by what was there, but by what had passed, and what was yet to come. 

The Fallen Towhee

May 15, 2018
Steve Richey / unsplash

A strange thing happened Saturday afternoon. I had been cutting up some boards on the outside deck, when I noticed, lying on the saber saw, the body of a male towhee. I’d only turned away from the sawhorses for a minute or two and had heard no sound, and yet there it was, draped carefully over the metal casing of the saw, lying on its side, as if deliberately and carefully placed there by a cat, or a child - except there was no cat or child. 

A Snapper in the Rain

May 8, 2018
L. Lerner

This happened on the evening of our last rain storm, or what the old Cape Codders called a “tempest.” I’ve always liked that word, “tempest.” It goes back to Elizabethan times. Shakespeare used it as the title of his last play, in which the spirit Ariel says, “We are such things as dreams are made on.” Its root comes from tempus, the Latin word for time, and it connotes a great disturbance, one in which the doors between the present and the past might be suddenly flung open.

This is the brightest time of the year. That may seem like a counterintuitive statement, since spring on Cape Cod usually conjures up images of cloudy skies and rain showers. But on a sunny day in early May, if you can divest yourself of seasonal prejudices, the world can seem more bright than at any other time of the year.

Robert Finch

Last week I discussed a couple of recent examples of a forced or strategic retreat from our beaches due to accelerated erosion, namely the closing of the public parking lot at Wellfleet’s Cahoon Hollow Beach, and the closing of foot access to the beach at Eastham’s Nauset Light parking lot.

 

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.” 

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.

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