A Cape Cod Notebook

by Robert Finch

A Cape Cod Notebook can be heard every Tuesday morning at 8:35am and afternoon at 5:45pm.

A nature writer living in Wellfleet, Robert Finch has written about Cape Cod for more than forty years. He is the author of seven collections of essays, most recently a collection of his radio scripts, published by On Cape Publications. He is co-editor of "The Norton Book of Nature Writing."

A Cape Cod Notebook won the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing.

For archives of A Cape Cod Notebook, including programs dating from before November 2012, go to the Cape Cod Notebook Archives

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Cape Cod Notebook
5:41 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Booms, Cracks, and Claps: Listening to the Language of Thunder

Credit joefutrelle / flickr

One night last week a dramatic summer thunderstorm passed over the Outer Cape. It wasn’t a violent storm – not like the giant one that spawned tornados and ravaged the western part of the state several summers ago, but even an “ordinary thunderstorm” – if I can use that phrase – is fascinating.

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Cape Cod Notebook
5:43 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

A Freshwater Swimmer, Surrounded by Ocean

Credit m01229 / flickr

For one who’s lived within a few miles of the bay and ocean beaches for more than forty years, I’ve spent very little time swimming in salt water. Given the choice, I will almost always opt to go into a freshwater pond.

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Cape Cod Notebook
8:40 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Not Your Everyday Encounter: Meeting a Coyote Among the Wild Blueberries

Credit Renée Johnson / flickr

This is the peak week for wild blueberries on our part of the Cape. So after lunch my dog Sam and I head to the open, bearberry-and –crowberry-covered hills of Bound Brook Island Once we emerge from the woods and out onto the open ridge overlooking Cape Cod Bay, thick blueberries line both sides of the path. There seem to be three distinct types of berries here: one is a true low-bush variety that hugs the ground. It has small light green leaves about 1 inch long, with finely serrated edges and produces large, dusty-blue fruit, averaging a quarter inch or more in diameter.

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A Cape Cod Notebook
2:34 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Life's Drama Played Out in a Sink Bowl

Credit narusaku19 / deviantART

One evening, as I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom sink, I noticed a small spider in the bowl.  It was dark-purplish in color, with an extended abdomen ending in a dark-orange tip. It appeared to be one of those “jumping spiders” I have seen from time to time in our house. Jumping spiders, as their name suggests, leap on their prey rather than catching them in webs, but they attach a silk thread before they jump so that they can haul themselves back in if they miss.

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A Cape Cod Notebook
1:58 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Finding that Vacation Rhythm is a Matter of Time

Credit 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.

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A Cape Cod Notebook
3:11 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

June Brings Many Ritual Returns to the Beach

Credit 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.

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Cape Cod Notebook
8:36 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Pull Up a Chair: Savoring an Interlude of Well-Seasoned Bonhomie

Credit Luis Urquiza / flickr

A few weeks ago, on my way to chorale rehearsal, I decided to stop for a bowl of chowder at a restaurant on Rt. 28. The chowder was forgettable, but the bar was obviously a local hangout for men and women of retirement age. There were perhaps a dozen or so “regulars” there, mostly in their 70s and 80s, with a couple of younger wives in their 50s and 60s. The men all wore suits and the women dresses.

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Cape Cod Notebook
8:42 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Looking at the Sea Without Curiosity or Ambition

Newcomb Hollow Beach
Credit Joan Sol / flickr

Last Thursday evening about six, at the end of a long and somewhat wearying day, I drove out to Newcomb Hollow and sat on the wooden bench there, looking out to sea. Despite the beautiful, clear, evening light, there was only one other person there, a fisherman way up the beach to my left.

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Cape Cod Notebook
5:39 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

House Sitting Gives a Fresh Perspective on Sea and Land

Credit Eltjo Poort / flickr

For the past several weeks I’ve been house-sitting for a friend while he is in Central America. The house is on a high bluff overlooking Little Pleasant Bay in South Orleans. Coming here has had the feeling of coming home, since the house is near the spot where I spent my first summer on Cape Cod over fifty years ago.

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A Cape Cod Notebook
10:33 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Nameless Beaches a Lasting Signature of Cape Cod

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region / flickr

Few things on the Outer Beach last long enough to acquire a name. Unlike, say, the coast of Maine,the sea here tends to quickly erase all physical evidence of specific sites and events. As a result the number of names associated with the Cape’s Atlantic shoreline is relatively few. There are perhaps a dozen or so large natural features on the Outer Beach that have acquired familiar and accepted names.

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