A Cape Cod Notebook

by Robert Finch

A Cape Cod Notebook can be heard every Tuesday morning at 8:45am 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

CPinoB / pixabay.com

This is the waiting time, the in-between time, when the advancing sun tells us that the back of this endless winter is broken, but the concrete signs of spring are still far and wee: a few ghost-like calls of clustered peepers in the bogs; the sole cardinal or a Carolina wren’s strident song, the first scattered flashes of daffodil sprouts on a still-sere hillside.

captpaulge / http://captpaulge.wix.com/paul-donovan-photography / wunderground.com

Many of you have no doubt seen the dramatic photos, recently posted online, of large chunks of ice that washed up on the shores if Cape Cod Bay in Wellfleet a couple of weeks ago.

http://www.whoi.edu/image-of-day/old-layers-new-insights

By now, the idea of the Cape’s glacial origins has pretty much fixed itself in the minds of most residents and visitors alike. But before Louis Agassiz put forward his revolutionary glacial theories in the mid-1800s, the idea of a continental ice sheet seemed as improbable to the general public as the continental drift theory did to their mid-20th century counterparts.

If I asked you to guess what is the most abundant bird on Cape Cod and the Islands this time of the year, which would you choose: The chickadee? Herring gull? Crow? Black Duck? Starling? House sparrow?

Alan Vernon / flickr

I stood there on the beach, looking at the loon that was in obvious distress, hobbled and contorted by monofilament netting wrapped around its body.  I was miles from the mainland. What should I do? What could I do?

Don Faulkner / www.carolinabirdclub.org

It was during this month several years ago that I experienced what I still consider one of my finest moments here on Cape Cod. One February day in the first year of the new millennium, I took a walk along Chatham's South Beach at the elbow of the Cape’s crooked arm. This was the first time I had walked this beach since it had connected to the Chatham mainland at the base of the lighthouse about five years before.

Andrij Bulba / flcc

During the winter of 1962, when I was nineteen, I lived in Provincetown, where I worked as a reporter for The New Beacon, a small local weekly newspaper. It was during late October of that year, when the Cuban Missile Crisis raised its apocalyptic head, that I first became aware of the now-defunct North Truro Air Force Base. At that time the base was an active part of the DEWLINE system, one of 23 Distant Early Warning radar stations established by the Department of Defense at the beginning of the Cold War.

Joel Dinda / flickr

A dry cold day in mid-January. 23 degrees at 11 a.m. The weather satellite photo shows a circular mass of frozen precipitation filling the bowl of Cape Cod Bay and spilling over its rim. All morning sea snow has been falling, blowing and swirling over the cracked and warped surface of the deck outside my study. It looks like something organic, something alive – but not quite.        

https://midnightgarden12.wordpress.com

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. We tend to ask what is this, but not why this now?

Becky Dalzell

If there’s anything than interests me more than local history, it's unrecorded local history – that is, events, stories, characters and places that live only in the memories of long-time residents – and sometimes not even there, sometimes only in the shapes of certain landscapes, or in the presence of mute but evocative objects that require the beholder to shape and piece together a tentative narrative about their history.

Pages