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 ten books of essays, the latest of which is "The Outer Beach: A Thousand-Mile Walk on Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore," published by W.W. Norton.

A Cape Cod Notebook won the 2006 and 2013 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.


 A Cape Cod Notebook is made possible in part with support from Titcomb’s Bookshop on Route 6A in East Sandwich.

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.

Putneypics goo.gl/kL6JlL / goo.gl/uk4xos

A walk through Beebe Woods leads Robert Finch down to the beach looking west across Buzzard's Bay and prompts today's Cape Cod Notebook.

Wellfleet Historical Society

Explaining nature to children is different from speaking to adults about science.  In this Cape Cod Notebook, Robert Finch remembers showing school children a herring run, and laments the restraint that now overlays so much of our experience of science.

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