A Cape Cod Notebook Archives

Robert Finchby Robert Finch



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December 2009

Feeding the birds

Growth Patterns

Beached whale memories

Holiday community theater

 First Contacts

November 2009

The 1858 Map

Indian Summer Leaves

Flounder Fishing in Nauset Harbor

October 2009

 White Crest Beach

A Whale Skull

The J-Stroke

September 2009

First Contact

An Unpeopled Sky

Beetlebungs, or, what's in a name?

Shelter on the Beach

Swimming the Ponds - IV

August 2009

Swimming the Ponds - III

Swimming the Ponds - II

Swimming the Ponds - I

July 2009

  Family Fun

  Musk Turtle

  A Galling Experience

  When Whippoorwill Calls IV

June 2009

  When Whippoorwill Calls III

  When Whippoorwill Calls II

  When Whipperwillcalls I

Listen A Gratuity

  June Bugs in the Dunes

May 2009

  Signs on the Beach

  Emergence of Spring Life

Listen A Child's Trees

April 2009

  Spring Thunder Anatomized

  Spring Thunder

  Death in the Open

  A Calm Day on the Bay

March 2009

  My Favorite Trip in the World

  Ethel vs. the Met

  In Old Hunting Camp

  Lilliputian Pioneers

  An Old Friend Visits

February 2009

  The Silence of the Ice

  Dancing With My Shadow

January 2009

  Rooting for Oysters

  Group Singing

  Oaks versus Pines

  Familiar Shapes on the Marsh

August 2008

Listen Returning to the Land

Listen Naming the Land

July 2008

Listen Secret Summer Clamming

Listen Birds on the Pond

Listen Herring Fry on the Pond

Listen Outer Beach Overnights

Listen Spiders in My House

June 2008

Listen Millennium Grove II

Listen Millennium Grove I

Listen My First Whale

Listen In the Social Security Building

May 2008

Listen God's Acre

Listen Up a Tree

Listen Thoughts on a Mourning Dove's Nest

April 2008

Listen Mountain Wind

Listen On the Power Lines II

Listen Sea Dawn

Listen The Voice of Herring River

Listen The Overlapping Layers of History

March 2008

listenThe Permanence of Change

listenThe Stink of Spring

listenBeach Ball

listenPresidential Primaries and Primary Feathers

February 2008

listenA Mystery Wrapped in a Conundrum

listenNight Tracks

listenA Minor Loss

January 2008

listenMoving a Beach Cottage

listenThe Elepant Field

listenOn a Winter Beach

listenAn Ordinary Woodland

listenNauset Spit on New Year's Day

December 2007

listen A Local Gathering Place
Usually I go out on the flats alone, or at most with one or two companions. Frequently I meet friends out there whom I've not seen in months. We smile and say, "Small world," but it's not, really.

listen Thinning the Woods
Almost immediately, I found myself the victim of competing claims. For instance, some of the most obvious candidates for cutting were also some of the most visually interesting trees.

listen Beach Foam
Rivers of sand twisted down the banking, leaping up over the more resistant outcrops of clay and splaying out at the bottom in wide deltas.

listen Wind Music
At times it seemed like ghost dancers were skipping across its surface; at others, the channeled wind moved swiftly like giant hands and fingers playing upon some kind of watery instrument.

November 2007

listen The Secret of Life
In November, the abandoned nests have not yet been torn to pieces by winter storms. They emerge to our sight in the crotches of trees like old hairy coconuts, or else dangle from the stripped branches like small dance purses carelessly flung up into some tree after the party was over.

listen Reflections at Dusk
The sun has just set clear, and the myriad interlaced branches of the oaks grow first dark, then black against the dying light.

listen Fire Bugs
The frequent and periodic fires that swept our woods during the early decades of the past century stemmed partly from the highly resinous wood of the pitch pine, the dry scrubby undergrowth, the lack of modern fire-fighting equipment, and the absence of roads over which to reach most inland blazes.

October 2007

listen Old School Pictures
These old pictures grabbed me so, I could not account for it. It was not just the quaintness of dress and the radically different landscape.

listen On the Tidal Flats
No transcript available at this time.

listen Seeing Nature
We remember the fates of many national parks and the foot-trampled summits of popular mountains, and we realize that our dunes and tern colonies and herring runs are even more vulnerable to affection in great numbers.

listen Wood Ducks in a Tree
I felt that wood ducks should not be walking around in the real world at all, but set upon some golden bough in a glass museum display case, "in a life-like attitude."

listen Shorebirds in the Fens
I watched him take his lunch as I took mine, and shortly he was joined by a flock of 70 or 80 small, red-backed sandpipers, known as dunlins, that whirled in from the left and took center stage.

September 2007

listen Going to Seed
The unpicked pole beans have turned to long, wrinkled, paper-pale pods that yield hundreds of smooth, shiny, dimpled, coffee-brown beans, more than enough for next year's planting.

listen Crab Charity
At first I thought I'd encountered one of the last practitioners of the Cape Codders' fabled reticence, but suddenly he swooped his net down into the murky waters and came up with a small, struggling blue crab about four inches wide.

listen A Labor Day Fatality
The fierceness of its face had a stunned quality to it, as if it had not been defeated but somehow tricked, or cheated of a life.

listen Two Oaks
Although we tout ourselves for our consummate brains, most of our vital functions - breathing, blood circulation, energy production, waste disposal - still take place, like a tree's, involuntarily and unconsciously.

August 2007

listen Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are justly celebrated as physiological marvels, for their iridescent, jewel-like colors; for their ability to hover and fly backwards, even upside down, as if equipped with personal jetpacks.

listen Summer Doldrums
The sea lavender and the shorebirds remind me that nature's summer ends before ours does. They tell me that even when my world seems to have comes to a soggy halt, others are already in motion.

listen Bill Lazuras
Over against the wooded eastern shore, I see Bill Lazarus's small outboard. It's painted sky-blue, the blue of the old Cape Cod wagons, and Bill is sitting in its stern, trolling among the rocks as he has for over forty years.

July 2007

listen Educating Cabbage Worms
There are sprays for cabbage-worms, of course, and I confess I've occasionally resorted to a bacterial insecticide. But more often I employ a control method I learned from a friend of mine: he educates them.

listen Thunderstorm
I grew up in the Midwest, the land of violent thunderstorms, and I miss the air-shattering, bone-jarring cloudbursts that frequently punctuated our muggy summer days.

listen Ant War
One peaceful, sunny morning earlier this month, I stepped out of the front door and into the middle of a violent war.

listen Leaping Spider
Last night I was sitting on the couch in the living room when I noticed a small spider crawling up the sleeve of my cotton shirt.

June 2007

listen Lost Pond
There's a pond I know - let's call it Lost Pond- that's never crowded, not even on the hottest summer weekends.

listen Mimosa
A favorite tree.

listen An Amoral Bird
Birds inevitably call up human history and, more problematically, human morals.

listen The Primal Place
This week, I hope that regular ers to A Cape Cod Notebook will indulge me if I say a few words about a very gratifying recent event.

May 2007

listen Killdeer at the Mall
Ordinarily, a shopping center is not the place I go to see shorebirds-or any birds, for that matter.

listen Of Marriages and Gardens
Most gardens, like most marriages, are begun in innocence.

listen Under the Night Sky
One of the great pleasures of late spring and early summer is to sleep outside under the stars.

listenHerring Rights Article
I read with some regret this past week that the Brewster Selectmen plan to discontinue putting the "herring rights" article on future annual town meeting warrants.

April 2007

listen Where do we find ourselves?
One of the occupational hazards of living in a place like Cape Cod is that we don't always know where we are.

listenTown Landings
No transcript available at this time.

listenSpring Peepers
No transcript available at this time.

March 2007

listen The Promise of Spring
Today, at noon, I sit outside my house eating lunch on the soaked grass, in the suns and winds of March.