Category Archives: Cape Cod

Local Color

It’s the dead of winter here in the Outer Cape, and it’s been unusually cold and snowy. That doesn’t stop me from getting outside, though. Here are a few cell-phone shots from some recent walks around Wellfleet: First, our little wooded lane, after Tuesday’s snowstorm: Next, a few shots of Duck Harbor from about ten […]

Back On Top!

It’s Oysterfest weekend in Wellfleet once again, and your humble correspondent has reclaimed his crown at the annual Spelling Bee. I realize that by now most of you have likely already heard — I’m sure it’s all over the national media — but I thought the rest of you would like to know.

Cape Light

The psychologist and author Steven Pinker lives in Truro, here on the Outer Cape, and is a talented photographer. Here’s his most recent collection.

Edge Of The World

February is probably the quietest and loneliest month on the Outer Cape, but in many ways the deep winter is most beautiful time of year out here, I think. Here’s the high bluff at the end of Longnook Road, Truro, late yesterday afternoon.    

Waiting

It’s 2 a.m., and getting mighty windy here in Wellfleet as Sandy moves north. Everybody knows the power’s going out sooner or later. I know that the worst of this storm is going to be felt south and west of here, but my, that wind sure is howling, and at times like this it’s awfully […]

Wild Kingdom

It being a lovely day yesterday, I stopped by the harbor to take in the view. Here’s the vista from Mayo Beach: After a minute or so I noticed that there was some sort of large animal in distress just offshore. All I could see was a single dark flipper lifting out of the water […]

Taps

Rather a nice sunset just now over at Duck Harbor:

Small Town

Just stood in the checkout line at the Wellfleet general store with Noam Chomsky. We didn’t chat.

Wash-ashores

For the past month or so, common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) have been stranding themselves in record numbers on Wellfleet’s bay and harbor beaches. Here and here are some video clips from CNN. Wellfleet has always been a hotspot for this sort of thing; the clean cold waters of the harbor are full of good things […]

Snow!

First real snow of the season here in Wellfleet. Here are two views from chez Waka, taken earlier today (and about half a foot ago). Looking northwest, down the hill: Looking east, out the back door: I liked the way these tree-trunks along the lane looked in the grey light:

All Quiet On the Eastern Front

Not having much to say tonight, I thought I’d just put up a few pictures I snapped around Wellfleet yesterday and today. I apologize for the mediocre quality: I’d left my camera behind in New York this time around, and so they were taken with my phone. Yesterday I decided to explore the path leading […]

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

We have coyotes out here in the Wellfleet woods, though we hear them oftener than see them. They like to socialize on moonlit nights, and last night they had a pretty good jamboree going not far from our little hilltop. The sound of it isn’t exactly musical, to my ear at least, but you can […]

Mola Mola!

I stopped by Wellfleet Harbor shortly before sunset today to take in the view. Here’s the scene, looking southwest from the seawall at Kendrick Avenue (forgive the poor quality – I took these shots with the camera in my phone, which has a blurry lens): Wait a minute — what the hell is that thing […]

A Wellfleet Walk

It was an unusually mild November day here in the Outer Cape, and I went for a walk in Wellfleet’s Fox Island Marsh & Pilgrim Spring Woodlands Conservation Area, which I’d never explored. While it’s hardly the Bridger Wilderness, the conservation area offers a lovely trail through pine forests down to the salt marshes at […]

Ten

The Northeast has been enjoying a fantastic spell of weather lately. Here in the Outer Cape, today was simply perfect: low humidity, cloudless azure skies, warm sweet sunshine, and temperatures in the upper seventies, with a fragrant, balmy breeze as gentle as a baby’s breath. At Newcomb Hollow Beach, it felt more like August — […]

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

Well here we are again, almost exactly a year later, perched on our little hilltop way out on a sandy spit in the Atlantic, bracing ourselves for a hurricane. Last year’s offering, Earl, missed us to the east; this one is supposed to pass by a little way off to the west. It’s always a […]

Déjà View

We’re still up in Cape Cod, very busy the past few days with chores and domestic duties as we get ready to head back to Gotham. I’ve got nothing new to offer tonight, so I thought I’d repost an old item (something I don’t think I’ve ever done before): a favorite Wellfleet-themed entry from three […]

There Is A Tide

The Outer Cape in winter may be chilly, sparsely populated, and a little bleak (all of which suits me just fine), but one of the pleasures of being here in the cold months is the shell-fishing. In winter, when our highly prized oysters are at their peak of flavor and plumpness, the Wellfleet oyster-beds are […]

Change Of Fortune

Well, the shouting is over, the dust has settled, the press have dashed off to file their dispatches, and there is a new champion speller here in Wellfleet: a fellow named Robert something, an amiable fellow who has finished in the top two or three for years. It came down to the two of us […]

Festschrift

We’re in Wellfleet for the weekend. It’s time once again for the Oysterfest, our little town’s annual celebration of its succulent and highly prized indigenous bivalve. (A local oysterman told me today that the festival, which is in its tenth year, is now the fourth-largest town fair in the country, though as we go to […]

Earl And Troubled Waters

The Outer Cape is battening the hatches in anticipation of Hurricane Earl, which will be passing by here later today. We’re already getting bands of heavy rain, and the wind is picking up. The tide will be high as Earl approaches, and the heavy seas are expected to do a lot of damage to the […]

Nor’easter

We’re having quite a storm here on the Outer Cape tonight, with heavy rain, temperatures only in the upper 50′s, and 50-mph wind gusts. At dusk we went to Newcomb Hollow beach, where the Atlantic was foaming white halfway to the horizon, and the northeast wind was so fierce that I could hardly get the […]

Beach Day!

We’re off duty today, and so the lovely Nina and I took a long walk this afternoon on the beach at Maguire’s Landing (a.k.a. Lecounts Hollow) here in Wellfleet. It being December, we had the place all to ourselves. (Well, almost, as you’ll see below.) It was very beautiful. I took a few pictures, shortly […]

Picture Postcard

We’ve been off the air for a couple of days, having holed up in Wellfleet for a long weekend. The weekend after Columbus Day is when the town hosts its annual Oysterfest, a two-day celebration of our renowned local mollusc. As you can see from the schedule of events, there are concerts, lectures, exhibitions and […]

Ice Sculpture

We are in Wellfleet for the long weekend, and the Lower Cape seems particularly tranquil and beautiful under the blue winter skies. Yesterday the memsahib and I took a little spin up to Provincetown, at the outermost tip of the Cape, and along the way stopped at Longnook Beach in Truro to take a quick […]

Cape Cold

We are back in Wellfleet for the next few days, having driven up here after work yesterday. We arrived at about one a.m., under a startlingly brilliant full moon, with an icy wind shaking the pines and bare oaks.

A Little Light Reading

From my friend Jess Kaplan comes a little news item that doesn’t amount to much, really, in these tempestuous times, but which made a nice break from the customary media diet of catastrophe, vice, and woe. It’s about a little lost lighthouse.

How To Make Oysters

Now that you’ve joined me on a vigorous early-spring hike to Cape Cod Bay, it’s time to reward ourselves with a scrumptious local delicacy: some of our famous Wellfleet Oysters. Here’s how it’s done.

A Wellfleet Walk

Friday, March 21st, was the first full day of Spring, and here in the outer reaches of Cape Cod, it was more lion than lamb. The temperature hovered in the thirties, and all day a steady wind roared out of the West. But the sun was shining in a cloudless sky, and after weeks cooped […]

Service Notice

I normally spend at least ten hours a day at the computer; I’m taking a little break today. Back shortly.

Off Season

It’s ten p.m., and the memsahib and I have just got back to Brooklyn after spending a couple of days in the outer reaches of Cape Cod.

Into The Wild, And Out

Readers may be pleased to know that we did not in fact perish in this weekend’s storm, and are once again safely back in Gotham. I will say, though, that it was quite a ride: the winds did indeed perform as expected, knocking down many trees, and by Saturday afternoon had blacked out the entire […]

Sturm und Drang

As promised, the former Hurricane Noel is giving Cape Cod a virile rogering. The outer Cape — a narrow, longitudinal wisp of sand that comprises the picturesque villages of Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown — juts a long way out into the Atlantic, and is getting a far stiffer dose than points west. […]

Aw, Shucks

Today was the occasion of the 7th Annual Wellfleet OysterFest, and, as usual, folks came from all over to visit our charming seaside village, to browse the displays put up by our many artists and craftspeople, and, first and foremost, to gorge upon the succulent bivalves for which the town is justly famed. The beer […]

Opening Day

There’ll be nothing in this space today about dualism, Darwin, Iraq, religion, or any of the rest of the tedium that usually plumps up these pages. No, today was a day to set all that dull and dreary business aside, because the Incredible Casuals were kicking off their 27th season at the legendary Wellfleet Beachcomber. […]

Beats Working

Today was, like yesterday, a day to set aside introspection, brooding and contemplation; a day to live life rather than examine it.

Playing Hooky

We are back in Wellfleet today (having driven up from Gotham late last night), and it would be hard to imagine more clement surroundings. It is still too early in the season for there to be many people here on the outer Cape, and for those who had the good sense to be here, today […]

Pinker on the Outer Cape

One of the leading thinkers and writers on the subjects that interest me most — the human mind, the evolution of life, and the connection between the two — is Harvard’s Steven Pinker. His books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, and The Blank Slate are all outstanding, and should be read by anyone who shares my fascination with these complex and enormously important areas if inquiry. What I didn’t know, though, was that he is also both a marvelous photographer and a habitué of Cape Cod’s outer extremities. I have just stumbled upon a collection of his photographs of the waters, skies, beaches and wildlife of Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet, and they are simply stupendous.

Pinker’s Cape images are gathered into two galleries, here and here, and the main page for all of his photography is here. Please do take a look; you won’t be disappointed. You will also get an idea of why I love this unique place so.

Endurance

Well, as far as survival in the polar regions is concerned I don’t think I’m about to knock Shackleton off his perch anytime soon, but I must say that after the weeks of frigid weather we’ve had, gleaning four dozen oysters from Wellfleet harbor this morning was far from the usual carefree splash in the bay. Indian Neck Beach today looked more like the Weddell Sea than the clement shores of Cape Cod, and I was on the lookout for leopard seals throughout. Fuzzy cell-phone pictures below.

Turn of the Tide

I’ve mentioned oysters before in these pages (I should probably give posts about them a separate category by now), but while scooping a few dozen of them out of Wellfleet Harbor this weekend, I noticed something about them that I hadn’t realized before, which is that they seem to exhibit a consistent chirality.

Rest Area

I’m back in Cape Cod this weekend, and as always it is restorative to be here. The effect is rather like pulling off at a scenic overlook during a long motor journey to stretch the legs, breathe deeply, and take one’s eyes off the road.

Living and working, as I do, in New York City, is to spend each day in a hyperkinetic environment of entirely human manufacture, wrought at an exclusively human scale. But here in Wellfleet, on this tiny spit of land flung into the restless Atlantic, one finds oneself in the presence of physical immensities that offer the tightly clenched spirit room to unfurl. To step outside, as I did last night, to stand in silence under a moonlit sky, pine-framed and ablaze with stars, and then to stroll this afternoon along a deserted beach beside the limitless ocean — a scene entirely devoid, in chill November, of even the slightest trace of Man’s teeming presence — is to enjoy a trans-physical unconfinement, a lebensraum of the soul, that many denizens of the congested antheaps we call cities no longer realize we require for our normal development.

Ai! Cabomba

As readers will recall, this past weekend was the occasion of Wellfleet’s annual Oysterfest. It was a splendid event, as always. The weather was just beautiful – cool and crisp, with a deep blue sky and golden autumnal sunshine, and thousands of visitors were on hand, drawn to our charming seacoast village by the promise of happy company, good food, rivers of beer, amusing special events, local arts & crafts, and of course a limitless supply of sweet and succulent Wellfleet oysters, served up in every imaginable configuration.

One of the events on the crowded agenda was a spelling bee, which your humble correspondent was persuaded to enter. Though I am, if it doesn’t seem unduly immodest to say so, a damned fine speller, I did not prevail. After several rounds I found myself presented with a noun I had never heard of: a widely distributed aquatic plant known as the cabomba. I had no choice but to take a guess, and offered C-A-B-A-M-B-A (with the voice of the departed Ritchie Valens ringing in my ears), and that was it for me.

What was the winning word? I’m sorry to say I don’t remember. There were several that were served up right at the end; I recall the eventual winner, a literate young woman, grappling with foraminifer, eutrophication, and minuscule, but I can’t remember which was the final hurdle, if it was in fact any of those. I imagine I was still swooning in stunned disbelief.

The first prize was a copy of Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, which would have made a lovely addition to my library (I already have a copy of his excellent history of the codfish).

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Cabomba.

My Lucky Day

Today is Friday the 13th, always a good day for me, as I was born on one, back in 1956. And this year is no exception; my lovely wife Nina and I are back in Wellfleet this weekend, and as always it is balm to the spirit to be here. And as if the cool sea breezes, lovely autumnal light, and serene natural beauty of this New England coastal village weren’t enough, tomorrow is the 2006 Wellfleet Oysterfest, a gustatory extravaganza that draws lovers of our renowned and eponymous mollusc from all over the Northeast. Expect another favorable review.

Surf’s Up

It was a damp and blustery day in Wellfleet yesterday, as the low-pressure system dubbed Ernesto passed to our west. With high pressure to the east, the resulting gradient made for strong winds blowing in from the Atlantic onto the Cape Cod backshore. I dropped by the beach at Newcomb Hollow with my trusty Sony Cybershot, and snapped the image below:

click for hi-res version
the elements rage

But a still picture really doesn’t do it justice. As it happens my little camera will take movies as well, so if you’d like to, you can download brief clip – complete with poorly recorded audio – here. (Best to right-click the link and choose “Save Target As”, then save and run the file on your machine.)

Shell Game

Today, having returned to Wellfleet from Brooklyn late last evening, I arose early and made my way to Indian Neck Beach, which forms the eastern shore of Wellfleet Harbor. My arrival coincided, not accidentally, with the lowest extremity of the tide, and as I expected I found the legendary oyster beds fully exposed, beckoning as winsomely as Goya’s Maja.

Blue Horizon

There are places here and there that are noted by painters and photographers for the special quality of their light. Southern France is one; van Gogh made some of his most beautiful paintings in and around Arles. St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!) is another, and so, as it happens, is the far end of Cape Cod.

Far East

I’m in Wellfleet, Massachussets this weekend, with my wife and son. Wellfleet is a picturesque fishing village on the narrow end of Cape Cod, and is a very popular spot in the summertime. In the winter, though, it is almost deserted. The beaches are empty, the restaurants are closed, the beautiful freshwater ponds are rimmed with ice, and the low forests of scrub oak are forlorn and leafless. The pleasure boats that usually dot the beautiful harbor are gone, and the whale-watch crews have relocated to Baja for the season.