Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, April 16, 2007

Old Cape Cod

Sagamore Bridge - Gateway to Cape Cod

I’m blogging from Massachusetts today. I’m here for my Dad’s 75th birthday celebration. The weather is bad today. We’re having a cold, sleety rain. Yesterday was a beautiful day, however, and Leon and I journeyed to Cape Cod.

Cape Cod is someplace that I love and that has been part of me for my entire life. I was born there, and moved up north of Boston when I was about 6 months old. This was part of my regular stomping grounds when I was growing up.

The Old Grist Mill

It was cloudy as we started down to the Cape, but the sun came out just after we crossed the canal. We had lunch at an old grist mill. The mill stream is a spawning run for herring, also called alewives. People used to fishe for them here, but that’s no longer permitted.

A great disappointment. I was planning on practicing my herring pickup lines. "Hey, baby you look real smart. Spend a lot of time in school?"

After lunch we went off to the outer Cape for a hike near Marconi Beach. There’s a beautifu hike that leads through bear oak/pitch pine scrub on to a swamp of Atlantic White Cedar. The walk leads across the swamp on an amazing boardwak, through land that looks like it could have come out of Louisiana. Other unusual plants that we saw on the forest floor included trailing arbutus and pipsissewa. I had hoped that the arbutus would be in bloom but, alas, it was only in bud.

Pitch Pine and Bear Oak

Atlantic White Cedar Swamp

Trailing Arbutus

Common Pipsissewa

Marconi Beach is so named because it is the site of G. Marconi’s first transatlantic radio broadcast in 1903. Some of the remains from the transmitter site are still present there, and we photographed Leon holding his cell phone while sitting on the footings of the old transmission tower.

Dune heath above Marconi Beach

Leon with both ends of the ...um...lack of a wire

Our late afternoon talk was at Great Island, on the bay side of the Cape. The walk takes you through scrub woodland, salt marsh, and beach. The beach was littered with skate egg cases. I’ve found and opened thousands of the in my lifetime. This was the first one that I’ve ever found a skate embryo in. When I first opened it, pink ooze came out. I thought that it was just decaying contents, but it was actually the yolk sac of a well-formed skate embryo.

Skate Embryo

Fiddler Crab

Our walk ended with the late afternoon light slanting off of the dunes. A great day.



At 10:46, Blogger robin andrea said...

What a nice hike around Marconi Beach. Good thing you had one day of fair weather. I guess the storm is pretty bad there. Hope your dad has a grand birthday celebration.

At 11:23, Anonymous Mark said...

What a fabulous place! It has always been just a romantic name to me until now....I'd pictured it a bit different, thinking the climate would be much like here with rain forests around...NO, looks much hardier....tougher winters, eh? Thanks for the writeup talking us along on your hike.

At 16:20, Anonymous Lemuel said...

So we're having the nor'easter in your honor! - to make you feel right at home

At 17:40, Blogger rodger said...

Beautiful photos! Cape Cod is still on my list of places to visit and now I may have to put a bit more effort into making that happen.

Happy Birthday greeting to the senior Mr. Taron.

At 22:10, Blogger Ur-spo said...

lovely photos as always Douglas.

At 07:54, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Mark- Parts of the Cape are more lush than what you see here. The thing that keeps the vegetation sparse and stunted is not the cold winters, but lack of water. The part of the peninsula near Marconi Beach is nearly pure sand. The Cedar Swamp is in a place where water collects because of a clay layer under the surface.

Lemuel- And I appreciated the noreaster. It now has its own post.


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