Poet's blog

Dusk Befalls Bass River

Photos by Jonathan Mayo

Having recently purchased a home in West Yarmouth I occasionally feel homesick for my old neighborhood in Bass River. Last night around sunset the urge overcame me and I set out for  a dusk walk at Indian Lands.


As I walked high above the river I  heard the rustle of enormous wings as a Great Blue Heron took off from the shore. He/she then perched atop a dock piling in the waning light, like a gray ghost.

At the railroad bridge, cormorants lined up on the wires, illuminated by the emerging moon.

Route 6 traffic blurs by as river waters swirl.

Bittersweet vine reaches for the fading light.

Looking west,

At water's edge, towards Yarmouth

A beacon blazes southward, towards Highbank.

Carpe Diem!

DCR, Volunteers Prune Rail Trail

Cutting back the growth for safety, visibility.

By Jonathan Mayo

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is one of our region's greatest attractions. Graced with a broad user base and idyllic surroundings the trail is enjoyed by many. But the need for regular maintenance comes to the forefront in these "growing months".

    Rail Trail maintenance is handled by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, DCR. Unfortunately though, no regular budget exists for Rail Rail maintenance. Large projects are funded through additional state funds but smaller-scale maintenance, such as pruning, leaf cleanup and mowing are done with hard-fought general funds, and cannot be guaranteed. 

      These challenges have been at the forefront of discussions at the Friends of Cape Cod Rail Trail, Inc..,   a new non-profit whose members, myself included look at issues of safety, maintenance and ease of use. We consult directly with DCR and hope to assist them in any way possible. Recently the need for pruning along the trail has been apparent and some volunteers have attacked some sections.

     DCR's Eric Levy hand pruned from Route 137 to Millstone Rd. DCR maintenance veteran Larry Rogers, (below) has been working towards mile 4. 

Here we see Larry Rogers trimming back the growth near mile 4.8.


 Volunteer efforts have been formidable as well. Today, Brewster's Jack Clarke cut some offending branches. Some unsung hero cut back the first mile in recent weeks. This morning I set out on a pruning mission and made some progress.

 Many of the guardrails along the trail have been overcome with vegetation.

Some hand pruners and Sunday morning coffee...

Near mile 2.2  -before



If you would like to volunteer in this continuing effort, contact me at the link in my profile.

Carpe Diem!

Turkey Time in Brewster

Mama Leads Babies, "Poults" in Foraging

Photos by Jonathan Mayo

We spotted this beautiful scene in Brewster Memorial Cemetery as a  mother turkey led her ten "poults" through  a foraging session. It was refreshing to catch nature in action just steps from the Cape Cod Rail Trail. 



Carpe Diem!

Shorebirds, Surf and Sky at Yarmouth's Seagull Beach.

By Jonathan Mayo


Having just purchased  a home in West Yarmouth I have come to better appreciate the charms of Seagull Beach. A quick jaunt from our new home, the location offers a stunning view of shorebirds, surf and sky. In that spirit I'd like to share some recent photos. 

Shorebirds Abound


Piping Plover


White Heron


A bird of a different feather ascends above Seagull Beach

Evening Skies



Carpe Diem!

A glimpse of Cape Cod, July 1956.

By Jonathan Mayo

I recently rediscovered two Cape Cod Standard Times from July 1956. Though browning and missing edges, some of the ads and articles are well worth sharing. This is phase 1 in a short series featuring this content. Take a trip back in time!

Rail Trail Extension-Bad Neighbors

By Jonathan Mayo

    Cape Cod Rail Trail enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to as phase one of Rail Trail extension will move ahead soon. But as noted in past stories, many neighbors along the old rail line have disregarded property lines, even dumping junk and construction debris on the old tracks.

     In an area behind Shorey Construction on White's Path in South Yarmouth excavators cut in a new road parallel to the old tracks, and resulting dirt and debris was then pushed onto the rail line.

It's important to note that rail property lines extend at least 10 feet to the left of these tracks, and quite possibly much further.  Below you can see the assessor's map, which shows an approximate 100 foot wide rail corridor. The red dot in the upper right shows the apparently encroached area.

A  recent Google Earth view shows the perspective from above. The rails, mostly obscured by trees are visible to the right, where arrows begin. Other arrows indicate the edge of the northernmost rail. The arrow on the far left shows the apparent encroachment/buried rails.

    Yarmouth DPW Director George Allaire has confirmed in the past that numerous encroachments  exist along the old line. One of the biggest challenges for this project will be to encourage neighborhood cooperation, even from the many businesses that will skirt the trail along White's Path, Old Town House Rd. and other areas along the extension.

    Such establishments should respect the railway property lines and act as partners through this important public-interest project.

YFD Douses S. Yarmouth House Fire

By Jonathan Mayo

   Yarmouth Fire Department responded quickly to a small fire in the electric meter of a home on Putting Green Circle in South Yarmouth Thursday morning around 10:25. The blaze was put down quickly. It is unknown whether any injuries occurred as a result of this incident. The Fire Department had to deal with driving winds, rain and snow. We applaud their dedication and quick response.

The photo quality would be better if not for unsavory conditions. :) Good job, guys!


Trees Cleared from Rail Trail- More Work Due at Nickerson

Conditions fair on trail- Nickerson partially closed.

By Jonathan Mayo

    With snow melting and temperatures tolerable  I decided to survey the winter damage on the Cape Cod Rail Trail Tuesday, ending my ride at Nickerson State Park as I so often do. Seeing the trailhead at 134, (right), one might be tempted to skip the ride, but the trail is clear after a tenth of a mile and only a few small patches of snow thwart the rest of the  ride.                                                                   I fully expected to find fallen trees along the trail but DCR has already been hard at work clearing the trail. DCR used a small off-road utility vehicle to carry a small crew and equipment. I noticed that the tire tracks were much narrower than a standard vehicle, which allowed them to cross roads without moving barriers and actually fit through the tunnels on the trail. I applaud the DCR's intelligent and apparently economical approach to the trail damage. At over a dozen sites in the first ten miles, trees were cleared from the path.



Nickerson State Park, Winter Damage.

The Park is partially closed due to storm damage. Access beyond Flax Pond Rd'. is prohibited.

The walking trails at Nickerson saw some damage. Here is the Deer Park Trail.


Here we see Area 4 campgrounds. I was hoping to reserve that yurt, but the whole season is booked already!

Despite the damage, hope springs eternal. DCR has added some brand new picnic tables for our  future enjoyment.


          If you decide to venture out on the trail, be aware that there is still great deal of small debris, sticks, twigs and such. The current conditions therefore favor mountain bikes and hybrids.

Thanks for visiting capecodtoday.

Carpe Diem!

Mute Swans Can't Talk, so they Flock!

Fowl Play on Bass River

By Jonathan Mayo

I can't say I had ever seen more than two or three swans together at one time, but this group of mute swans on Bass River is 12-strong, and seem intent on staying on Bass River for the winter.

They have been enjoying the relative tranquility of several inlets in the area of Indian Lands.

The inner marshes at Indian Lands still bear winter's burdens, albeit pleasing to the eye.


It's worth noting that hikers and dog-walkers have not been thwarted in the least by the slippery paths at Indian Lands and elsewhere. It seems that Cape Codders are a hearty bunch, and love for outdoors/cabin fever makes all such challenges surmountable. In that spirit, I traversed Flax Pond recently, where receding ice sheets created a beautiful scene. Below we see Thirwood Place from across Flax Pond.


 Another view...


I'll leave you with a  few more scenes from Bass River...


Carpe Diem! 

Rail Trail Extension-Exciting Plans for Phase 2

CCRT will reach Exit 6 under the plans.

By Jonathan Mayo

    Citizens packed the meeting room at Yarmouth Police headquarters Thursday night to hear plans for Phase 2 of Cape Cod Rail Trail expansion. This portion of the project would bring the trail from Old Townhouse Park in Yarmouth all the way to Exit 6 in Barnstable.
    Yarmouth DPW Director George Allaire, below right, enthusiastically hosted the event, with specific plans presented by Project Manager Joe Magni of VHB, Inc. The Cape Cod Commission was represented by Andrea Adams.
    Mr. Magni outlined four major goals for the project. It is intended to be “adaptable for all uses”, from pedestrians, to cyclists, to in-line skaters. It is to adhere to the most recent design standards. It will also be ADA and AAB compliant. Magni also touted the goal of connectivity, that the new trails should link to important services and attractions.
   The new trail would begin at existing paths on Forest Rd. in Yarmouth, which currently terminate at Higgins-Crowell Rd. From Higgins-Crowell the new path will cross Willow St. and Route 6, winding through Fish and Wildlife properties, (Hyannis Woods Conservation), and landing alongside Mary Dunn Rd. It would then parallel South Flintlock, Breed’s Hill Rd., and Independence Drive. The path then winds along Kidd’s Hill Rd., crossing Phinney’s Lane, running just South of Route 6 towards exit 6. It will end near exit 6 at the Hyannis Golf Club. The following maps show the Route from Exit 6, East to Yarmouth.

   There are some interesting features to the new plans. There will be trailheads at Station Ave, Bayberry Golf Course, Mary Dunn Rd. and Route 132. Parking lots are planned for Higgins-Crowell Rd., Mary Dunn Rd. and elsewhere. Certain crossings will feature push-button signal changing for safety.

   Joe Magni described the design as having a “much different character” than existing trails. He likened it to the Madaket trails on Nantucket, being “more rural”. Certain areas will feature substantial grades given the native topography, but planners are attempting to minimize those strains where possible. The maximum grade will be 5%. Also, rest stops will be strategically placed to address the more difficult portions. Pedestrian bridges will assure safety at the busiest crossings. These will feature 345 foot approaches and departures. 
Costs for the extension are estimated at $11 Million, and construction could occur in two or three-phases, depending on DOT recommendations. Completion could take as long as 6 years.
Judging from the enthusiasm of the participants in last night's meeting, we can anticipate an exciting ride in the future. But Joe Magni cautioned that “this is just a line on paper”, and “there’s a long way to go…”
   Legislative support for this project came from State Senator Dan Wolf. We applaud this support, as the project is as important as it is challenging. We look forward to expanded connectivity from community to community.