Poet's blog

Close Call at Flax Pond-Tree barely misses building, recent vehicular vandalism.

By Jonathan Mayo

It was a close call at Flax Pond when a falling tree missed the new building by inches. Access to the area has been somewhat limited, with trees down on Dupont Ave. 

In other news, individual(s) have been causing damage at Flax Pond in recent weeks, driving out of bounds and scarring ball fields and grounds. The Yarmouth Police are investigating this vandalism, so please keep an eye out.

On a more positive note, I managed to catch this hawk as it scanned for prey over the cedar swamps near Flax Pond.

The Many Moods of Bass River

Sights from late January

By Jonathan Mayo

Bass River is wonderful this time of year. I visit the old railroad bridge regularly and the view changes from day to day. Though the bridge is now gone, the abutment remains, and it will someday serve as the platform for a new bridge, to carry bicyclists and pedestrians across Bass River when the Cape Cod Rail Trail extension is complete. Though I and many are somewhat leary of the potential impact on local tranquility, the idea of direct Rail Trail access from Yarmouth is appealing. Preliminary work on the trail may start this spring.

 The recent snow provided a captivating view.

Though we were glad to see it melt, the thin blanket of snow we experienced at least made it feel like winter on Cape Cod.

The deep fog of last Thursday heralded the arrival of warmer air and the river took on a ghostly appearance. Contrasting the two views, only days apart, gives a sense as this transition.











To the right you see the view heading East towards exit 9. It's remarkable to see the natural beauty that skirts our signature highway. It's a testament to the determination of our forefathers, as this highway accompanied an unusual spirit of conservation, seen in the establishment of the National Seashore.

It's also interesting to note that these old rails once carried Thoreau, Edward Hopper and countless presidents and luminaries.

I imagine the view from that train was spectacular.

I wrote a sonnet as a tribute to Bass River a few years ago. It touches upon the winter experience here.

This river runs much clearer this time of year.
When puffs of chimney smoke and frost do appear-
I’m drawn, bundled and amazed to this altitudinous place.
Where the wind chills my nose and the snow soothes my face-
To my left is a marsh; dead ahead is the edge of the river.
The marsh grass is as fox-fur, the river cold like winter.
A twelve foot drop from the forest to the beach-
Toppled pitch pines lay akimbo and awry in that breach.
The skeletons of root balls raise their tendrils to the sky.
Buffeted by wind and water, rendered smooth and dry-
I’m humbled by this tide, such fodder for reflection.
When its power makes the river, like clockwork, change direction,
Shall I too immerse in nature, forever endeavoring bliss?
At least I’ll vow as I do now to embrace this cold abyss!

This swan enjoyed it as much as I did.

Below you can see the view of Route 6 in the fog. The highway bridges we all cross when we pass Bass River are remarkable as they are supported only by wood, The brackish water of Bass River would corrode a similar metal structure. Though the view from the highway somewhat belies the beauty of the surroundings, the surrounding view can't be beat.

Carpe Diem!

Video: Time-Lapse Sunset on Stormy Seas

by Jonathan Mayo

  A Sunday jaunt to the Outer Cape was wrapping up as we celebrated our son's 18th birthday. We were heading home when we spied a fiery sky in the distance. We had been gassing up at the Shell station in Wellfleet and drove towards the water to catch a glimpse of the waning sun. At the end of Nellie Rd. we greeted a tumultuous sea and waves were crashing into the stone stairway that led up from an almost non-existent beach.


Here's a time-lapse of the sunset and driving waves.



The sunset was the perfect ending to a 50 degree day, when we knew such weather had all too short a lease. The pictures below reflect the unique beauty of that ideal day. Though the recent snow has its own beauty, we really appreciated the feeling of Spring in January.


Above: Station at Coast Guard Beach

  Below: Nauset Light


    The sun reflects off  Nauset Bay


Carpe Diem!

D-Y High School showcases musical talent

By Jonathan Mayo

Last night the dedication of D-Y students and staff was shown as they presented their "January Concert"

I have had the pleasure of watching my own children progress through the D-Y music program, and the efforts of students and faculty alike bear commendation. Director Alex Pendleton remarked that the D-Y music program  is "...one of the largest in the state of Massachusetts..." He also shared the fact that 20% of the student body participate in these programs. Mr. Pendleton is also a graduate of D-Y, so we can see the lasting impressions these programs create. I'd like to share some video from last night's performances. Each of the bands are represented here, though the 8th and 9th Grade Concert Band's portion is audio only due to complications.

   These bands will all merge in April for a two-day festival presenting the works of George Gershwin. The video  below gives a taste of what to expect. Great job everyone!


Seabees stash trailer at Penniman House, more trees fall at Fort Hill

By Jonathan Mayo

  A recent visit to Fort Hill revealed some Federal resourcefullness, with the use of a US Navy trailer capable of carting 400 gallons of water.  Whether this was placed by the Navy or requisitioned from retired equipment stockpiles is uncertain.

What was even more interesting was the logo stenciled on the side, by "The Seabees" a Navy unit that specializes in Construction. 

On a more serious note, The Park Service is continuing to cut down hundreds of Eastern Red Cedar trees. I first became aware of this In April of last year. To see the original story click below.


The Park Service's mission was stated by Superintendant Price.  "Viewing the open fields at Fort Hill is a timeless experience - rolling fields flanked by forest, marsh, and sea that have such a rich human story to tell. The clearing has opened up a portion of vistas lost since the establishment of the seashore in 1961".

     I feel this effort is misguided, as there is already plenty of open field at Fort Hill, and  the vistas mentioned can easily be seen from the Sharpening Stone. The Park Service is trying to make Fort Hill look more like it did in the 1800's. But as many Cape historians will tell you, early settlers nearly made Cape Cod treeless, decimating the stock to provide for boat building, fuel and construction. It therefore seems dubious to try to emulate that era.

      Last April's cutting of a cedar grove was done strategically, leaving a few choice trees still standing. But those trees are now open to the wind, and two have already blown over.

Another point regarding the opening of vistas is the potential for erosion where woods now meet water. There is an enormous dropoff to the marshes below and the cedars help to hold the soil together.

     It is also worth noting that clearing such areas far from guarantees the "rolling pastures"  envisioned by the NPS. More often than not these areas subsequently become overrun with bittersweet root, cat briar and a host of invasive weeds.

    The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History endeavored a similar project several years ago on Wing Island , attempting also to clear a historical view. But these fields are now overrun with cat briar and vines, contrary to the project's intention of creating idyllic pastures.

     We must remember that such fields were historically kept clear by constant farming and sweat equity. To clear these areas without engaging in similar maintenence defeats the very purpose of such projects.

     I hope that in the future, administrators are mindful of such issues. Cape Cod is not 'east treestump" so we should  avoid such short-sighted projects.

   This kind of beauty is not found everywhere.

Morning crash cuts power in S. Yarmouth

No injuries in one vehicle accident

by Jonathan Mayo

   A one vehicle accident occurred Wednesday morning at 7:10 when a  truck crashed into a telephone pole on North Dennis Rd. Fortunately no one was injured, and  a prompt respose by YPD and YFD helped to safely secure the scene, with live wires hanging in the road.  Roads were slick at the time.  Several school busses found it necessary to change their routes as a result of the crash, with North Dennis Rd. closed briefly. N-Star worked quickly to restore power to the area.

Video: Ice floes on Bass River

Massive ice sheets course down Bass River

By Jonathan Mayo

Wintry Wonder at Bell's Neck

January in Harwich, well worth a visit!

Photos by Jonathan Mayo

Recent snow and persistent cold have made for treacherous footing on the icy paths of Bell's Neck, but today's temperatures softened the paths a bit, and once again we are able to enjoy this remarkable place. 

Make the visit and dress warmly, you won't regret it.

This old post seems to have erupted through the surface of the ice at the West Reservoir.

The area is freezing up nicely, but I wouldn't advise going out there. Some ice fishermen were cutting holes and  dropping lines 10 feet or so away from shore. They didn't seem to be risking much more than a soaking if the ice were to break, but still it seemed a bit premature.

Some interesting ice formations cling to the edge of the herring run.

The Herring River, as always, idyllic.

Upstream, the tributaries have frozen over.

We found this old bit of man-made structure, wholly unsure as to its origin and purpose.

 The marshes along Bell's Neck are beautiful this time of year.

 Sure, it's cold, and a bit slippery, but don't let that stop you from visiting your favorite walking place.

Carpe Diem!

Chickadee poses in the snow

Bird frolics in the first snow.

Photos by Jonathan Mayo

 My initial intention for this morning's walk               

was to track the coyotes that live  deep in nearby woods, getting a sense for their density and territorial boundaries.   Fresh snow affords a rare opportunity to track wildlife.

     But my attentions were diverted by this playful  chickadee, who was glad to pose for a few photos.

    The season's first real snow was a welcome sight for kids, just enough to sled on, and not so bad for adults, with little need to shovel.

  Hopefully many of our winter storms offer such simplicity.

   This little chickadee enjoys it, too!




As for coyotes it was apparent that pups and adults were frolicking in the woods at the height of the snow, as their pawprints were now frozen into the paths.

The area where the coyotes live is dense, perfect for these resourseful creatures.

Take some time to walk  in the woods today. Many sights await you.

Carpe Diem!

Rail Trail-Last Ride?

Winter looms, time for one last ride.

by Jonathan Mayo

 For those of us who enjoy the Cape Cod Rail Trail, there is that bittersweet time of year that we endeavour to make that one last ride, or so we think. Wednesday  I saw the opportunity to  ride the beloved trail in the calm before the rain and snow, now bearing down upon the Eastern US.

   I knew I needed to atone for Christmas's culinary sins, and LSAT study had me tied to a timer all morning, so with a backpack, two cameras and that good old Protestant work ethic I prodded forth.  The first mile was met with cold fingers, but I knew warmth would come with exertion.   Gravity challenges one with age, an adage for both the strains of the inclines and the need to keep toned in the doldrums of winter.  

The trail was  very quiet, quite a contrast to the summer bustle along the popular thoroughfare.

At Harwich's West Reservoir. looking toward;s Bell's Neck at mile 1.5,  winter seems close.


It's interesting to note seasonal changes along the trail. At the tunnel in Brewster, mile 9.3, we see the starkness of December. 

 The same spot in May.

There was nary a soul at Nickerson State Park's lower lot.

I am always willing to ride 10 miles out for this-the beauty and quiet of the Brewster woods.

Yesterday's ride commenced at 1:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that a 22 mle ride was a bit ridiculous given the challenge of daylight.  No worries, though. I felt priveleged to enjoy perhaps my last ride of the season.

       This was the scene at the Harwich rotary, with night settling in as I returned home.

 "Though I slouch towards there through brambles, subsequent glory rewards resilience."

Carpe Diem!