Friday, March 22, 2013

Searching for Spring on Cape Cod - Part I

One recent Monday the sky was blue and the sun warmed our backs as we walked a Brewster beach. In a spur of the moment, Tim and I decided to go and explore in search of any evidence of the coming Spring. We stopped home to pick up our cameras and a picnic lunch, then headed east to the end of North America.
Our first stop was at Nauset Beach in Orleans.
Surprise! The bandstand sported a 10 foot drift of sand across its front.

A far cry from summer during one of the many summertime concerts.

Liam's clam shack at Nauset Beach won't be open for a while...too much sand.

Nauset Light beach was next in Eastham. We wanted to get down to the beach to see the cliff erosion but discovered that the stairs down to the sand were gone and the viewing platform hung over the edge of the bluff into thin air. We've certainly had some hardy storms on the Cape wreaking havoc with our coastline.

We watched the waves crash onto the beach with a stormy fury for a few minutes.

We then drove a short distance to Coast Guard Beach and found the same scenario. We didn't get very far, the walkway and stairs were also gone by the station house.

 What we did discover, over to our left, were the remnants of an ancient swamp and a way to get down to the beach.

Huge sections of peat were exposed that had previously been covered over with a sand dune.

 The hearty inhabitants of old Cape Cod used this decayed, hard mass of vegetation to burn and heat their homes. They also sold it in sectional squares or rectangles to the citizens of Boston for the same use.

Pictured here is a cedar tree stump sticking out of the side of a dune.

 We drove further out to Truro and a took a walk up Bearberry Hill overlooking a break in the dune from the last several storms.  This barrier dune had once protected the freshwater of Pamet River from the salty Ballston Beach.

This wooden sign at the top of the hill shows the break in 1991.

Here's a video link of the tremendous force of the ocean against our coastline.  It was taken by Eric Williams of the Cape Cod Times.
 ballston beach - capecodonline

I managed to walk across the beach in the middle of the break and stand in awe of the forces of nature.

Water and mud covered the parking lot.

If you face the ocean and then turn right on this beach, you'll find a house that hopefully will survive. The owners have made desperate attempts to secure it from falling over.

 Next to this house was the original entrance to Balston Beach. Now it's mostly gone and only remnants of peat are left along with the posts of a fence.

We enjoyed the sun on our adventure and appreciated the changes in the coastline but didn't find many signs of spring until we pulled into our driveway. We spotted the beautiful aconite and snowdrop flowers peeking their delicate faces up and out of the winter browns.


  1. I love seeing all those photos. The forces of nature have been busy here in Scotland too. Hard to find Spring with all the blowing snow and high winds, but in our greenhouse basil, tomatoes, pumpkin, and coriander slowly burst forth. Spring comes in unusual ways. peace, nicki

    1. Barbara, could you recommend beaches for finding shells and sea glass? It would be very much appreciated.

  2. My advice is #1 look for shells and sea glass after a storm and at low tide. #2 stay on the bayside beaches or where there are a lot of stones and cobbles, the treasures get stuck between the stones as the tide goes in and out. Also search in places that are near piers, docks or where there was a history of commerce, like old restaurants.
    Crosby Landing in Brewster is good for scallops, head east.
    MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown,head east on the beach under an old pier.
    Any ocean side beach will warrant slipper shells, starfish, whelks...try Harwich on Earl street.
    Thanks for your comment.