Natural Beauty Comparable to the National Seashore

The panoramic majesty of the marsh on either side of Scorton Creek is mesmerizing.

This is my first note to you since Judy, Josh, Max and I moved to East Sandwich in September. In all of my years on Cape Cod, I have always lived in the Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay coastal villages. I have loved it but I have rarely gotten beyond the west end of the Cape Cod Canal, when I have been boating.

Natural Beauty Comparable to the National Seashore

Now, I am very close to the east end of the Canal. Since in 2014 we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Canal, I figured I owed it to Cape Cod LIFE readers to move closer to the Canal. And since Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod, is celebrating in 2014 the 375th anniversary of its incorporation as a town, I thought it best if I moved to Sandwich.

The house fronts on Scorton Creek. This is a tidal creek which winds its way for miles, from north of Route 6A out to Cape Cod Bay. My writing table is upstairs and I can see over Cape Cod Bay, past the east end of the canal to the shore of White Cliffs in South Plymouth. Now I can reach all of our harbor villages fronting on Cape Cod Bay by small boat from right behind my house. I may never go to work again. Wait a minute, what am I talking about? This is my work!

The panoramic majesty of the marsh on either side of Scorton Creek is mesmerizing.  Looking due west from the house, the marsh is about one mile from side to side.  The tidal creek has carved its way, snaking east, then west, then east, going for more than five miles to where it joins the Great Marshes just west of Barnstable Harbor. Barnstable Harbor is bordered on the north by Sandy Neck; this scene is captured by photographer, Nancy Welch, on the front cover of the Cape Cod LIFE 2014 Seascapes Calendar mailed to subscribers with this issue. If you don’t have our 2014 calendar, or want an extra one, see ordering information below. But I guess I digress.

Have I mentioned in the past that I am fascinated by the changing tides? On the Buzzards Bay coast, the average difference between high and low tide is approximately five feet. At the east end of the Cape Cod Canal, past Barnstable Harbor and out to Wellfleet and Provincetown, the average tidal difference runs nine to ten feet. The result in Scorton Creek is a surging tidal current with the power to carve the shape of the creek throughout the length of the marsh. The New Moon and Full Moon tides are noticeably more significant. In general, I have a pretty good understanding of where we are in the monthly phases of the moon just by observing the tide.

For me, the waves constantly rolling in as sea swells through the bay until they land on the beach, signify the pulse of the earth. The tidal tributaries form arteries feeding the sea to the great marsh, and the marsh feeds the world in it and around it.  Each blade of marsh grass stands tall and rich green on the first day of summer. As summer melds into autumn, each blade of marsh grass is dyed golden, starting at the top and each day draining down the stem in direct proportion to the dwindling hours of daylight.  The lowering sun warms and weaves the greens and yellows in a glowing patchwork quilt.

This time of year I always think of my favorite line written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “How well I know what I mean to do, when the long dark autumn evenings come.” I feel energized.

I need my energy at this time, as does the whole Cape Cod LIFE staff; we are gearing up for celebrating Cape Cod LIFE’s 35th anniversary in 2014.  Stay tuned.

My Best,


Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher


Brian Shortsleeve

Brian Shortsleeve is the President and Publisher of Cape Cod Life Publications.

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