Layered excursions into the immediate natural and human environs of the author's Cape Cod home--with the brief, informative wing-spread and bright ideational flicks of a satisfying newspaper column. Finch begins at the window of his Brewster house, observing birds, ants, etc.--and then humans on his side of the glass, set against ""the weight and power of light."" He mulls the continuity of life in an old graveyard, and discovers something about the human balance of compassion and violence in his garden. He rambles over an aborted real-estate development, softly returning to nature--but not for long. He taps recollections of vanished people and homes, and anecdotes about tomfoolery and the way things were. He is himself ""only another--topmost--layer of this human compost. . . the various overlapping layers of history, natural and human, which blend and fuse together in one rich textured presence."" He follows the seasons in a bog, observing its swarming variegated life--and listening. The ""peepers,"" or tree frogs produce ""the oldest sound of spring""; in December, even inland, the sound of surf can be heard. At a pond he celebrates odd and ugly creatures like leeches and pond suckers; in tidal flats he scratches for quahogs and considers man's ""dropped jaw"" in the presence of sunset beauty. Death is contemplated in the winter seas' ""vast morgue""--but at the last Finch opts for the unity of life and himself as ""a part of what I behold."" Crisp natural observation, though a familiar quest.