The summer sun is setting on Crane Beach. Soon, the people-and-towel patchwork along the shore, suntan lotion scented air, and audacious heists of larcenous seagulls will be nothing more than memories.
I’m okay with that.
Though I have enjoyed my share of sultry mornings and sizzling afternoons wandering along the white sands of our local paradise, I’m eager for the start of the fall beach season.
As the throngs of summertime sunbathers and swimmers reluctantly recede from the shore like a living tide being pulled away by the gravitational forces of school and work, I am ready to reclaim the beach for the off-season.
For me, this is the best time to enjoy the beach. It’s quieter. It’s cooler. And the lack of people makes its impressive expanse seem to stretch even farther. From the mouth of the Ipswich River on one end to the borders of Essex on the other, miles of recently abandoned coastline beckon to the contemplative soul, offering solitude and the chance to commune with Mother Nature.
Even as I indulge in a last few summer evening strolls along the sandy strand, I am already happily anticipating perfect fall beach days – days when the sun is still warm enough for bare feet, but the air is cool enough for a cozy sweatshirt or fleece. Standing on the edge of land and sea, at the boundary between seasons, it’s no surprise to find your mind wandering to thoughts as deep as the ocean.
Fall on the beach gives you the chance to travel light. Most of summer’s paraphernalia is unnecessary. Enjoying off-season at the beach is a minimalist activity that helps you pare down to the barest of necessities – a towel (maybe), a snack (pocket-sized), and a perhaps a book.
The tempo of a fall day at the beach invites you to indulge in a slower pace. There’s no need to worry about endless reapplications of sunscreen, frantic defense against greenheads, or keeping your children from wandering too far out to sea. In the fall, the beach invites you to sit still, breathe, and let your gaze slide out beyond the horizon.
In the fall, the beach also welcomes our canine and equine friends, bringing an abundance of good karma to this already beautiful natural space. Smiles are exchanged and conversation flows as we meet and greet in the company of our four-footed friends. Between them, the dogs and horses enhance our beach visit with an uninhibited mixture of joyful abandon, animal majesty, and comedic relief
In the fall, you don’t take the beach for granted. Each unexpectedly warm day is a gift. Each sky awash in gentle pinks and blues is a miracle that deserves to be marveled at. Unseasonable temperatures intoxicate even the most responsible inner children, inciting spontaneous acts of truancy.
Away from the noise and chaos of the summer crowds, autumn is the time to discover buried treasure, retrieve messages in bottles, or catch a glimpse of a mermaid risen from the deep blue to see how the land dwellers live.
Yes, the summer days and nights are slipping away like ice cream melting on the boardwalk, but I don’t mind at all. Give me a beautiful, crisp fall day with the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and a capricious ocean breeze whispering in my ear of storms and snow. Give me the silence and solitude and chance encounters of the beach in autumn, and I am a happy girl.
Maybe I’ll see you out there at the edge of the world, on the cusp of a new season. If you see any mermaids, give them my best.
All images from my Instagram feed.
This piece was originally published in the Ipswich Chronicle as part of my bi-weekly column.