Enjoying the fall beach season
Our favorite time of the year to hit the beach is not in June, July, August, or even September. Too hot, too humid, too many people, too much noise. Nah, we much prefer the beach in the fall. Always have, even when we lived in the cooler, quieter, less populous state of Maine. Now when we hanker for the sand and surf, we wait out the crowds.
So last weekend- admittedly a warmer-than-usual October weekend - we drove to Sandwich. Somehow we’d only recently heard about the famous boardwalk that connects a small parking lot to Town Neck Beach.
The boardwalk itself is worth the trip. It stretches 1,000 feet over a sandy marsh and a creek, and most of its planks are inscribed with names or messages. It turns out the original boardwalk was destroyed in 1991 by Hurricane Bob. To raise money for its reconstruction, organizers sold planks to residents and businesses.
Searching for words underfoot kept our kids entertained. I told them I spotted the word “knucklehead’’ on one of the planks (true) and challenged them to find it (they didn’t). I also told them that I had bought one of the planks myself, using the pseudonym “Salvatore Izzo’’ (this will come as a surprise to the real Mr. Izzo).
From the boardwalk, you can look out on an expanse of grassy marsh, watch osprey soar, and follow minnows as they navigate the creek. If you’re lucky, as we were, you can watch someone jump into the water to retrieve the cellphone he dropped from the boardwalk. (You dropped your phone in the water while jabbering on amid all this, what’s it called, nature? That’s karma, fellow.)
At the end of the boardwalk, we descended the stairs to the beach. We should have realized, given the 86-degree warmth, that we wouldn’t have a beach entirely to ourselves, as we often do in October. Still, only a couple of dozen people were there, either lying in the sun or walking with a partner or dog.
Normally we have to bundle up a bit, too, in hooded sweatshirts or windbreakers. No need this time.
My kids searched for shells, clambered on rocks, and worked on their yo-yo mastery - the sorts of things you can do any time of year, frankly, but which are far more relaxing in the perfect beach month of October. Parking’s free, too, off season.
Hurry, though, if you’re going. In my book, there are only a couple of months left in the beach season.