A tale of Two Beaches

I went to my favorite place in the world a few different times during break. My first visit to Crane Beach was on a short walk with my two dogs. The mere smell of the ocean seemed to lift me out of the rainy Burlington slump that I had fallen into. I may have laughed when I heard and saw waves crashing onto the beach. John Muir wrote and spoke frequently about the restorative power of nature, and I felt it in full force that day. I saw a flock of eiders floating along with the outgoing tide, just further than my dog was willing to swim out to chase them. Every time I go home after a while of being away, more and more sand dunes disappear. Every time there’s a good storm, the dunes take the brunt of the impact, protecting the Basin of salt marshes and islands that lies behind it. They’ve been eroding more in recent years than they ever did before, though. I try not to let it get me down. I noticed one area where dune restoration was taking place; there was an area where what appeared to be rolls of hay had been laid down to keep a dune from crumbling. The marsh grass had all turned orange, and the contrast it made with the blue ocean water was truly beautiful.

The small slice of waterfront realty that I call a beach in Burlington pales in comparison to Crane Beach. The beach in Burlington, though beautiful, is man-made. The sand was put there, and there are large amounts of rocks that were clearly laid down to shape the landscape into the attractive waterfront that it is. Crane Beach is primal; nothing is man-made, other than the boardwalks over the sand dunes and the small paths that cut through the dunes themselves. None of the white pine stands, early successional forests of aspen and birch, cranberry bogs, or vast amounts of marsh heather were planted there. I wonder if any of the trees and shrubs down by the water in Burlington arrived there naturally, other than the invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn. There was much less trash at Crane than there usually is in Burlington, not surprisingly, as the former is in a small town and the latter in a large city. For me, the restorative power at Crane is stronger than in Burlington, and I don’t know if it’s because of the primal, untouched nature of Crane, or because I am so much more familiar with the beach in my hometown than the one where I go to school. Either way, I’m grateful that both places exist as my personal escape from everything that isn’t sand and water.


Crane Beach, Ipswich Massachusetts

Crane Beach at sunset

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