After a long week of miserable grayness, and squeaky soggy wet shoes, Friday evening warmed up and Saturday morning began with bright sunshine and a true summer hum in Eastern Mass.
Nam caught a bus up from New York Friday night, and I picked her up from South Station at 130am. When we got home, instead of falling straight to bed, we did our usual diddle daddle, yackety yack and didn’t sleep till 3. So the warmth, and sunshine of Saturday was well underway when we began our day at 11am the next morning.
I had reserved free passes from the Reading Library for Boating on Spot Pond in Stoneham. We picked them up and head down to the Stoneham Boating Center. It took a little while (5-10 minutes), but we got sorted and hit the water. None of us had Kayak-ed before but it seemed to come quite naturally. After figuring out our rhythm, (and what a control freak I was) we decided to Kayak the entire circumference of the Pond. Malli sped out ahead of us, but Nam and I chatted away enjoying the warm sun, and occasionally dipping our feet in the water.
In fear of getting her bum wet, Nam had asked to sit in the dry seat in the back, but halfway through our ride we decided it didn’t make sense because I was so much taller than her. We contrived a plan for us to switch seats. Having approached the shallows and Nam stood up. We didn’t realize how wobbly the boat would be, and how easy it would be for Nam to lift one leg over my shoulder, and then fall- life jacket and all-right into the cold shallow water. Of course we were both doubled up laughing our heads off when she came up, but in fear of breaking the rules (no one is allowed to swim in the water) we quickly got her back in the boat and in the front seat.
The rest was smooth sailing, We rowed by (as close as I was willing to get) a flock of seagulls and other birds on a rock, and under a tree that had fallen into the pond, forming a little bridge we could go under. We passed people fishing, reading, and generally enjoying the sun. We used muscles we’ve hardly used before and by the end were moving at quite a respectable pace, barely ever knocking oars.
After 2 hours on the water we came ashore and head to Parker National Park in Plum Island Newburyport one of the easier “hikes” in Malli’s book (He wants to do at least one per weekend). Before starting our journey we went home for dry clothes and sunscreen.
It was about an hour drive. Malli snoozed in the back while Nam and I chatted, sang and were up to our usual shenanigans in the front. We drove into the island and all the way to the end before turning back in search of nourishment; which we found in an Italian sub made at a small grocery/liquor/sub shop that goes by the name Dicks.
We drove around a bit and found the entrance to the park. It was a lovely meandering drive along the marshland, for a small fee of $5 for the car. Our hike – Hellcat Interpretive Trail- turned out to be more of a drive when we got down to walk and were literally chased back into the car by mosquitoes the size of birds. Six of them were attached to the back of my calf at once and it was a disgusting mess of blood and gunk when I frantically smushed them.
** Note to self next time leave the sunscreen, grab the bug spray.
We almost gave up and went home but decided to drive along the beautiful swamplands to the end of the road. To our joy we found a small parking lot and a lovely, sparsely populated beach. There was a literal and loud collective sigh as the soft white sand slipped between our toes. It transported us back in time, back home. The salty ocean air and hot sand calmed and excited me at once. I wanted to run as fast as I could, breath the ocean air deeply into my lungs; at the same time i wanted to lay down on the sand and listen to the waves crash into each other.
We started walking. When I stepped into the water I was awakened from my dreamy stupor. As warm as it was, as hot and bright as the sun shone on the white sand, the water was a frigid 60 degrees at most! And yet I couldn’t stay out of the ocean. I ran, splashing over the little waves. I noticed the sand beneath the cold water was warm and inviting. The loosely packed sand was quick to envelope my feet and I stood for a while looking over the surf at the open sea; the salty fingers of the wind running through my hair.
I was shin deep in the sand when Nam joined me in the water. Turning to talk to her, and at the slightest movement having sand build beneath my toes threw off my balance and I plopped-butt first- into the water. It was freezing… and yet I didn’t want get up.
After a few minutes to get comfortable with the temperature of the water it get wasn’t so bad. I played Frisbee with Malli for a time and then discovering our feet sinking into the beach forced you to raise your knees when running raced each other down the beach. Nam followed behind snapping pictures of the beautiful,ever-changing designs in the sand. We played in the sand like children. Forgetting our “mid-twenties” status and letting loose the wild children we once were. We spent 3 hours at the beach, collecting shells, crab and other sea creatures, sliding down sand dunes, tossing driftwood; We imagined the 16 foot great white just off the coast, daring us to come deeper into the water.
After a while Malli was practicing his martial arts with a large log of drift wood, Nam fashioned herself a lovely bed of warm sand and napped and I sat upon the hillock with the sun in my face reading. A few minutes before sunset, when the wind cooled we walked back to the car and on the drive back managed to catch the sunset over the marshlands of Parker River State Park
It was a fantastic Saturday. We were exhausted and after dinner fell like flies one after the other into our beds.