Friday, March 15, 2013

Beach Weather

Carson Beach
Ever been to the beach on a cold, rainy day? It can be brutal. It can also, every so often, surprise you with a microcosm of serenity. Finding myself in South Boston on a wet afternoon, I stopped by Carson Beach before heading home. Some Greater Boston residents balk at the mention of South Boston beaches. Too urban. Too gritty. Too close to the airport. The water is freezing. The harbor is polluted. But when I visit the 5 mile walkable, cyclable stretch of shoreline, I see an intriguing, beautiful landscape. There are hills, fortresses, turn of the century pavilions. Views of the islands, the Atlantic Ocean and the city skyline surround. There is some difficult history in this part of town. And there are people eager to forget it, enjoying their evenings after a day of work, watching planes take off over the water. Boston-Reykjavic: 5 hours. Boston-Dublin: 6 hours. Boston-Paris: 7 hours. The rest of the world is really not that far.

Carson Beach
But on a rainy day in March no one was watching the planes take off or sitting on the beach. The shoreline paths lay abandoned, strewn with wet sand from the latest storm.

Carson Beach
On the boardwalk I saw an off duty policeman jogging. I saw a young woman pushing a baby carriage, adjusting the cover when the rain began coming down harder. I saw an elderly man get out of a parked car and stand in the dunes looking straight ahead, then get back in the car and drive away. 

Carson Beach
Closer to the water, it suddenly grew warmer and the wind quieted down. I stepped out onto the sand and took a few strides forward. The harbor looked still as glass. There was a breeze behind me, but not ahead of me, as if the boardwalk served as some sort of microclimate border that day.   

Carson Beach
The quality of light was different too. To my right, the sand looked beige and the water a pale gray. But to my left was a patch that almost looked sunny - warm saffron and turquoise.

Carson Beach
The dunes looked soft and inviting, I would hardly guess they had been covered in snow only days earlier.

Carson Beach
A solitary boat stood, tilted, in the shallow water. Later I learned it had spent all winter in that same spot. As I studied its curious presence, the air was still, almost stuffy. This could be a summer sunset. 

Carson Beach
But only yards behind me it was raining and some degrees colder. The shuttered up snack shack glistened in the fading light as I cycled past.

Carson Beach
Closer to the street, the wind picked up, the tree branches groaned, the rain became insistent. I zipped up my jacket and began to make my way home, leaving South Boston - and beach weather - behind.

22 comments:

  1. Noted the picture of your Brompton. How is it treating you these days?

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    1. Great. It's been almost a year, and I'll probably post a followup review soon.

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  2. The world through your eyes is an inviting place.

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  3. We used to live down the road from the beach and I noticed this too. Walking my dog in the mornings, sometimes there would be a pocket of very different weather out there. I always thought it had something to do with the tides.

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  4. Neat observations. Looks like a nice place to ride as well.

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  5. The relative warmth you note is the moderating effect of the ocean temperature: cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter. Why it's always better at the beach.

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    1. That would be lovely! On Cape Cod it's even colder and windier on the beach in the winter.

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    2. That's been my experience with the Cape too.

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  6. This essay has very meditative quality. It's an excellent start to the day, thanks.

    I see the Brompton has been the steed of choice for a a few blog entries now. Is this just happenstance, or is there some reason behind it?

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    1. I rode it through the winter almost exclusively whenever there was snow on the ground. Now that it's finally nicer I'll start to mix it up. But basically it's my main transport bike, whether you see it in the pictures or not.

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  7. Beaches, water, tides, are certainly lovely and meditative when experienced alone. Growing up on the Oregon coast, cold, rainy and quiet beaches are the norm. Bundling up and just sitting, listening, offers sustenance. I can imagine that in an urban area like Boston, especially, a moment on an abandoned beach could be just enough to remind one of beauty.

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  8. Thank you for this. I'm originally a Bostonian and, long ago and far away, at least one of my grandparents lived around this area and surely spent time around the scenes in these photos.

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  9. I love to let my dog run free on our local beaches. She just goes crazy, running up and down the beach just missing the waves washing ashore (she's not a water dog) so she just loves to skirt the water as if challenging it. When I get to be reincarnated I hope I've been good enough to come back as a dog.
    Emile

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  10. Love the winter beaches. Living next to a popular beach in Seattle I have a great appreciation for the low-crowd time of year, in addition to the mixed stormy sky sunsets that seem to have more personality than the dime a dozen tanned summer sundowns. And a big +1 to the lovely Oregon beaches

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  11. I wouldn't try riding your bike there on Sunday! Just sayin'
    http://www.southbostonparade.org

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    1. Ha I forgot that was this Sunday!

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  12. The only compelling photograph was the one with caption:

    "A solitary boat stood, tilted, in the shallow water. Later I learned it had spent all winter in that same spot. As I studied its curious presence, the air was still, almost stuffy."

    Incomplete Sherlock Holmes, we want to know more about this boat...and the things we find on a bike. Finish it?


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    1. By our harbor abandoned boats are legion. Listing to one side, amputated. A conscienceless storm no doubt kicked a hole in its hull, through which precious resources flowed.

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  13. I love beach and coastal walks in winter. Nobody around and free to wander around and watch the waves breaking in meditative silence.

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  14. Winter beaches are my favorites, always! Glad to learn of this one. Sounds interesting and intriguing. May have to take a trip up there from Rhode Island. We know a thing or two about beaches.

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