Summer finally comes to Sandy Point

 As I See It,
Bill Sargent, The Daily News of Newburyport, Edition 

“After a long,  drawn-out winter, Summer arrived with a bang in early May. So, I decided to visit Sandy Point. The dusty road through the Parker River Wildlife Refuge was lined with scrums of photographers scanning the bushes for migrating warblers and owls.

“Most of the photographers had a camera and lens worth over $1,000 and some had tripods, camouflage, blind, and lenses worth thousands of dollars more. I probably passed close to $100,000 in camera equipment. Hunters spend about the same for guns and ammunition, justification enough for those who need good, hard economic reasons for why parks and recreation should be encouraged.”

“Then, a softer justification came by in the shape of a 1910 Model T “Flivver” trundling down the road heading for Sandy Point. I was instantly transported back to a more innocent time.”

Sandy Point was about 500 feet wider than the summer before. And the shallow water made it look like the Bahama Banks bonefishing flats.”

“Pure white sand was blowing over the dark moist sand surrounding the lagoon and piling up as miniature sand dunes behind tufts of grass, horseshoe crab shells and even the remains of a duck egg. The egg had probably been laid by an immature female who hadn’t learned to build a nest before laying her eggs willy-nilly on a windswept beach. We had one do the same thing once on our recently cut front lawn.”

“Piping plover were rushing down to the shore, then back to their nests, behind the symbolic fencing rangers had erected to keep people from stepping on the nests that were really just scrapes in the sand.”

A Model T on a drive to Sandy Point. Sandy Tilton photo

“The rangers had also picked up the worst of the debris left by the March storms so that now the beach was wide, inviting and already covered with sunbathers. Boaters would start arriving in earnest after Memorial Day.”

“I decided to walk around the point where clammers were busy turning over the flats in pursuit of soft-shelled clams. The bluff behind the beach had taken a beating. Trees slanted out at odd angles but this provided an arboreal lesson simple enough for even a lowly science writer to understand. I usually separated my trees into tall, leafy trees; short, leafy trees and conifers.”

“But along this shore, each tree was decorated with its own distinct blossoms. Of course, even a writer can recognize a pussy willow. Their puffy, white buds had already matured into 2-inch long catkins attracting hordes of pollinating insects.”

“The second-most plentiful trees were black cherries with 5-inch-long clusters of round, white petals. But the trees’ most distinguishing feature was their dark gray bark covered with perfectly etched out scales.”

“These wild cherries had evolved a clever strategy for their dispersal. Birds, mice, foxes, and coyotes loved to eat their edible fruit but couldn’t digest the pits, so they would poop them out along the edges of fields and in dunes. Wild mice also help the cause by hoarding the seeds in empty birds nests and in their underground burrows.”

“The blossoms of the yellow birch were the most difficult ones to recognize. Their long green catkins would produce small brown cones chock full of tiny wind-driven seeds. The birches had grown up, reaching for the light above the shell and dirt road that used to lead to a beautiful old seaside cottage on the Ipswich Bluff side of lower Plum Island.”

“The remains of the recently demolished home reminded me of the four hermits and one widow who used to live on Plum Island Sound. But that could be explored at another time. Now, it was just pleasant to snooze in the warm, welcoming sun.”



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