9 06 2011

Crane Beach. Often listed as one of the best beaches in the country.

It’s in Ipswich. Less than half an hour’s drive from my home. And it’s a beautiful drive past farms, lovely antique homes, and the Great Marsh. As close as it is, I don’t get down there enough. To tell you the truth, I could be there every day, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

The water’s usually too cold for swimming, but I can sit and watch the waves roll in for hours. The sunburn on the tops of my feet attest to the fact that I did just that on Memorial Day. But in addition to the wave action, the horizon is a particular fascination of mine.

What’s the big deal? The horizon is simply where it appears the water meets the sky. It doesn’t, of course. This is a optical illusion caused by the curvature or the earth. That is, if you believe the earth is round; I’m sure the flat-earth people have their own explanation.

Just like the sea itself, the horizon has different moods. Sometimes it is so sharp it almost cuts the eyes. On other, cloudier, days the line is blurred, the bluegray water dissolving into the paler sky. On a recent visit to the beach, it was impossible to differentiate between water and sky. The ambiguity was dizzying. My brain wanted a point of reference, but there was none.

When I look to the future, I see the horizon… sometimes sharp, usually blurred, occasionally completely obscured.


Watching the river run

11 03 2011

The Ipswich is running deep and fast today… quite a change from last month or last summer. But it still runs. As much as it changes it stays the same.

There’s nothing new under the sun.

Change is constant, but it still affects us deeply. The simple changing of the season, so welcome this time of year, is treated with entreaty and anticipation, as if Spring has ever failed to arrive.

The only thing you can depend on is change.

Other changes aren’t so welcome… aging, rising prices and, most of all, friends leaving us.

Here in downtown Ipswich we’ve said good-bye to two businesses in the past month that I will miss greatly. OtisRein has pulled up stakes for Santa Monica, Mimi has moved online. As much as I enjoyed the shops, I’ll miss the people more. Susan Otis’s bounce and brightness, Claudia Bowman’s wit and cynicism. Giselle, Mia, we’ll miss them all here on Market/South Main Streets.

You never step in the same river twice…

On the other hand, I’m the new kid on the block. 8 months ago I didn’t know these people. I was the usurper, taking the place of the beloved Barbara. And soon the empty shops will be filled again. Who knows what fascinating characters are waiting in the wings?

Could be… who knows? There’s something due, any day, I will know, right away… soon as it shows…

The river will keep running, and the tides will keep changing…

Beach or trees?

10 02 2011

It was the biggest conflict we had.

While trying to choose where we wanted to live in New England, my husband and I agreed on most criteria: antique house, a bit more land than absolutely necessary, quiet neighborhood. But we went back and forth on whether we placed a higher priority on trees (living in a wooded area) or proximity to the ocean.

Ipswich solved the dilemma. With one foot on Crane’s Beach,

and the other deep in the woods of Outer Linebrook,

this town offered us the best of both. Our house is on the tree-y end of town but with ready access to the beach, we feel like we live “on the water.”

What we didn’t realize at the time, and have yet to take full advantage of is all the natural resources in between. There are walking trails in every part of town. Here’s a great website for maps and descriptions. A walking “club” meets every Wednesday to explore the various trails… Here’s their publicity blurb:

  • Weekly walks, sponsored by the Ipswich Bay Circuit Trail Committee, take place every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Meet at the Town Landing on East Street for a two-hour excursion. Explore trails in Willowdale State Forest, Bradley Palmer State Park, lands owned by the Town of Ipswich, Trustees of Reservations, Essex County Greenbelt, etc. Walks are scheduled mid-September to mid-June, with a short holiday break. Major snow, ice or steady rain cancels. All welcome. Questions?  Call Ed at 978-356-7196.

With this much snow on the ground, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are ways to enjoy these trails as well.

Another tremendous opportunity right here in town is the Ipswich River. Canoeing or kayaking on the river appears to be a perfectly lovely way to spend a (warmer) afternoon. (I remember canoeing with my family when I was a kid on the C&O Canal.) Foote Brothers have a good rental program those of us without our own canoes!

It might be a while before I get out and do this stuff, but it’s nice to dream…

What else should I be dreaming about? Do you have any favorite Ipswich outdoor activities?

Life and Death…

2 02 2011

My next door neighbors are dead.

No, not just reserved, quiet people who keep to themselves. They’re dead.

I live next to a cemetery.

Which in New England isn’t that odd. I wonder if you can drive 5 miles without passing an old “burial ground” or family plot, or active cemetery. Ipswich sure has its share.

And I must confess, I love them. When we bought our house it crossed my mind that it might be kind of weird living next to the dead. But the truth is, I love cemeteries. It’s not a morbid thing; I really find them pleasant.

They are usually beautiful places… lovely locations with often impressive statuary and fascinating stories. I prefer really old ones, where the people whose names appear are so long gone that there is no one left to grieve their loss. The stones serve as reminders of life, not death.

The simple list of names and dates tell stories. Some sad, some sweetly romantic. The woman who followed her husband to the great beyond just months after his passing… at 85 years of age. I like to think she loved him too much to live without him, not that she had one more complaint to make. The row of sad little markers for stillborn children followed by the ones that survived to live long and well. Treasured children, made more so by those that came before.

I can get drawn into a “cemetery vortex” and come out a few minutes later to find hours have gone by, and my camera is full of images most people won’t be interested in. But I like them…