at Sandy Neck…
Ever since I was a little girl it has been one of my favorite beaches…
Even back in the day the snow/sand fences were there to keep the parking lot separate from the beach. You can walk along the beach into Sandwich toward the canal or you can walk back toward the tip of the neck to the point that protects Barnstable Harbor. In either direction you can walk for miles. The towns of Barnstable and Sandwich co-own this beach and I remember sitting up late at night waiting for my mother to come home to see if Barnstable had bought the land that extended out into the dunes and behind the great marsh. It was a long and hard battle and an expensive purchase and no one knew for sure which way the votes at town meeting would go.They had bought it! It was the largest piece of conservation land Barnstable had bought and managed at that time and today it is a true jewel in the Barnstable conservation and recreation system.
Even in winter the mystery and romance of the dunes lures walkers, horseback riders and hikers out to explore. The area is great for birding and other sighting of wildlife. Beware of hunters at certain times, however, for the area is also open to certain kinds of hunting. It is open as well to overland vehicles and campers, an agreement that irks some but has made huge supporters of the area in the larger community.
When I was in high school and college I spent untold hours roaming in the dunes, sitting in the sun with friends sharing bad poetry and hopeful dreams. We talked, we napped, we drew pictures, we rolled down the dunes in the warm sand. In winter we hid in the dunes to stay warm on sunny but cold days, days we should have been in a math classroom or history classroom but we were out in nature’s classroom instead. At least that’s what we told ourselves and in many ways it was true. The dunes are wonderful in the summer of course but they take on a very different quality in the winter, a quality that reminds young minds of quests and queries and questions about the meaning of life, survival and death.
Every time I walk on Sandy Neck there are layers and layers of memories of previous years, months and days spent walking here. And yet, as all good beach walkers know, no walk on the beach is quite the same as the one before, the one last year or 20 years ago….Like the birds flying above and the crabs buried below the beach is a living, breathing, ever changing thing….
Every visit is special but some days, like today, the morning is just picture perfect….