While many people enjoy jumping in the cold water to swim the ocean, I enjoy sitting and watching the existence that is the ocean and everything that makes the deep blue water the living organism that fuels our planet. I watch the people on the beach, if there are any, and the things they do to enjoy their time. Or I take a walk, absorbing the details of the scene around me, such as the coarseness of the sand or the way the terns dive into the water or the white noise of the water in perpetual motion.
Old Silver Beach happens to be have a shallow shelf that extends at least 50 yards out into water, so at low tide you can walk most of the shelf with barely more than your waist in the water. There is velvety soft sand starting at ten feet out, easier on the feet than the coarse, pebbly sand at the natural high and low tide lines. There aren’t many shells or sea glass fragments for fossicking, though I gave it my best. I collected a few pieces of well-scrubbed quartz and volcanic rock to take home. My children played in the sand with Daddy and the awesome Aunties, digging forts, building castles, and sifting sand grains.
The children jump into the water without much apprehension, hurrying out into the short waves with boogie boards, goggles, balls, and buckets. My little one coined the term “sea salad” while running away from bits of kelp and sea grass washing up the shore. Amongst the green bits, I noticed some fragments of sea grass moving against the current. Following one, I discovered these were actually pipefish, a member of the same family as seahorses, swimming along the shore. These are six to eight inches long and colored to blend in with the seagrass. I also spotted hermit crabs (one of which pinched my foot as I walked too close), clams, oysters, gulls, terns, and a flock of four swans flying overhead. The swans nest in inlets and estuaries along the coast.
My husband and I decided to walk up the nearby estuary at low tide. The current coming out of the reinforced channel was nearly strong enough to push us back out to the sea. We trudged ahead, curious what we would find in the grassy wetland on the other side of the road. More oysters and other shellfish cluttered the shores. Gulls nested in high areas that were surrounded by water at any tide. Minnows swarmed in the current, popping to the surface to feed on passing algae and bugs. Shrimp moved about in the brackish water. Fiddler crabs no larger than tennis balls scuttled in the mud, hiding in their burrows so fast you barely got a look at them. Later, I observed the tide pushing into the estuary and submerging most of the sandbars.
Back at the beach, where we parked our belongings for several hours of the day, we ate a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips, and cookies. The ring-billed gulls attempted to make friends with our party, daring within a few feet hoping we’d toss a scrap. We refused and they moved on to the next beach blanket. After lunch, there was more water and sand time. We usually attracted children from other families when we played ball in the water. One pair of children joined us and our Waboba (Water Bouncing Ball), and we noticed that they were being attended by a pair of young care givers whose main purpose on the beach was sunbathing and texting.
My son, who until this trip was complaining that he was terrified of water and crossing it in any form, such as bridges or boats, made his way to the farthest edge of the underwater shelf and didn’t complain once about getting his head wet. He wasn’t worried at all about the water into which he’d plunged. He was happy to find other kids to play with during the summer days.
My daughter waded out while holding hands with an adult. She’s only 2 1/2 and easily knocked over by incoming waves. She ventured out about half-way from dry land before heading back, grinning the entire time.
One of the best parts about Cape Cod lodging is the outdoor shower, so the sand and salt stays outside where it belongs. The house we rented this year had a shower with a spacious cedar frame and walls and plenty of hot water for the six of us to wash up (separately) before going inside. After a great day at the beach, it was time for clam chowder.