Walking the Winter Beach

by Brenda Buchanan

Sunday afternoons lend themselves to rituals.

Leisurely drives to who knows where.  Gathering around the table for dinner with family and friends.  Kicking back with the Sunday papers, funnies and all, at least at my house, where we’ve never stopped immersing ourselves in newsprint. Joe Gale and his real-life counterparts (including three generations of Millikens) are our heroes.

Our central ritual is the Sunday afternoon beach walk, which happens year-round but is especially wonderful in the winter.  There’s nothing like a bundled-up exploration of what the tide has wrought to re-charge a girl for the week ahead.

For readers of this blog who don’t live near enough to a Maine beach to walk regularly in the cold-weather months, here are some favorite photos to get you through until spring.

Some weeks the beach is drenched in sunshine.

And sometimes skies are gray.

More frequently than you might believe, the weather changes in the course of our walk.

Last Sunday the wind was howling at Pine Point Beach, transforming the waves into wild ponies.

Yesterday I found this lobster trap, marooned in the dunes.

Sometimes we’re entertained by intrepid surfers.

And sometimes we entertain ourselves.

No two weeks are the same, on the beach as in life.

It can’t say I’m ever bored when propelling myself through the wind along the wrack line. When I can’t sleep at night, I sometimes try to conjure the sound of the waves hitting the shore, especially the winter shore when stones tumble against each other at the verge, tapping in a rhythm that soothes my soul.

We typically stick close to home—Scarborough and Ferry beaches near Prout’s Neck, Pine Point when the wind and tide are right, Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth when we want to approach the shore from the woods.

Occasionally we wander up the coast to Popham or Reid State Park.

Something always provides a nudge of inspiration for a story.

Do you have Sunday rituals? Or favorite beaches?

Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available wherever ebooks are sold.

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17 Responses to Walking the Winter Beach

  1. Michelle says:

    Snow on a beach! Magical.
    Beautiful photos – I’ve always wanted to live in a seaside town. Maybe one day.

  2. C.T. Collier says:

    Love the wild ponies and the shadow wavers! I’ll be at Bass Rocks next weekend, lots of walking but no beach. Enjoy! –kate

  3. Great pictures! We love walking the beaches in winter, but our beaches are lake beaches. We’re about an hour from the coast, so go as often as we can but it’s ever enough.

    • Beaches are beaches, Linda, and never more fascinating than in the winter when there are fewer of us to discover the mysterious stuff that finds its way onto the sand.

  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    Growing up about every third Sunday was reserved for a visit to my father’s family. You always wore your Sunday best with polished shoes and sometimes cotton gloves and hats. We’d make the hour long drive into the outskirts of Cleveland enjoying the scenery along the way…The homes of the “rich” in Shaker Hts. with huge houses on large lots and glimpses of the inside through the mullioned windows. The twisty road down into the Cuyahoga Valley past the old home in the trees with a real thatched roof. Past all the small shops lining the roads as we got closer to town. Many were open on Sunday afternoon after church let out and always had a busy crowd of patrons. Sometimes we would stop at the bakery that sold donuts with real sweet cream filling. We’d begin nibbling at one side of the cream rosette and remove all the cooked dough around the outside, then the main body with the cream filling, and lastly the rosette.

    When we arrived my uncles would spill out of the house to greet their favorite nieces. But Grandma always waited until we raced up the porch steps. Standing inside the back door she never failed to announce the she thought we forgot where she lived. It had been so long since the last visit. Once inside my sisters and I would head to the front room where the potato chips and pretzels in footed bowls covered with a paper napkin rested. This treat was greatly anticipated since we didn’t get them at home. At the holidays there would be a small bowl of candies from which we would be permitted to take one or two pieces. There was Sunday dinner, wrestling on television, and crumbs to toss to the noisy Sparrows in the back yard. The predictability of tradition is what makes the anticipation so comfortable.

    • Thank you for this lovely, detailed memory, Julianne. My family had similar gatherings when I was young. It always was such a treat to spend the day with cousins, aunts and uncles, whether they came to our house or we went to theirs. Lots of fun memories!

  5. Lea Wait says:

    Love the beach photos! Thanks for sharing. I haven’t been to a winter (or summer) beach in a while. Maybe it’s time.

  6. Pam Cunningham says:

    Thank you Brenda. There’s nothing like a beach in the winter in Maine.

  7. Those are terrific photos, Brenda! There is something about beaches that creeps into your soul. Caribbean, Cape Cod, or Coastal Maine. When my family moved from coastal Massachusetts to West Hartford, Connecticut when I was eight, I thought I would suffocate in the Connecticut River Valley. Fortunately, we spent every summer in Scituate, MA When I was old enough to decide where I wanted to live, it was always by the ocean. The rest I could figure out, but there had to be an ocean.

    • I’m with you, Michele.

      After many years living on an island in Casco Bay, we now live one town inland, so it’s a short (15 minute?) hop to the beach. Of course on work days, I can see the water from my office in the Old Port.

      I don’t like to live beyond salt air smelling distance if I can avoid it!

  8. Reine says:

    I miss looking out the window to see Marblehead Harbor or walking the pathway toward Salem and looking over Salem Harbor. Along with the rocky beaches, these are my best childhood memories.

  9. Beautiful photos and what a great tradition! Ritual and nature replenish the soul.

  10. Thanks for the beautiful pix. And the shout out. 🙂

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