When you reflect on your childhood, you probably remember certain places with extraordinary fondness. Maybe it was a park near your house, an ice cream shop across town, or a cozy nook in your local library. Leaving those places is sometimes hard. Whether your family has always been transient or coming to Gordon was your first move, the sentimental spirit in all of us invariably challenges our comfort with forays into the unknown.
Just as we all have fond memories of a place in our past, we continue to have experiences that will shape our sentiments into the future. For me, Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea has become one of those places.
I could write many pages on the wonderful memories I have from my times on this beach. In fact, I don’t let a week go by without visiting the beach these days. Perhaps sharing a few of my most exciting, stupid and serene moments can help you to understand what an incredible place this is. If you’re a Gordon student and you haven’t visited Singing Beach at least once, plan a visit sometime this semester.
My first time at Singing Beach was within a week and a half of arriving on campus. I had seen the ocean before, but I couldn’t recall a time I had been in it. Clothes and all, my enthusiasm won over my inhibitions, and I went sprinting straight into the waves.
For those unfamiliar with Midwestern culture (I hail from Chicago), going to the Great Lakes is what we call “going to the beach.” Every coastal snob who’s ever heard me utter those words has laughed in my face. But let me explain: you can’t see across these lakes, the waves on windy days are comparable with calm ocean waves, there is real sand and the water has no salty taste. They’re wonderful! Ah, but I digress. Where was I?
My first time plunging into the ocean was somewhat ethereal. I remember my confused shouts: “It’s salty! It’s salty! It’s salty!” While I may have licked my lips a bit too much in my hasty enjoyment of the taste, I will never forget that September night.
If you’re into stargazing as a hobby or just love the idea of laying on the beach and staring up at the stars, Singing Beach is the perfect spot. On a clear night, as you walk down the beach to the right, away from the lights, you will be plunged into a serene oneness with the rhythm of the waves and the twinkling of the constellations. Be sure to look up at the sky before you go. Once on a particularly brisk night last winter, some friends and I went there at 2am to observe a meteor shower. Regrettably, the sky decided to show nothing but the underside of its clouds that winter evening.
Perhaps the most special part about Singing Beach is the rocks at each end of the beach. If you turn to the left as you face the ocean, there are rocks that spread out along the coast, leading to a gorgeous promontory a half mile away. From this vantage point, it is delightful to watch the sun sink and gaze at the ocean. Be careful while climbing there though. The rocks are sharp and in some places, a fall will send you to your death. It is also private property, so be sure to keep a low profile. I’ve only been yelled at for trespassing once. (Editor’s Note: Trespassing is illegal; the Tartan cannot be held liable for any reader’s decision to commit this crime.)
Sunrises, sunsets, blizzards, heat waves and every moment between provides a year round ecosystem that is beautiful to experience. On this beach, I’ve laughed and smiled; I’ve cried and yelled. And in between those times, I’ve had incredible conversations and expansive times of reflection.
At the beginning of my freshman year, I was overwhelmed by the reality of having left my home. Here at this beach, I shed tears of homesickness. I was confused, lonely and a thousand miles from my childhood home. The irony I now see is this: the place where I cried, longing for home has now become part of the new home I have at Gordon.
As long as you visit between October 15th and April 15th, you can enjoy parking in the lot right on the beach after sunrise and before 10pm. Police do regularly drive out and enforce parking regulations; be sure to follow the guidelines! Outside these months, you’ll have to park along the street near Captain Dusty’s and walk a mile to the waterfront.
I hope you enjoy this public beachfront whenever you get the chance. Listen closely and you can hear the sand blowing about at your feet. On windy days she is the loudest; perhaps if you’re lucky, you’ll even hear her singing.