Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Singing Beach and Captain Dusty's Ice Cream

Perhaps it is because I have a writer's imagination. When I hear of a beach named Singing Beach and am told that the sand sings when the water washes over it....I immediately think Broadway spectacular of singing mermaids. This, plus the fact that Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea is a forty minute ride on the commuter rail, is what drew me out of the city yesterday.

A lot of commuter rail outings end in tourist traps of a variety that cause me fits of vapors (don't get me started on Salem, MA). But Manchester-by-the-Sea is different. There were a lot of people on the beach for a Monday, true. But most of them were residents of this small, suburban neighborhood that boasts a little harbor, big vacation homes, and a modest downtown. In other words, this really is the kind of place with an ice cream stand, one grocery store, and a handful of restaurants (not to fear, Bostonites, there IS a Dunkin Doughnuts here, if you feel you're about to go into withdrawal).

View from the train
That said, be aware that there are no signs to Singing Beach. You either have to know where you're going or just follow the trail of happy folks carrying umbrellas and chairs. The beach is a nice size, with clean sand, relaxed denizens, a bathroom, a modest drink stand, and not much else. Which is to say that it's very peaceful. If you're hoping for a Ferris wheel, a hot dog stand, or beach concerts, this isn't your place. To wit, you need to bring everything with you that you could possibly want for an afternoon: umbrella, chairs, cooler, food, sun block, amusement, etc. Otherwise, you're going to step on the beach like I did, and realize that you are not going to last more than twenty minutes without shade.

Well, what can I say. It was a glorious twenty minutes before I had to take cover. And more importantly, I tested the theory of the singing sand.

Twas a very subtle singing, friends. Very subtle. But I think you must keep an open mind in order to hear mermaids singing.

And if those mermaids won't sing? Well, lucky for us, just down the street from the beach is Captain's Dusty's Ice Cream, a fair consolation prize by any standards. This little depot does not have a lot of bows and whistles inside. The flavors are written on white board, and there is no grand display case with the ice cream. But that hardly matters. What is important is that Captain Dusty considers this a BABY CONE.

The large was so big that it was threatening to topple off the cone....the first and only time I've ever had to ask an ice cream server to "please, put some of that back in the case." And the taste of it, be it ever so humble vanilla, with no chance of being homemade or designer ice cream, was really glorious when enjoyed on a sunny day walking back from the beach and waiting for the train back to Boston.

The commuter fare to Singing Beach is @$18. 
For more information on Singing Beach:

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