harboring horseshoes

07/09/2024 0 By BuddyCushman

When I think of summer, I think of Little Harbor.

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts filled with beaches. Wareham. My favorite adolescent hijinks beach was Parkwood. Some of that too at Onset. Younger, it was riding our bikes to Pinehurst, sometimes Briarwood or Tempest Knob. Can’t forget arcade times at Swifts. Here a beach, there a beach, everywhere a beach. These holding the warmer waters of Buzzards Bay, generally without waves.

Surely I did beer and girl things at Little Harbor Beach later on. But, most of my sweet memories are driving there with mom and dad, Irene and Win, and a sister or two. Late 50’s, early 60’s. Blanket spread out across the warm sand, picnic basket filled with foods I can’t eat these days – egg salad sandwiches, potato chips, cookies and maybe a soda – so heavenly back then.

Little Harbor was really interesting. You could walk for half a mile, at or near low tide, and barely reach water over your knees. Turn around and across the parking lot, cracked old tar covered with sand, was a gorgeous wetland, and off in the distance, scrub pines, maybe oaks. Back on the sand, little me could take a plastic shovel and dig a channel in from the tideline at the water’s edge, scoop out a large pool at the other end, and in no time my new digs would be filled with minnows. So alive.

Maybe the best memory, and aren’t memories like this filled with the magic of a kid’s eyes? Yes, the best memory was the horseshoe crabs. Slow, steady, meandering through the shallow waters, their tails leaving the kind of trace a Zen master warns against. Leave no trace of yourself.

I’m not sure Bodhidharma ever made it to Little Harbor, or was lucky enough to have a season pass over on the far right side of the windshield – “Welcome again.” That’s what it said.

That Paul Simon song: “We had nothing but the dead of night back in my little town.” I guess that cat never made it to Little Harbor. But I did.

My painting “Little Harbor Lookaway.” The view away from those horseshoe crabs.