The unusually shaped island of Cape Cod was originally a peninsula reaching out from the Massachusetts mainland until a canal was forged through its narrow connection in 1914. The matching silver arcs of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges span the canal, prone to traffic slowdowns even in October when I was there and congestion that I can only imagine in summer.
Bike paths run along both sides of the canal. I joined cyclists, runners, walkers, fisherfolk, rollerbladers, birders, photographers, and parents with toddlers in strollers and babies in backpacks to walk the scenic trail from Sandwich to the Sagamore bridge. Ships passed through under the bridge; a train chugged by on the other side of the path. The canal reflected a deep blue that day.
I stopped to ask two men intently collecting something along the rocky shore.
“Clams? Mussels?” I asked.
“Snails!” one man responded, holding up his plastic bowl with a grin.
The nearby ice cream shop was closed. A shame, I would have ordered a Shipwreck Almond cone.
The iconic Sandwich Boardwalk stretched over a marsh and Mill Creek for about 1,500 feet. Destroyed by Hurricane Bob in 1991, it was rebuilt, then repaired again after storm damage in 2013. Plaques tell of the biodiversity, rare birds, and shellfish that thrive in the marsh’s environment. At high tide, I learned, people jump from the boardwalk to swim, and kayak through the creek and waterways.
I was fortunate to see the bridge in its current state. The town recently decided to demolish and rebuild the bridge, higher to avoid rising waters, with railings, and meeting accessibility requirements. It had not been declared a historic structure because of the rebuilding projects.
One more beach to share on this journey… At Sandwich, I walked through a gap in the dunes, the entry to all the beaches I had seen on the cape. it’s forbidden to trod on the dunes. They breathe of wildness, forming a natural barrier between residences and the sand and sea, with natural grasses hiding a busy life I read about it in Henry Beston’s book (Yarmouth, Chapin beach).
Rocks covered with moss filled one area of the beach. Mussel shells painted the point closer to the canal in blue and black.
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