It was my first time out to the island in spring, and the sea roses were full of pink and white blooms. (The beach, however, is being rebuilt and is scheduled to be open mid- to late June, so if you're going specifically for the sand and surf, you should check to see if the project is done.) On previous trips to Spectacle Island, I've seen numerous people out strolling the beach searching intently for artifacts that have washed ashore. As we talk about in Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands, the shoreline of Rainsford Island is strewn with interesting relics that have been churned up by the surf. But I had never spent much time searching the beach on Spectacle Island that runs southward from the dock.
Boy had I been missing out. The beach is filled with a full spectrum of frosted, polished sea glass. White, green, blue, brown. Even more interesting to me were the pottery shards scattered on the beach. There were pieces of china of all different colors and patterns. Looked like the bull in the china shop had just barreled through. Some of these pottery shards date back decades or even more than 100 years, back to a time when Bostonians threw their refuse right in the harbor from the wharves. You kind of feel like an archaeologist wondering the origin and the stories behind the plateware. Who had used these plates before? What were the social occasions like? Did they come from a shipwreck? Or one of the many institutions that used to exist on the islands?
I know it's tempting to pocket these little artifacts, and many people like to collect the sea glass, but the park management requests that you leave footprints and take pictures but leave the artifacts behind so the next person can get the same thrill of discovery.
FYI, I'll be giving a talk out on Spectacle Island on July 20 at 1 PM and 3PM for the book, so it's a great time to come and check it out yourself.