On the second day of our Cape Cod vacation, a note was deposited on our windshield. It informed us that the beach we were walking to—the beach we've always walked to—is a private neighborhood association beach and we're not allowed to use it. The neighborhood stops at our rental house. We're also not allowed to walk down the dirt road in that direction.
It's true that there's a sign on the weathered split-rail fence that says the area towards the beach is private. The neighborhood both before and after the sign is modest and quiet with shingled Capes tucked in with scrubby oaks and beach plum shrubs, houses becoming more stacked and cantilevered as you approach the shore. Over the past decade, we've rented a house within that boundary as well as our current one just outside it. We've always walked the same five-minute route to the beach out of habit. There are no boundary markers on the beach and we've never had a problem. The sign seemed more like an attempt to keep people straight off of 6A from treating the little neighborhood like a public parking lot. Surely it didn't matter if a couple of kids and their parents flip-flopped their way in that direction, buckets and shovels in hand. The note indicated otherwise.
I'm nothing if not a rule-follower, so we lugged all our stuff in the opposite direction of the ocean, as per the notice, and then hung a left to get to the officially sanctioned beach associated with our property. It took twice as long, the whole time muttering stuff under my breath:
Think they're too good for us.
Don't want our footsteps sullying their dirt road.
They think they can own the beach. YOU CAN'T OWN A BEACH!!
Actually, they can, interrupted Husband, who will always put a technicality ahead of marital harmony. Why do you think waterfront property is so expensive?
Yeah, well, do they own the air hovering over the beach? Do they own the wind???
I smiled as I imagined fanning the smoke from our grill over the fence in that direction come suppertime. (Real mature, Tammy. Maybe this is why they don't want you there.)
Deeded beach rights means they own the land all the way up to the water line, he continued.
God, he can be so infuriating sometimes! I envisioned myself standing exactly at the water's edge, back to the ocean, water lapping my heels, directly in front of whomever put that note on our car as they tried to enjoy their now-obstructed view. Just standing there. Staring quietly. For hours.
If only I had the stamina for revenge.
I was so busy being indignant that I almost missed all the beautiful beach roses growing along the side of the road on this new route. Scores of rose hips, too, brilliant red- and orange-colored fruits the size of squat radishes swelling from thorny stems among the splayed, rosy blossoms. I've been wanting to make rose hip jelly for years, but never had a plentiful source. Maybe this would be the proverbial lemonade?
We emerged from the path to take in the new coastal view. We were surprised to discover that it was the exact same beach. The other path was literally a stone's throw away, and I don't even have a very good arm. All that extra walking to get to the same place? It basically brought us to the other side of the family that had camped out by the original path.
Really? Is this what things have come to? Making a big goddamned deal about petty rules that amount to nothing? Who has that kind of time? (Says the girl who guards her parking spot like a vigilante.)
Anyway, whatever, we needed the exercise. All those vacation doughnuts weren't going to work themselves off, so I took that opportunity to ask around about the rose hips (I had already reached my quota of windshield admonishments for the week). One guy said he used to own property along the path and all the houses on it were rentals. Probably nobody would mind if I took a few rose hips. So I did. A few stuffed in a pocket here, a few more tucked into the beach bag there. By the end of the trip, I had a small sack filled with the fruits while making no dent in the supply whatsoever.
When we got home, I made two sweet little jars of rose hip jam, and that has made all the difference.
(For the basic technique and ratios, go here.)