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Things lost and found at the beach

dog on beach
Susan Moeller
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The beach is greedy.

The surf eats the sand. The wind carves out the dunes. The tide sucks shoes, hats, and iPhones out to sea.

But sometimes the beach gives back.

I was walking The Hound a few weeks ago and by the time I got home, discovered I had dropped his nose halter - a handy invention that goes over his snout and prevents him from pulling me down when he’s on the leash. I’d dropped it someplace on Chapin Beach in Dennis. Boom. Another $25 down the hole. In fact, that would be the third $25 down the hole because The Hound has busted two other halters.

I dragged my feet, not wanting to buy another one, making do with an old one that The Hound thinks is more annoying than the one I lost. Then, walking on Chapin three weeks later, a woman commented on his nose halter and noted that someone had hung one on the fencing.

Dear listener, I can not describe my joy at discovering that, indeed, it was my nose halter. Where had it been the last few weeks? Who knows – so to speak. I’d walked the beach several times since losing it and would swear it was not hanging on the fence. So, thank you to the good Samaritan who rescued it – and saved me $25.

We’ve all lost something at the beach or found something that someone else has lost. I still keep an eye out for the red hat that blew off my granddaughter’s head at the Bass Hole in Yarmouthport seven years ago. Last month I found a handsome, wide-brimmed straw hat with a preppy red and green band. It had been on the beach so long that sand was encrusted in the straw like gravel in cement. I hung it in my outdoor shower in hopes that rain and spray would cleanse it but finally had to admit defeat and toss it, although I did briefly consider turning into a planter.

A photographer friend has an entire portfolio of lost single gloves – many of them at the beach. I just found one yesterday - a lonely beacon fruitlessly waving at a lost owner. I doubt many of them ever get reunited and I think about what a cold and angry ride home it is for the losers. I’ve certainly been one.

Sometimes it’s not just the beach that’s greedy. I had a pair of shoes stolen at the beach. Yes, I believe they were taken, not just misplaced. My daughter and I were taking a beach walk before going to the movies. Like everyone else, we left our shoes at the end of the path and strolled down to the water. When we returned, her shoes were there – so I did know where we had left them – but mine, a ratty pair of canvas slip-ons, were gone. Well, if someone needed those worse than I did, more power to them. But it meant we had to stop at the discount store on the

way to the movies so my daughter could go in and buy me a pair of shoes to wear into the theater.

That kind of experience makes the dog halter episode even sweeter, although it might have benefitted from a touch of good karma.

The Cape Cod Bay tide was extremely low the day the halter resurfaced, and The Hound and I had walked, run and ball chased all the way to the edge of the surf. Walking back on the flats, I spotted a child’s single sneaker. Size 8 or 9, I would guess. Almost new. Black and green, as I recall. I imagined a tired Dad, a 3-year-old on his shoulders, trudging back the half-mile to the parking lot, not noticing that one shoe had become disconnected from its owner. Or perhaps it was a grandmother, trying to hold the hand of a small child as well as carry a sand pail and a jacket and a pair of soggy sneakers. I could feel their frustration when they noticed and then weighed whether it was worth risking their sanity and the tide to search the expanse of flats for one tiny sneaker.

So I carried the shoe back, and after reuniting with my nose halter, put it on a bench near the path, beyond the tide. It was gone the next day, so maybe they came back for it. I hope so – and that finding it brought them great joy.