Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009 - Egypt Beach, Scituate, Massachusetts


The South Shore is littered with biblical references. Jerusalem Road in Cohasset, Jericho Road in Scituate, and so on. So it should come as no surprise that there's a section of the latter town called Egypt.


But. from what I hear from my friends - my friends being historical anecdotes that talk to me when I visit the local historical societies; yes, my social life could use a facelift - the naming of the town had little to do with the Bible. In fact, there are two competing theories. And they're both plausible.


One story begins with a drought in the early part of the nineteenth century. During those tough times, apparently, only one section of town was producing any fresh vegetables, specifically corn. A man named Squire Pierce threw open the window to his shop one morning to see a long line of people waiting to get corn - which is the definition of the word "Egypt." "Ah, I see you've all come down to Egypt to get your corn!" said Pierce.


But, there's another story, one of which the locals would be less proud. There was a public establishment in the same section of town that was frequented by sea captains (Scituate certainly had a lot of them) where one could find corn in its most distilled state. Egypt was, in this second theory, a code word for getting corn in that form.


Either way, the village name has stuck, a century and a half later. The beach, just a short little stretch of rocks with a postage stamp of a parking lot that gets overrun by revelers in summertime, is bordered by a heavy wetland thicket. There's catbrier, autumn olive, phragmites, every freshwter wetland or thicket plant you can think of - but not a stalk of corn in sight.


Time: 46 minutes.

New species: (Birds) yellow-throated vireo (lifebird), blackpoll warbler (240); (Wildflowers in Bloom) goat's rue, creeping yellow cress, beach pea (40).

Stranger hellos: 2 (326).

What else is happening: led my usual 3 1/2 hour bird walk at work; made dinner for Michelle; some surprise Captains Guide work; book and newspaper work.

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