North Boston: a mix of dogs and military sentinels at sunrise

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Sheltered harbors, rocky peninsulas, long sandbars; North Boston remains seductive and inviting, even in midwinter, especially for dog owners and military geeks.

“Do you smell the difference in the air? It’s so healthy!” shrieks Elena.

Elena isn’t talking about Fido scoops! Rather, she’s inhaling the salty benefits of freedom and fun during a short weekend stay in Essex County, Massachusetts – about 15 miles north of the Boston city limits. My friend is from Tula, Russia and we’re visiting New England, specifically: Nahant, Lynn, Swampscott and Marblehead, and staying with newly resettled Russian friends, Tanya and Igor along with their precocious 5 year old. The couple’s quaint rental is no more than ten minutes from several North Shore beaches.

(A large diverse, multi-ethnic population of Russian-speaking immigrants have been making Greater Boston home for decades.)

We hurry out the door before dawn. As a dazzling orange orb lifts into the sky, the mellow surf rolls onto a flawless, empty beach. Being as excited as Elena is, I’m surprised that she doesn’t shed her shoes off and dance up and down the perfectly glassy seashore. After all, she loves to tango!

Instead, she reachs down into the small swells to feel the bone-chilling temps and wisely resists a short swim.

It’s beach season for dozens of dogs that also decidedly stay dry chasing tennis balls. Dogs are permitted to frolic on the beach (leash rules still apply) from October through April. )(Beware kite flyers and strolling visitors.)

Unlike last year, tall snow drifts are gratefully absent and there’s plenty of free two-hour parking to go around. Check out some photos of the fun below and before you visit, check out more to do at the Chamber of Commerce.

Lynn Shore Reservation is 22-acres of protected coastal area in the City of Lynn and Swampscott.
Lynn Shore Reservation is 22-acres of protected coastal area in the City of Lynn and Swampscott.
My Russian guest Elena basks in the sunrise from the quiet shoreline of Lynn Shore Reservation.
My Russian guest Elena basks in the sunrise from the quiet shoreline of Lynn Shore Reservation.
Historic homes line an expansive seascape that can viewed from over four miles of waterfront.   We walked up and down Kings Beach and Red Rock Park enjoying the splashing waves of Nahant Bay.
Historic homes line an expansive seascape that can viewed from over four miles of waterfront. We walked up and down Kings Beach and Red Rock Park enjoying the splashing waves of Nahant Bay.
It's beach season for dogs on the shorelines of North Boston!  Here one prances and dances on Preston Beach on the Marblehead and Swampscott line.
It’s beach season for dogs on the shorelines of North Boston! Here one prances and dances on Preston Beach on the Marblehead and Swampscott line.
Pricey homes abound from the rocky dunes of Marblehead or "The Neck" as the locals call it.  This elite community includes multi-million dollar homes and private beaches.  Odds are good that dogs do not roam as freely as they do on the beaches near Lynn and Swampscott.
Pricey homes abound from the rocky dunes of Marblehead or “The Neck” as the locals call it. This elite community includes multi-million dollar homes and private beaches. Odds are good that dogs do not roam as freely as they do on the beaches near Lynn and Swampscott.
Nose kissing canines near the Marblehead Lighthouse.
Nose kissing canines near the Marblehead Lighthouse.
The Marblehead Light is technically not a 'lighthouse' but rather a skeletal concrete structure that replaced the original 1835 brick and wood tower in 1895.
The Marblehead Light is technically not a ‘lighthouse’ but rather a skeletal concrete structure that replaced the original 1835 brick and wood tower in 1895.
Travelers who take the time to walk along the seaside experience the best of coastal New England.
Travelers who take the time to walk along the seaside experience the best of coastal New England.
Nahant Island once served as the coastal defense site, East Point Military Reservation, during WWII.   The site consists of a foundation of battery pits, bombproof bunkers and fire control towers.
Nahant Island once served as the coastal defense site, East Point Military Reservation, during WWII. The site consists of a foundation of battery pits, bombproof bunkers and fire control towers.
The military ruins of  fortifications built during WWII are a unique historic feature of Nahant peninsula.   Walkers we talked to said that homeowners would have to spend a fortune to remove the tall sentinels.
The military ruins of fortifications built during WWII are a unique historic feature of Nahant peninsula. Walkers we talked to said that homeowners would have to spend a fortune to remove the tall sentinels.