By MICHAEL FRETT
Islander Staff Writer
SOUTH HERO – As South Burlington’s Doreen Ingham scoured White’s Beach in late October for driftwood, she noticed something peculiar poking out from beneath a beached log and other debris.
She dug around, she said, and pulled out from beneath the log a small liquor bottle. Inside was a letter, written to someone identified only as “Sam” and signed by someone known only as “M.”
“It’s a beautiful letter and I’m kind of sad to see there was no date on it,” Ingham told The Islander. “When I opened it and started reading it, it was so heart felt.”
The letter, as Ingham noted, was undated. There are no obvious clues about where the letter came from and where it was supposed to wash up. Lake Champlain flows north, meaning the letter had almost an entire lake and numerous tributaries it may have been sent from before washing ashore in South Hero.
“Is it for somebody here during the summer? Somebody who lost someone?” Ingham asked. “It gives me goosebumps.”
The letter itself describes a relationship its author summarizes curtly as “very special,” recalling adventures, book dates and nights beneath the stars.
“From the love letters you’ve written to me, to the flowers you picked for me on the side of the road, you’ve made it hard not to fall in love with you,” reads one line.
According to Ingham, all signs point to the letter having been buried on White’s Beach for some time.
The plumbing tape used to secure its bottle had started to fail and mold had formed on parts of the letter by the time Ingham dug it out from beneath a log. She had found the letter’s bottle further up the beach as well, closer to where water levels might sit in the spring rather than the fall.
For Ingham, it was another treasure that had come from years of casing South Hero’s shoreline. Only a recent transplant to the South Burlington area, Ingham said she had, for years, walked South Hero’s beaches in search of driftwood and other items she and her partner would reclaim for art.
Sold as “BooCat Designs,” their work ranges from ornaments to rain chains and mobiles, all framed with driftwood and colored with other treasures recovered from Lake Champlain’s shores. One ornament shared with The Islander displayed sea glass and pearls within the grooves of a chip of wood.
Walks on the beach were also something, Ingham said, she could do with her son, a 14-year-old who had joined Ingham on South Hero’s shores ever since he was three.
“It’s the one thing we do that really bonds us, the one thing we can do for hours,” she said.
As for the letter, Ingham is holding onto the original copy for the time being. She said she wonders about the couple the letter described, adding that she hopes they had eventually found one another at some point after the letter was sent.
“To put it on paper, it’s so permanent,” she said. “I hope they hooked up somewhere along the line.”