The view from Couch Beach in summer.

It was a perfect July morning. Sunny, breezy, warm but not hot. A group of more than twenty of us had gathered on the banks of the North River to bend and stretch together as part of the NSRWA’s Yoga at the River’s Edge program.

We stood in silence amid the pines at Couch Beach, holding Vriksasana, the tree posture, breathing deeply, gazing out across the river and the salt marsh. A lone canoe carrying two people and two fishing poles was visible in the distance. The water below reflected the cloud-dappled sky.

“This is what I hope you’ll take with you when you leave today.” I said, opening my arms wide to the scene before us. “This sense of peace.”

I encouraged my students to stay for a few minutes after class, to absorb the landscape more fully. “You’ll be glad you did,” I promised. “It’s a great way to start your day.”

Serenity may come from within, but sometimes it’s easier to find when you surround yourself with natural beauty.

The pine grove at Couch Beach where Yoga at the River’s Edge classes take place each summer.

I started the Yoga at the River’s Edge program because I wanted to introduce people to two of the things I enjoy most: the North and South Rivers and the practice of yoga. It has turned out to be a good match. On summer mornings, the open space areas on the banks of the rivers are ideal settings for yoga classes — secluded, quiet, conducive to contemplation and inspiration.

But you don’t need a yoga class to find inspiration on the banks of the river. You don’t need someone instructing you how to move and breathe in order to feel contemplative or at peace. It helps, though, to take yourself to a beautiful place.

Couch Beach is one of Marshfield’s little-known conservation areas. If you spend time on the North River, you’ve certainly noticed Couch from the water, the only sandy beach upstream of The Spit. But from land, it’s a lot harder to find.

The access path to Couch Beach is located at an unlikely place, at the rear of Couch Memorial Cemetery, off Union Street. Driving straight down the cemetery’s main road, you come to a fork. If you bear right, you’ll see a metal gate, just outside of which are four or five parking spaces. From there, unless you’ve got your bike, you’ll have to walk.

The path isn’t all that long, and it’s a nice walk — probably a half mile through the woods. If there have been heavy rains, you may have to skirt a few puddles, which grow in size as you approach the beach. Some of the larger puddles, which have been known to be six inches deep, have detour paths to lead you around them.

The waterfront area is large, a pine forest stretching for a considerable distance both upstream and down. High above water level, it offers tremendous views in any direction. In contrast, the beach itself, sited very neatly at the outside curve of a single bend in the river, is quite small. But it’s rarely crowded. You may have to share with a few other people, but seldom any more than that.

I enjoy wading in the river at Couch Beach, but I don’t swim there very often. At mid- and high tide, there is plenty of water, but the current can be strong. I never swim alone at Couch, and always feel safer wearing a life jacket as a safeguard.

I’m more likely to visit Couch Beach to appreciate the scenery. It’s a fine spot for a picnic, or just to spend some time reading, writing, or in conversation. In winter, when I want to get outside for a short and not too strenuous walk, the trek from my car to the river and back again suits me well.

For all Couch Beach offers, I think it’s the view more than anything else that keeps people coming back. I recommend you go see it for yourself.

by Kezia Bacon Bernstein, Correspondent
August 2001

Kezia Bacon Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168.