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Message in a Bottle Found in the Street in Nahant, Massachusetts

The Boston Herald reports that a bittersweet, five year old message in a bottle found in the street in Nahant has been reunited with 13-year-old Sabine Harnisch who sent it in Gloucester Bay back in 2013 as she commemorated and said goodbye to her grandmother.

Sabine “received an unexpected call from Jana Simonds, of Nahant, who spotted the bottle in the street while walking to meet her neighbor, Larry Carlson, for lunch, just before yesterday’s historic midday high tide lashed the coastline. Inside, she found Sabine’s message, along with her phone number,” according to the Boston Herald.

Message in a bottle found in the street - Sabine Harnisch and Jana Simonds with Sabine's Message in a Bottle. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki / Boston Herald

Jana Simonds, left, and Sabine Harnisch, right, with Sabine’s message in a bottle. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki / Boston Herald.

Sabine’s Message in a Bottle to her Late Grandmother

Remember, Sabine was about 8 years old when she sent her message. Here is what she wrote:

Dear Grandma, I know that you are not reading this note because you are perished. Soon we will be with you. Your one and only.

[phone number]

I don’t know about you, but there is no way I knew the word “perished” when I was 8. But Sabine did. Maybe you are thinking that her parents helped her write the note? But no.

“Sabine’s mom, Taylor Harnisch,” the Boston Herald explains, “said she was waiting in her car outside the dollar store in Gloucester, where her daughter was picking up poster board for a school project, when her phone rang.” The people calling her were Jana Simonds, who found the message in a bottle, and Larry Carlson, Simonds’ friend who she met for lunch just after finding the bottle.

“I didn’t know she had done that,” Harnisch told the Boston Herald, “It was a big surprise. It’s wonderful it lasted that long and showed up again.” I couldn’t agree more 🙂

As for Sabine, she told the Herald that “I was on the beach when I was writing it. As soon as I finished, I threw it in the ocean…I didn’t remember writing this until they called us. I was really surprised.”

Message in a bottle found in the street - Start and end points for Sabine's message in a bottle

Start and end points for Sabine’s message in a bottle, sent in Gloucester Bay and found in Nahant.

Sabine’s mother reflected on the whole experience: “One of [my mother’s] closest friends was from Nahant. She would love it and this story,” Harnisch said with a smile. “My mother was wonderfully kind. She lived with us until Sabine was 5 or 6. She was like a second parent. It was a strong connection.”

How to Reconnect Through a Message in a Bottle

Sabine’s story is a reminder that, sometimes, it’s not about the message in a bottle getting to its intended recipient. Sometimes, in order to bring that person back, to revive their memory, the message in a bottle needs to end up back with the author instead–to bring them back to that moment when they wrote it, to where they were, to who they were thinking of and writing to. What matters is not so much where the bottle has been, or how long it has been gone, or how far it has floated. What matters is the love with which the author has filled the bottle.

Well, I am just smitten with this story. Kudos to the Boston Herald for having the guts to report a bit of happy news! For devoting a couple inches of column space to this lovely story instead of the dumpster fire of politics or car crashes or whatever. Heck, I might just take out a subscription!

Message in a Bottle Found…in the Street?

But I do have one question…See, I’m not from the Massachusetts coast, and there’s one thing in the Boston Herald story that I find perplexing. It’s this part, explaining that Sabine “received an unexpected call from Jana Simonds, of Nahant, who spotted the bottle in the street while walking to meet her neighbor, Larry Carlson, for lunch, just before yesterday’s historic midday high tide lashed the coastline.”

Message in a bottle found in the street - Aerial view of Nahant

Nahant from the air. Photo: Wikipedia user Don Searls.

The Boston Herald reports this astonishing detail in an admirable, matter-of-fact tone, as if there is nothing strange about finding a message in a bottle in the street. But that’s incredible! I really think it is the first time in the history of planet earth that someone has found a message in a bottle that was sent out to sea on a street. Can we just pause to acknowledge how bizarre this is? I don’t believe there has ever been a message in a bottle found in the street after it was sent to sea. Let’s grant Jana Simonds the record-holding title she deserves: Jana Simonds is the only person to ever find a message in a bottle that was sent to sea lying in a public street.

In my experience, messages in bottles only wash up on beaches. How in the world did Sabine’s bottle end up in a street?! Is the street, like, right by the sea, so that big waves could have thrown it up there? What on earth is going on here? Do you guys find messages in bottles in the street regularly on the Massachusetts coast? Here I’ve been slogging hundreds of miles in the blistering sun on desolate shores, and all I needed to do was walk down the street in Massachusetts! Madness! Someone, please explain this to me…

In any case, it’s a lovely story about a sweet girl and a love-filled message in a bottle. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll go ahead and carry this one around in my heart today.

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