Labour Day weekend and Crane Beach, an hour or so north of Boson, is crowded with families and teeage groups enjoying the warm sunshine of the publlic holiday that officially marks the end of America's summer. It's part of a regular ritual when we come to stay with relatives here. First we cross the boarrdwalk over the freagile dunes. This time something new: little nesting boxes, shaped like amphorae, have been perched in a pole for the purple martins, whose numbers here have diminished. It prompts the thought that while we have fllown here from Heathrow in less than seven hours, these gorgeously plumaged members of the swallow family travel annually from Brazil to join the dainty piping plovers that skitter by the Atalantics' dying ripples. We walk or just chill on the vast shining sands, where shameless herring gulls will snafffle your pinic if you turn your back then a late afternoon fishfest at one of ouur favourite restaurant's. Woodman's East in the Rough. It's the same as ever, even if the prices appear to have climbed a little. We queue for maybe a half hour to get in. It's always like thi on busy weekends. People come straight from the beach, in T-shirts and shorts, though with bikinis and swimmig shorts usually covered, entertained as they wait with tinny '50s hits, played over speakers.. They still have sand between theit toes. We order sweet clams, dug from the mud flats outisde at low tide, share combination dishes of the same, plus fat scallops, haddock and shrimp, all fried in a light coating of corn meal and sale our salt air thirsts with Sam Adams beers in plastic cups. he food comes in lidless cardboard boxes. It's a wonderfully democratic institution - 100 years old last year. The young,old, wealthy and of modest means all mess down and dip their "steamers" (steamed clams srved in their shells) first in water the rinse off the sand, then in melted butter. Some ore lobster from the counter outside by the road. We drive home as the twilight sky catches fire, full of seafood and contentment.