nature,  new york,  ocean,  parenting

Summer on the South Shore

Summer is a damn sweet season.

There are things that I don’t love about Long Island. It’s expensive. The native culture is…interesting. Aggressive. Abrasive. Extremely honest. Filled with weird acts of generosity and indignation. The local government is so corrupt that our DA regularly sends career politicians to jail. And did I mention that it’s expensive?

But I moved out here because it’s by the water. Long Island is sandwiched between the Atlantic and the Long Island Sound. I live on the south shore, which is the Atlantic side. I can have my feet in the water ten minutes after leaving home. My train rolls over a channel on the backside of a barrier island. When the doors open, I can smell the state of the tide.

My flood insurance is high. My summers are wonderful.

Last year we joined a local beach club with some friends, which has completely changed my life. My whole summer has restructured to surround the weekend. My house is falling apart. My garden is unplanted. I’ve had weeds growing in pots on my front doorstep all summer long. But who has time to take care of these things? There are sandcastles to be built.

The weather has been strange this year. For the first month of beach season, we got rained on or the wind made sandstorms that pelted our legs in a most unpleasant way. We went to the beach anyway.

We sat on our picnic table, eating snacks with the kids as the rain poured down around our sun umbrellas.

As the summer progressed, the weather got better, but now that we are coming to the end, I find that I feel cheated by that first month of missed opportunities. We had fun. We were there nearly every weekend. And we’re still going, for as long as we possibly can, even though the pools have closed and the lifeguards have gone home for the summer. The water is too cold to linger in, but it can still suck eddies around your shoes. The terns still scold if you get too near.

Boy vs tern flock

There’s just something about that place that’s magic. Hours pass before you realize it. Life gets refined down to surviving the heat and sun. We find sand crabs and feed the seagulls our rejected plums. We dig in the sand like children.

I made some good shovel choices this year.

It is these moments in which life feels so simple, so clear. I don’t want the summer to end. I’m not ready to lose my escape from reality.

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