The spring of 2021 is now rolling towards Memorial Day and then the summer season. Every day the weather is improving as mother earth brings the East End back to life in brilliant colors. As we age, season, grow in life experiences, we as sixty-somethings conjure up thoughts of days in the past of the way “things used to be.” We say we long for those days yet, every day new devices and new technologies become available to make our lives better and easier. Maybe what we long for is that youth that slips through our fingers like the sand falling out of a big broken hourglass as in The Wizard of Oz.
When I was in my twenties, who talked about a daily diet with the knowledge that most folks have today? In the 1960’s, who had blood work done every few months? Here we are already 20 percent through the 21st century riding the forever cresting wave of moving time. However, on certain spring mornings on the East End, time sometimes seems to slow down, if not actually pausing.
I believe everyone has some sort of personal relationship with the ocean. Going to the beach is a ritual that goes back to the earliest days of our childhood. The East End of Long Island has a scenic shoreline as beautiful as anywhere on earth. Eventually we are all drawn to it. I remember living in East Hampton Village, pre-internet smart phones and driving the short trek from the village to Main Beach, East Hampton to just look at the ocean and take in that sight. Winding down Ocean Avenue with the top down on my white convertible VW always wondering in what mood the mighty sea might be. I’d do this at sunrise, sunset, full moon, full stars, and clear nights with perhaps my total favorite, before or during a big storm.
As a small child I can remember my parents taking me to Jones Beach. But what I remember most was the forever walk on the sand from the car in the parking lot to the ocean’s waves. Later it was me with my children at the beaches in Montauk walking from the car to near the shore, setting up the towels and chairs in the beach sands way back in the 1980’s through the 1990’s. Perhaps this summer it will be with my granddaughter!
To this day, I find it difficult to walk on the sand of an ocean beach. Every step is a struggle through that deep ocean beach sand. The whole concept of how much sand there is on earth is one of those conversations one usually has after some sort of altered state activity. About that ocean beach sand, it is amazing that only ocean sand is used to make cement, that desert sand is not usable. A Wikipedia factoid claims the world uses over 50 million tons of ocean sand a year to make cement. Yet, there it is on every ocean beach, everywhere on earth.
The sand we built our sandcastles as young children just to watch an eventual wave come and melt it down to a mound of gooey, wet sand is still there and will perhaps always will be there long after we are gone.
It’s sort of funny how the new totally amazing waterless photos from the planet Mars sometimes reminds me of the rocks around Ditch Plains Beach where the ocean meets land. Erosion has changed the bluffs out there at Ditch Plains and Camp Hero in Montauk by the Lighthouse radically in just the last 20 years my of living on the East End.
Like those Montauk bluffs, time is changing everything else slowly but suddenly. COVID-19 is still teaching us a lot about ourselves and the world we live in. It has shaken our confidence and made us think of safety and preservation. Yet, in the end, when you stand on the edge of the ocean at any beach and hear the roar of a crashing wave and feel the cool foamed sandy water rushing in your toes, you realize a life is a collection of moments. Some good, some hard and then some special like moments standing in the sand at the beach.