We sometimes take our freedoms and peace for granted. We pursue happiness and a sweet life with every new day. As we watch places where people are still dying to be free, we know there is always a price paid for freedom. The older one gets, the more one understands that.
The peacefulness and quiet of the early morning sunrise on the east end is special. That first sip of that first coffee somehow brings you right into the now. I was fortunate once to live for a few years in Montauk right off the ocean. I actually used to make the coffee and walk off the front porch deck down a short path with my beagle. At the end of the short sandy path was the magnificent sight of the bluffs of Ditch Plains Beach. I once counted 432 steps from the porch to the water’s edge while on the phone explaining how far the walk was. While watching my dog roam the offseason beach, I would continue sipping that coffee until the sun was over the horizon.
The night my dad, who loved recreational fishing off Montauk, passed away he whispered to us all in the room, “If only I could see one more Montauk sunrise.” When we as a family fished in his 43’ Egg Harbor, we would leave Montauk Marine Basin before sunrise. We’d be just off the Montauk Lighthouse as the sun came up over the ocean. It is something to watch every time. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel his soul with me each and every one of those Montauk sunrises on the beach with just my dog.
If you have lived by the ocean, you know the ritual and sound of hundreds of seagulls rising to greet the sunrise. The sound of each gull soaring in the sea breeze is a daily Hallelujah Chorus of joy.
There were also many summer mornings when I woke up from an overnighter on my sailboat in Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton. At sunrise, the water usually is very gentle. It’s a peaceful time, even when a slight breeze has the halyards of the sailboats clanking. Then there is the magical sound of mighty cormorants greeting the morning sun. In that instant, there is peace on earth.
Nowadays there is something new in the east end morning skies. The American Bald Eagle has returned to successful habitats all over Long Island, especially on the east end. Every day on social media there are wonderful photos of eagles. Seeing an eagle fly with the massive, graceful wingspan and that distinct white head is quite a sight. They usually head out of the nest at sunrise to hunt.
There was a time when I had to drive from Montauk to Bridgehampton to go to work. In the off season it was a most pleasant drive west even with the sun shining through the rearview mirror. During the summer the more backroad routes were needed to maintain a nice flow to work. I am a firm believer that going a route that may take ten-fifteen minutes longer but has a nice steady flow is better than stop and go annoying traffic. Back before the wonders of Sirius radio I used to listen to the two major local FM radio stations – EH.M 92.9 and the NPR station at 88.3 – usually picking the one that came in the clearest. The stations were my friends as I drove all over the Hamptons, as a writer did in those days before the smart phone.
It is March now; official Spring is soon to be at hand. The peacefulness of the off-season will slowly, then suddenly, end. Yet, having spent many summer days living full-time out east, I usually find that even then early mornings have magic.