Building it took only a season. The first night we slept there, with the windows opened, we listened to the concert produced by fowls and insects in the marshes. A surround sound symphony of cracks, tweets, buzzes, squeals and pitched cries filled the night, competing with the syncopated roar of breaking ocean waves. The music magnified and traveled over the still waters ofMecoxBay. Our bedroom felt like a boat moored in the middle of nature, unencumbered by human noise, amidst nothing but land, and sea, and undisturbed fauna and flora.
What we had never considered when first given in to our children’s request was that this weekend abode would soon become our main residence.
It started two days after we had settled in. One morning, a couple knocked on our door and presented us with a pie! They introduced themselves as “neighbors” although they lived a mile away around the bend. Bynoon, the neighbors across the street invited us for lunch at their house. The following week, another couple down the street hosted a dinner in our honor and introduced us to their local friends. Another neighbor threw a lavish party and invited everyone on the street to celebrate summer.
In our many years onFire Island, our social life consisted entirely of our friends from the mainland taking the ferry to come over. Unlike some families that moved in full-time in summer and whose young children attended camp there, Ron and I worked at our respective jobs all week while our children—often the conduit to parents’ socializing with other parents—were at day camps on the mainland and later at sleep-away camps. In seventeen years, we’d never made new local friends.
Yet here, in the firstHamptonssummer, our circle of acquaintances and new friends expanded fast. After a lecture at Guild Hall, a woman turned to me and asked what I thought about the topic. As we walked up the aisle with our husbands in tow, we all decided to go out for coffee…. When I stumbled over a store’s threshold into the arms of a mother-daughter duo, they invited Ron and me for a party at their home. During the Film Festival, while buying an extra pair of tickets from a couple, we were literally “picked up,” when they asked us to join them for dinner.
In subsequent years, at a phase when grown children drift away, our beach house became their weekend gathering place, keeping them in our life. We biked and kayaked and swam as a group. We cooked together one main meal each day, freeing us to make social plans for another meal—except that our children often chose one another. One by one, they married, yet their friendships deepened to include new spouses.
A few times a year, a huge bulldozer dredges up sand to create a wide tunnel that drains the overflow ofMecoxBayinto the ocean. Within days, natural pools are formed, warmed by the sun. After babies began to arrive in our family—and all too soon turned into toddlers and beyond—they loved to pull a wagon to “the cut,” splash in the shallow water, build sand castles, or catch crabs with a net at the end of a pole. Often, playmates’ parents now park their cars in our driveway to take advantage of our proximity to this children’s haven. Yet again, our beach house has extended our years with our family, keeping a second generation offspring close.
As an antidote to the hectic weekends, the quieter midweek days come. We had long sold ourNassauCountyhome and bought an apartment in the city for winter. Now we move in to the beach from spring to fall, I with my computer, Ron with his golf clubs. I’ve signed up at two local gyms, procured a library card, joined a Mah-Jongg game, and opened an account at theSag Harborpharmacy. We now dance to the drummers at Sagg-Main beach and attend services at the Jewish center.
As I watch the dawn activity on the sand bar in “the cut,” where flocks of birds of dozens of species vie for a footing and nesting, I observe a few SUVs pulling onto the beach, their drivers seeking what I am fortunate to wake up to. I take my coffee thermos, don a life vest, and hoist my kayak intoMecoxBay. As I paddle into the midst of nature, the pink in the east changes to gold, the crisp air welcomes me, as do the swans.