Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shore Things

January in the northeast may seem like an odd time of year to be writing about the beach, but for me, being near the ocean any time of year is joyful. I’ve always wanted to live near the water and a few years ago, I was fortunate to accomplish that dream. My shore condo is in Bradley Beach, a small town on the Jersey shore where I am situated a block from the water.

My love affair with the ocean began when I was first born. There’s a black and white photo of me as an infant in my mother’s arms. She’s smiling, wearing a black one-piece suit, sitting on the sand holding me. There’s another photo of me in a saggy diaper toddling toward the ocean where my father waits in swim trunks. My parents often told me that they took me to the beach within days of my birth. They headed to the Island from the City, the island being Long Island and the city being the Bronx. We had a small cottage not far from the Great South Bay. My grandparents had a permanent home on a canal that led to the bay and I grew up walking to their house where we held lots of outdoor family gatherings. We fished from the dock, and hauled in crab and eel traps that dangled on ropes from the pilings. We went together on clamming, eeling, and crabbing expeditions. We fished for blowfish, and bluefish, fluke and flounder. Afterward, my large Italian family gathered, cleaned the fish, and shucked clams together. We cooked, talked, yelled, and ate till we were stuffed and the daylight faded away. These days those relatives are gone. I still make a lot of the recipes I learned at their elbows: barbecued stuffed clams, linguini with clam sauce or crab sauce, baked flounder. I’m thankful for more than the recipes they taught me.

Today I walked along the boardwalk, bundled up in my winter coat, bathed in the pure shore light, and I smiled. The waves crashed gently, their ceaseless sound a familiar comfort and a reminder of my family ties for which I am grateful.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Big blessings, indeed. Close family and comforting surroundings!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I love the ocean -- the mountains are my home, where I belong, in my blood - my heart, but the ocean! It is my pulse throbbing.

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