Sunday the sun didn’t shine. We had plans for nearly a month that we would go to the beach and I wasn’t about to cancel over a small detail like sun. Robert Moses State Park was the destination and it is the beach of my childhood. The Atlantic Ocean called and I wanted to see what the storm Sandy had done to it’s shores last fall. You know it’s not really a great beach day when you debate how many towels you will need for warmth.
My memories of Robert Moses State Park as a child are so vivid you would swear we were there everyday. In truth, it might have been three times in a summer. We had a plaid, cylinder cooler that doubled as a table or seat. A faded yellow umbrella with fringe around the edge anchored the sight visually. Soggy egg salad sandwiches wrapped in wax paper with a hint of refined sand provided by the breeze were served. We had homemade ice tea too. My mother, aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered at Field 5 and we spread out into a small village of blankets, towels, coolers and umbrellas right near the shore. It was heaven.
One of the charms of Field 5 is that it connects by beach or a path through the marsh to the lighthouse. I haven’t captured it well here but it is a beauty and at the time surrounded by majestic dunes. There were about 12 children in all and at some point or another my cousins and I would agree it was time to visit the lighthouse. Of course, we took the beach path not only because it took us along the shore and then through the dunes but…. it also took us through the nude beach. None of us ever said, “Let’s go look at the naked people.” It was a silent agreement made with knowing eyes and smiles. We averted our eyes pretending to see nothing when faced with the “au natural” folk and yet we looked at EVERYTHING. I must have been a teenager before I actually focused on the bodies on that beach and opted instead for the actual wildlife path. Still, I have fond memories of those early walks.
This past Sunday I wanted to show my friend J. the lighthouse. The path through the marsh was destroyed and roped off so we had to go along a gravel path. It was then I realized the dunes had been swept away. Heading over towards the beach this was the sign that greeted us. I was saddened by it. Still, walking along the shore there was a group of about 10 naked souls gathered together laughing like seagulls during a feast. This time I averted my eyes really wanting to see NOTHING but my heart did jump for joy. I liked that they were there and marveled at their fortitude. I was wearing pants and a sweatshirt.