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Sixty Something: Looking Ahead To Warmer Days

T.J. Clemente

A blustery Montauk day. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

I can tell you from my own personal experience there is no more a hallowing sound than the wind whipping off the ocean on the coldest nights of a Montauk winter. The wind makes a scary fine high pitch whistle that gives one shivers no matter how many blankets you are buried under. My bed was 462 steps from those loud crashing waves and with the wickedness of the ocean wind blowing in, every breaking wave sounded like a car accident. Outside, the temperature would be in single digits and the idea of my dog's pre-sunrise early walk was not the material for a pleasant dream.

Back then, I was a writer with a 10 a.m. Monday morning deadline. I would start writing late Sunday night, and no matter how many articles I was writing, I would finish and email them in just before 10 a.m. Luckily, in the winter there were only four to five pieces to write - not like the summer season when there were seven or eight to compose. I was always assigned them at Thursday's editorial meeting. We would all sit in a conference room and pick the stories we wanted to cover. I would then do the research and interviews by Saturday and write them up by Monday morning. I still believe there is a magic to writing under the pressure of a deadline.

In those days (15 years ago), the wintertime in Montauk was a special kind of bleak. Most eating venues were closed and between the IGA, the pizza joints, and my favorite go-to place, Wok & Roll, my winter menu was limited. Cooking at home was not an option. I still had my bad Manhattan habits of devouring take-out food.

Times have changed, but cold winters are always the same. Short sunlight days spent hustling quickly to the warmth of the car, home or work is a skill we all have acquired. In Montauk, winters seemed colder than the times I spent in the Alps or the mountains of Colorado. They just did!

My "Baxter State Park Jacket" from L.L.Bean was worth every penny I paid when wintertime came around. I guess we all have go-to winter coats when it gets that cold. This year, there is the added dimension of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. It is making forecasting for what might happen in 2021 difficult. However, I can confidently predict come late spring and into the summer, there will be scores of wonderfully warm beach days and evenings. I can predict wearing my favorite "short" pants and t-shirts and enjoying that glorious, soothing summer ocean breeze. I know I will be riding that breeze sailing in Gardiner's Bay chasing daily sunsets.

There is no doubt that 2021 will be a year of many tasty lobster rolls for me, along with outdoor BBQs. I can promise everyone I will be enjoying some cold beers, choice wines and lots of morning coffees sitting out in the yard reading all that information our phones now have.

Yes, there is so much uncertainty these COVID days. The future is always uncertain and end can always be near, but if one is smart, careful, wise, and follows all the protocols, the sunny days will be enjoyed to the fullest.

As a sixty-something year old, I have a different view of things than when I was young and the road in front of me seemed to have no end. Yet the feeling is the same: so much to do, so little time.

I have a granddaughter who was born in England pre-COVID last year that I still haven't seen. I want to show her the wonders of the East End and to experience the wonders of the Hamptons. I want to look deep into her eyes. It will perhaps be through those eyes that the long-extended future will be observed. As for now, I have some choice books I received as Christmas gifts that need reading. I have renewed my Netflix and the cable TV bill is paid. With my wife, I am home safely biding the time until it will be safer to visit those we love, do things we used to do and always hoping for the best. Early January every year is the time for renewal. It's a time to refocus on long and short-term goals. It's a time to be optimistic. The ocean beaches can look devastated in the winter with severe erosion. Yet, by springtime, the beaches bounce back. I think we all will bounce back after this cold Covid-19 winter. Better times hopefully lie ahead.

Everyone starts a new calendar year: things do change between December 31 and January 1st. It really shouldn't, but it always does.

Here's to hoping 2021 is going to be a good one.

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