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Sixty-Something: The Sounds Of Summer In The Hamptons

T.J. Clemente

We all love the fresh ocean air that folks who live in the Hamptons too often take for granted. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

When you are driving to or from the Hamptons there is one thing everyone realizes; that being it really is a special place. The beautiful pristine beaches are often secluded, until certain summer season weekends and still then only the parking lot access beaches are crazy crowded. I remember exercising my dog at sunrise daily at our beach in Montauk and watching an armada of seagulls rising up out of the ocean to feel the first rays of the sun and then making celebratory sounds in mass. Bo, my beagle, would stop in his sniffing tracks and watch, as did I. Seeing the usually white-grey seagulls climb high into the early morning sky to turn bright yellow with the first sunlight is what living is and how to start a day.

What can you say about the many postures the Atlantic Ocean can deal out? One morning it's as tame as a lake, the next morning it roars with dangerous riptides and 6-8 foot waves. I once lived precisely (I counted) 435 steps from the breaking waves of Ditch Plains Beach. Some nights due to wind direction, you'd never know the ocean was so close and on other nights it was impossible to sleep with the drumbeat of crashing waves sounding like they would reach your bed.

Then there are those many summer nights when the fog comes off the ocean and causes havoc making driving dangerous, as in watch out for deer, people, and pets. I used to have a white convertible VW that lasted for ten Hamptons years. It never had to be towed or plowed out of dicey snowy winter or sandy summer situations. I did keep the top down as often as I could from April until November - going so far as wearing wool hats and big ski jackets. I did this just so I could hear the sounds, things like farmers plows, harvesting potatoes or corn. I always enjoy hearing the crickets at night and other night creatures like happy birds and hooting owls. We all love the fresh ocean air that folks who live in the Hamptons too often take for granted.

The years I lived in Montauk I remember friends coming out from NYC to visit. They would get out of their cars and stand on the porch and just pause and breathe in the air. I must admit many times I sat on that same porch watching Dave and his then twenty-something East Hampton High School buddies BBQ on the grill! We all just enjoyed that ocean breeze and the sound it made traveling through the tall grass.

The very night I met Cindi, who is now my wife, we both left Sag Harbor to go home. I drove to Montauk; she drove to Patchogue. Just as I reached the beach next to my home (Ditch Plains) that cold April pre-dawn early morning I put the VW top down. Then I called her to make sure she made it home safely as I said I would. We talked for an hour or so as I listened to the waves and admired a sky with a full moon over the ocean. This is what the Hamptons brings to a life.

With postcard worthy homes just off dunes everywhere, along with three to four-hundred year old farmsteads sprinkled about, there is a James Taylor type quality sound to driving down the country roads of the Hamptons. But in the summer the lights are on in most of the homes so the whole region twinkles.

I am now married and live in East Patchogue off the Great South Bay, but I still keep my small Catalina sailboat in Three Mile Harbor, East Hampton. Therefore from May to November I drive across most of the Hamptons 4-5 times a week, hardly ever taking the same route. Some days I end up on Wainscott Main Street to look at the farmland touch the ocean. Other times I buzz through the Shinnicock /National Golf Course area and meander down Noyac Road and drive through Sag Harbor. I confess three times a year (always mid-week) I take North Fork Route 25E to Greenport and catch the ferry to traverse Shelter Island. I love the sounds of both the North and South ferries as they head to and from Shelter Island. I once drove a van full of Dan's Papers weekly across those ferries all year round. One February morning I was the only vehicle on the ferry in a windy snow storm. What whistling sounds the wind made that day as the ferry really rocked in very rough water. But now at sixty-something I have the choice to pick the best beautiful sunny summer days and land to cross Shelter Island and land in North Haven/Sag Harbor for the ride up Route 114 to my sailboat in East Hampton.

One time a friend of mine was down as we were sailing around sunset at Louse Point, East Hampton. I recall saying to change his mindset, "Hey billionaires with jets move heaven and earth on their schedules to spend a few summer weeks here in their multi-million dollar mansions and we get to live here every day, all year round. Who has it better than us?" He smiled he knew I was right.

So you see the Hamptons is a special place, with distinct special sounds that all of us hear and feel a unique contentment.

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