How can all these cars be here?
It’s 8:30 on a Sunday morning. The parking lot at the beach isn’t supposed to be full.
But once we see the beach, it’s not that crowded. The finish line to a marathon, half-marathon and 5K is nearby, so that explains most of the people.
A group of surfers has gathered to try the early morning waves, so we walk in the other direction.
Suzi asks, what is it about beaches in the offseason?.
I’d say it’s the same thing as beaches in the evening. There aren’t a lot of people, meaning it’s easy to be lost in your own thoughts and conversations, to enjoy the scenery and listen to the waves.
But is it also that in the offseason, the summer houses are empty, their owners back wherever they live, leaving the beach to the rest of us?
Maybe. At least that rattles around my head after I think about it for a bit.
There are other people on the beach besides us and the surfers — families, what looks like a couple sitting under a blanket. A dog chases after a group of seagull chicks at the edge of the water, not coming the least bit close.
We see a guy in a Mount Holyoke College sweatshirt, so we stop to talk with him and his wife. Suzi’s an alum, and their daughter is a student. It’s a very different place than when Suzi attended, but they still have that shared DNA.
The conversation doesn’t go much beyond small talk, and we go our separate ways
Aside from that, there are perhaps passing hellos, but not much more.
Everyone basically does their own thing.
“Want to walk to the American flag?”
We always walk too far at the beach … well, not “too far,” but more than we expect, and probably more than we do normally.
It’s because the beach keeps going, usually without any logical spots to turn around. Plus, when you’re there, why would you be in a hurry to leave?
So when Suzi saw the flag in the distance, that seemed like a good marker.
We actually don’t make it. Thirty to 40 yards beforehand, there’s a gap in the sand and the tide comes in higher. I think we could have walked around it, but that’s close enough.
We turn back. The parking lot seems a long way away.
It’s chilly, and just about cold when a breeze crops up.
We both have winter jackets on. I’m also wearing a hoodie and my hiking boots, and Suzi’s walking in her Uggs.
It’s not too bad, though. After all, it’s late October, so you take your chances. The sun helps, too.
However, it feels like things are going to get worse before they get better. Not because the weather’s turning toward winter. It does that here in the Northeast.
It’s because, while a quiet beach has a way of making whatever else is on your mind go away, you eventually leave.
And when you do, it’s to go back to a world where visiting my in-laws in Connecticut from our home in Massachusetts now requires filling out a travel form and providing a negative COVID test or going into quarantine for two weeks.
And the only reason why there aren’t restrictions to where my parents live in New York is “the interconnected nature of the region and mode of transport between the states.” Instead, New York “highly discourages, to the extent practical, non-essential travel.”
And where, in the interest of safety, Thanksgiving could be up in the air … maybe Christmas, too.
And it feels like it’s never going to end.