Beaches in Autumn

Wide sand as empty as a promotional postcard of remote island getaways.
  • Huntington preserves numerous town salt-water beaches, and also contains a large state park and a national wildlife preserve.  On some unwelcoming weather days in autumn and winter, it is possible to enter a realm of solitude and relative quiet.  Distant shores hide suburban development, wide expanses of water shimmer as always, shoreline stretches invitingly abandoned.
  • Of course, nothing is absolute.  This is one of the most crowded areas on Earth.  Usually there is at least one person _ perhaps walking a dog _ somewhere in sight, or a motor boat on the cold waves.  Leaf blowers in season echo their distant whine.  And too frequently, flight paths from the city airports direct descending jets directly overhead.
  • However, compared to other beaches in the developed world, these remain in an almost pristine natural state.  No boardwalks or massive high rises or ridiculous mansions.  No kites or dune buggies.  No tourists or gaggles of school day-outings.  It seems almost a crime that such beauty and meditative opportunity is effortlessly available to me.
Reeds are evocative in every season, always beautiful, poignant in autumn.
  • Huntington was oriented to maritime activities from its founding in 1643.  Boomers think they have lived through whirlwind changes, but such were minor compared to those faced by early colonials.  In 1620, Pilgrims fled from religious persecution (including burnings and beheadings) into a cold land almost depopulated of natives (dead from repeated plagues.)  In theocratic charge of their own persecutions, Massachusetts Puritans banished many of the tens of thousands who arrived in Boston over the next two decades into Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and Long Island.
  • Until the 1950’s, the Huntington area remained a rural economy connected to the wider world by water_ exporting lumber to the West Indies, supplying food to New York City, becoming a summer playground for day-tripper casino excursions, Gold Coast estates.  After WWII, of course, suburbs grew as people wanted to be near the ocean and sound.
  • And now, a pleasant place indeed.  Many old mansions and their grounds are now public areas.  Many early industrial sites like brickyards or boatyards have become public beaches.  Marshes and wetlands, once used to grow salt hay, are forbidden to new construction.  Much seems to have been preserved, and on a dreary day at Target Rock one can almost feel transported back to the seventeenth century.
I’m not yet adjusted to a remarkably frigid gusty north wind.
  • All this, probably futile.  I realize I am one of the last generations who will be able to walk such beaches, which will be underwater in the not too distant future.  Disastrous storms will make inland living far more attractive than terrors of the coast.  Almost anything may happen, and almost none of it appears to be good.
  • When I was young, I worried about nuclear war.  When older mused on bleak certainty of a universe dying in a few billion years no matter what I did.  Now there are other worries and concerns.  Nuclear war held off for a while, perhaps climate change will be less drastic than feared.  The end of the universe has dramatically shrunk from billions of years to a (personal) decade or so _ if I am lucky.
  • In the meantime, a walk on an autumn beach on a drizzly day is a treat not to be missed.  I need not fly anywhere, spend money, nor miss the comforts of home later to rest my weary legs.  All the glory of existence amid wonders of nature are near at hand, and still available if I only make an effort.

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