Don’t miss the video at the bottom of this post. I think you’ll find it’s worth the three minutes.
Merriam Webster: Indian summer, 1) a period of warm or mild weather in late autumn or early winter. 2) a happy flourishing period occurring toward the end of something.
I think I’m encountering a “happy flourishing period…toward the end of something.”
The calendar said it was fall but the soft South wind blew as if it were summer’s last breath across our Long Beach shore.
Fall for me is a looking-back season, back over the summer, sometimes back…over my life. I know, I’m always urging, “Be present, that’s all there is.” And it is. But sometimes we all take a look back through life’s long lens if perhaps only to put the present in perspective.
I’ve been around a good while but I also get around pretty well too. I swim a lot, bike a lot, and generally enJOY each day. Much of the joy has to do with being on our Long Beach shore.
As I walk this shore these Indian summer days I see young life, fresh life, some so newly born, some in the spring and summer of their lives, all tasting the salt of life.
I recall my first glimpse of the sea. My dad didn’t have a car, didn’t drive, so I didn’t see the sea until a neighbor, Mr. Herman, took me and my sibs to Rockaway beach. (You think the little things you do in life don’t make a difference, won’t be remembered?)
I was about eight or ten. At that aware age, the first experience of the scent of salt and the sight and sound of roaring bursts of white overwhelmed me. I’m sure it was my rebirth on this planet Earth.
Now I’m trekking our Long Beach shore feeling at home again. I see tots playing in the sunset surf long before they are approaching pubescence, but so happy to be near the sea to dance and mime the gliding gulls.
I see teens and not-so-teens, skimming across the sea with all sorts of boards and bodies. I see all manner of passions expressed by photographers, kiteboarders and whirling hulas…all in their various seasons of life.
This last, a pirouetting hula girl, captured the attention of all who ventured near. Especially me, but only to duly record the event, of course, to be a humble conduit for you, dear readers. Video at the bottom.
I recall the Memorial Day weekend of my life. I was so full of anticipation for the day, for my life ahead. Some of it comes into such sharp focus: The giddiness of my first job at the local A&P at 95 cents an hour, my first pay envelope, my first date with Winnie Nino, at the Park movie in So. Oz. Park, Queens. We were 13 but I paid half price for her, I convinced her to say she was only 12. I know I had less than a dollar and I wanted to buy a box of Good and Plenty.
Then, oh so inexorably, just like these waves crashing in drumbeats upon our shore: High School graduation, becoming a Marine, a cop, a husband, a dad, then a house, retirement, grandkids, divorce, new love, a condo…wave after rushing wave.
Then…this golden shore…in these sunset years.
So, as I stand on this beach a bit past the Labor Day of my life, I do look back through life’s long lens. But it’s not with sadness or regret, it’s with a new appreciation of life, of just being here, on this shore, at this time. It’s an exhilarating presence.
And then, I’m present again. I’m no longer looking back. I’m here and once again it’s as if I too am skimming the surf, gliding with gulls. I’m home again.
Of course, Just have most of you, I’ve had some stormy seasons in my life, many squalls, even a cat 5 hurricane or two that flattened me for a while. But I got up again, and again, and again.
I’m still alive on this planet. I didn’t die from a car accident, or disease, or the drugs so prevalent growing up. I didn’t perish in a foreign land or on the streets and subways of New York as did so many of our military and police in keeping us safe. I’m very much alive and aware, and I simply don’t take any of life for granted. It’s far too precious.
As I stand at the ocean’s edge, this autumn, I’m where I was “born,” I’m with all life around me: the visiting International Paddle Board competition, the hula girl, the families in sunset fun, the scurrying sanderlings, the swooping gulls, the soaring ospreys. And the sea and the sand and the sky.
Life, beautiful life, a salty “happy flourishing” in the Indian Summer of my life.
My Indian Summer video: