Lost Hampton Treasures

Lost Hampton Treasures by Charles Dyner 10 Arbor Ct. Livingston, NJ 07039 C: 201. 707-0991 charlesdyner@comcast.net Yesterday was a busy day. I took my little daughters on an East Hampton Main Beach treasure hunt. We headed east, past the pilings, towards the jetty, carrying lime-colored plastic pails and matching shovels to dig up and transport our anticipated spoils. “We have to stick together”, I told them. “We can help each other find great things”. Walking along, you couldn’t help notice there is something special about East Hampton Main Beach. The soft non-abrasive sand, the bright beige color, the clean ocean waters, the clarity of the sky, the warm lighting of late-afternoon sun changing the water’s colors moment by moment. We have walked many a beach and few can meet such criteria. Looking at the shore, we could see that overnight the sea had brought a myriad of stones, shells, driftwood, golf balls, a party balloon and deposited them. Yet keeping them within reach so it could reclaim them. The sea can be possessive of its treasures. As we slowly scrutinized the water’s edge, waves presented a new horde of gems on a soft velvety bedding of pristine wet East Hampton sand. We had to spot and grab treasures quickly as they rolled, tumbled, ebbed and flowed just within our grasp, then not as the sea pulled them back. Arielle, 5, yelled, “daddy, daddy, look what I found!!!” There in her tiny, plump little-girl right hand, held out for me to inspect, was a beautiful, deep scarlet piece of beach glass. She placed it exactly where she discovered it to re-enact the how and where, beaming with pride over such an elegant find. What visual acuity that she was able to isolate this amongst a panoply of stones, shells and seaweed, all colorful and glistening in the sun, each insisting, “Look at me! pick me!” Arielle stared at me with the pride of Indiana Jones unearthing an archaeological find. I smiled, she beamed. It felt amazing to be her hero. Suddenly an unexpected large wave dashed ashore, pulling the collection back into its womb. The scarlet beach glass was gone. Arielle’s jaw dropped, shoulders drooped, eyes teared. She plopped down in the wet sand half defeated, half desperately seeking her lovely scarlet glass. A voice pierced the sadness, “I found it. I found it!” Lauren, 7 years old, joyously held the lost scarlet glass in her left hand…and a beautiful big turquoise beach glass in her right. She handed the scarlet gem to her little sister who accepted it as though receiving an exceptional reward. Her eyes never left Lauren’s happy face. The adoration was total. They hugged. Two little bodies embracing, holding each other, giving comfort in the face of fickle nature. I choked down five heaving sobs of teary happiness. They placed their treasures in their pails and continued the treasure hunt hand in hand, periodically peering into their pails to make sure their glass beauties hadn’t disappeared. We came upon a little puddle of sea water, isolated from the ocean but close enough to rejoin it. Lauren asked, “Is that a fish?” In the puddle were several tiny fish swimming around, pushing the puddle’s boundaries, trying to re-connect with the larger freedom of the sea. “Where did the ocean go?” the fish seemed to express with their constant search. Arielle and Lauren combined their treasures into one pail and filled the other with some sea water. They laughed and laughed as they tried in vain to catch the tiny fish with their hands. They were so focused on this task they bumped into each other, head to head. Tears ruled. Then, determined, they used their pail and caught two. The strut they had returning to our blanket to present their catches of the day to Mom was a wondrous sight. Mom’s eyes popped, clearly impressed. Precisely what the girls wanted. Later, they returned the fish to the ocean. The beach snack bar beckoned. I took my girls, Lauren holding my right hand, Arielle my left, and trudged up the sand. I cherished their little hands in mine. Finally our turn came at the ice cream section. Behind it, my girls’ favorite counter-girl held coconut and raspberry Froze Fruits for them. She knew what they wanted, and they smiled happily that she did. Everyone else smiled at all the smiles. After the beach, I took the girls to one of the two holes of water on Two Holes of Water Road. We sprayed “Off” on to repel the bugs and crept up to the big Hole. Frogs bellowed. Lauren caught one and kissed it before letting it go. Ugh! There, on a log in the water were our targets: turtles. I extended my Two Hole pole slowly and I netted a little one. The girls played with it and then let it go, reluctantly. Pictures were taken for proof of capture. Every year, LVIS in East Hampton sponsors a Fair for adults and kids. Plenty to do for all! The girls joined the line of other kids waiting their turn to ride a beautiful little pony, deep chocolate with patches of white here and there. Patiently, it carried crying passengers whose tears soaked his skin and whose screaming affronted his ears. Not to mention the pain inflicted when they grabbed and pulled his mane to hang on. Some kids, you could see, were born to ride. Sitting tall and composed in the saddle, they just exuded a natural relaxed confidence and quickly picked up the trainer’s instructions. After the pony rides the girls got their faces painted. If they hadn’t eventually spoken, I’d have thought they’d disappeared, so unrecognizable were their cute little faces. Inside the LVIS building, we told them to pick out 3 books each. Arielle chose hers in 15 minutes. Lauren pushed an hour. We got her to decide by saying “the cookies outside are almost all gone”. Never before have 3 books been so quickly selected out of the 22 set aside for indefinite consideration. We took them fishing at a little wharf off 3 Mile Harbor road. Both, supplied with rod and reel, began casting. Though positioned a good distance from each other, they still managed to get their lines crossed and tangled together, a hopeless mess. I cut the lines while each blamed the other. Like most nights, we took the girls to a nice family-oriented Italian restaurant in Amagansett. Like most nights, the East Hampton intersection of Cedar and Cooper Streets on the way to Amagansett was the territory of a beautiful fox, which patrolled endlessly lest some prey slip through without paying the ultimate toll. This restaurant was a god-send, with loads of kids screaming and crying “where’s my food?” “Mommy, she took my meatball!” “I hate my brother!” The folks who ran the restaurant had the patience of saints, although every now and then I did see them cross themselves while muttering. The Hamptons are more than just a pleasant place to vacation or visit. They provided the canvas, paints and brushes with which my daughters’ childhoods, experiences and favorite and happiest memories were created. It’s a miracle strip of land surrounded by water, an amazing blend of interior country land and exterior beaches. Side by side, minutes apart. That “yesterday” is twenty five years old. Still, I choke back sobs thinking how happy my girls were. Now they’re grown, gone from the daily shenanigans. I’m so happy my wife insisted on taking thousands of sweet Hampton photo-memories, despite my moaning. Today we enjoy them on an ipad as we sit in the late afternoon beach glow, while eating just-delivered pizza from Sam’s.