The Secret Beach
The Secret Beach Rosemary McKinley There are beach people and there are mountain people as I have observed over the years in an unscientific observation. People can be divided into groups who love the heat, sand and water and those who like the cool mountains, trees and dirt. We fall into the beach category. We grew up the small, sleepy one mile square town of Sea Cliff that is flanked by Hempstead Harbor on over half of it. Our summer days were spent at the beach at a sturdy, functional Sea Cliff Pavilion, a structure on stilts that accommodated families with cabanas to hold all kinds of water paraphernalia. The lockers and cabanas eliminated the need for dragging everything you needed every time you went to bathe or picnic. It served as a great meeting place for young families back in the ‘50’s and 60s. Even though my family did not know my husband’s family then, we all congregated there. Moving ahead to 1995, I had my first glimpse of the North Fork of Long Island. I hadn’t realized how rural and close to water it was. In my 20’s I had visited friends on the South Fork and loved the beauty of the farm atmosphere and proximity to the ocean. However our subsequent trips in 1995 were for the purpose of buying a vacation home on the North Fork. Then it was affordable for us and we decided that this area was where we would spend our free time. We were intrigued by the fact that there was water everywhere; there were creeks, bays, inlets and of course Long Island Sound. On one of our excursions with a realtor, we saw a beach that we made a mental note to revisit. After we bought our small house, we tried to retrace her steps and mistakenly found another beach that we have grown to love. We want to keep it our beach so I will not mention its name. It has no lifeguards nor does it have bathrooms but we cherish its quiet surroundings and natural setting. It is rocky and the colorful shells pinch your feet so we must wear water shoes. We love the place because it reminds us of our beloved Pavilion that burned down in the late ‘60s. There is no building, actually. It is not convenient, in that we have to lug all of our beach stuff each time we go there. Yet, it has the essence of our childhood beach. The families that we have met over the almost twenty years we have been visiting are precious to us. One large extended family has shared boat rides with us for fun. They are from Lynbrook. Another woman told us the story of this beach and Helen Keller. It seems her family rented their cottage to Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan the summer Annie collapsed on the beach and went to the local hospital. Needless to say their vacation was cut short but the Helen Keller story lives on. Another family had young children who have grown up before our eyes every summer. They live in the town adjacent to Sea Cliff. We have a lot in common when we talk about landmarks of the town. We also became friendly with a mother and daughter who are always laughing and telling us stories about previous owners in the area. Still other families we have met do not own houses here but come to this beach once or twice a season. We like to catch up on their family news. Our special meeting place is also our sanctuary during the week. We sometimes go there just to sit and listen to the quiet and the water splashing on the shore, with a book in hand. It is one of our favorite spots to recharge after a hectic weekend of visitors. Many locals, who have access to private beaches, come here every so often to soak up its beauty, as well. Our secret beach has its drawbacks but its appeal is still strong to anyone who loves natural beach settings. Here true beach people abound.