There is something timeless and elegant about being in Montauk. I think that is why on an ever-changing planet, people still flock to the East End in the summer. It is as if time stood still and left its footprint in the sand. Looking back I now realize that it has always been a part of me. I have evolved around it. Everything was always there, waiting to be discovered.In each phase of my life, there was something Montauk had yet to offer. Whether you prefer a
Vivaldi string quartet or a reggae band, you will find it here.
From the time I was a toddler my family would camp in Hither Hills. It was always a wonderful treat when we would all hop in the station wagon to take long drives out there just for ice cream. A charm as a child was the hot air filled with wafting scents of coconut oil mixed with the occasional ocean breeze. The sandwiches that mom always packed in her old wicker picnic basket, sometimes mixed in with a little sand, was just part of being out there. Perhaps if I were to set this to music, it might well have the soundtrack to “Leave It to Beaver.”
Somewhere between being a teenager and my path through young adulthood, my interests shifted. The beaches became a necessity for slathering one’s body with oil and baking until I became a proper dark tropic tan. In those days I had no fear of diving right into the waves and riding them for hours on end. The days were long and carefree. I would shower off and head out to the clubs, excited to flaunt my great tan. I dined on burgers and drank Coronas, never really giving much thought to any of it. It did not matter if you had money, as 30 of us could easily share a three-bedroom cottage. This lifestyle was so easy, so casual, so very
As life became more serious and I calmed down, well, so did Montauk. I began to date the man who would become my husband. He introduced me to a different Montauk. Montauk was always his first love, as he kept his fishing boat out in Snug Harbor. I began to see through his eyes. Just like an old black-and-white movie turned to color, every bend in the road became more alive. It began to make more sense. That weird red chicken sculpture that I had driven past so many times on County Route 111 magically became the “Stargazer.” The docks became our home away from home. We had days filled with mystery exploring Camp Hero, and endless mornings just sitting on the deck of the boat with our coffee fetched from Gaviola’s Market. I fell prey to the charms of the East End and the man who showed it to me.
Being in love and driving together was wonderful. As the two-lane highway changed into one lane, we were transformed. If I were to listen very carefully, I am sure there would be a cocktail pianist playing jazz standards as we drifted on a cloud of traffic out past Southampton. Each town had its own charm and mystique. Soon Coronas were replaced by lingering glasses of wine and burgers replaced with elegant dining. The days we spent “doing the wineries” we were giddy more with sunshine and country air than we were drunk on the lingering juicy, sometimes too young, Long Island wines. After a few lobster lunches at Duryea’s, late night dinners at Harvest and Dave’s Grill and weekends at Montauk Manor, our love affair turned into a life journey.
We now take that ride with our own children enjoying every hill on Old Montauk Highway that pretends to be the edge of a cliff. While we don’t camp, we do take them to Ben and Jerry’s for ice cream. Needless to say, my children have begun their own “Montaukian” journey. And as I hand them sandwiches between dipping their toes in the surf, I am sure they might have a little sand in them. The music might be “Sponge Bob Square Pants” but I am sure it will change.