Island Time

By TOM MUELLER | Jul 05, 2017

There are certain things I’ve just come to count on LBI for: the smell of the marsh air when you hit the Causeway, the loud crash of the surf turning over and over on the beach, the 5 o’clock whistle from the lifeguards closing up shop for the day. Even the incessant ringing of those bells from the ice cream vendors can be music to my ears.

Most nights the bright orange sky lights up across the mainland in a brilliant explosion of glowing cloud trails, yet all is calm and quiet each morning again when the sun breaches the Atlantic’s horizon in a slow motion rise.

You know I’m a fan of this place when I tell you that even the emergency sirens come with some sort of frequency that reminds me I’m in a shore town, on an island, and it’s summertime. Wonderful summertime.

You come to count on these things while on the Island. It’s the repetition of it all, whether a sound, or a smell, or a view. The Island has a rhythm kept not in seconds, minutes and hours, or daily meetings, conference calls and deadlines, but in breezes, tides and sand dunes.

I’ve lived here on my street for 15 years now and have two mourning doves that sit on the phone line outside my window. I don’t know how long mourning doves mate for (or how long they live, for that matter), but I’d like to think that these two birds are the same two that greeted me the very first day I moved in. They coo in the evening air nestled close to one another. Back and forth they take turns chatting about the day. They are reliable, like clockwork, except their time is the only time nature cares to keep around here. Back and forth they coo. Back and forth.

I can’t tell you why exactly, but they remind me of an older couple who for years have played paddleball up on the beach. Those two are never very far apart from one another, either, and I suspect they’ve been together much longer than the doves. They’re quite good at the game, volleying for long periods at very close range. It’s a very quick cadence: snap-snap, snap-snap, snap-snap, snap-snap. Their paddleball is the snare drum in our beach house symphony.

There are so many things on our Island that I don’t ever want to take for granted, things I’ve come to rely on. It’s hard not to feel grateful being here each and every day. Sure, there is an occasional underwhelming sunset, or a day I can’t linger on the beach because the greenheads have taken over, but that’s because life on an island is never static.

Like it or not, even our love birds sing a different tune with age, but continue to sing they do. Never far apart from one another. With or without paddles in hand.

Tom Mueller lives in North Beach Haven.


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