(This was written about one summer in particular, but really is every summer)
It was the night before Labor Day and all through the town not a light wasn’t on all were around. At the beach there were fires, children and sounds of summer ending no one was down. In the glittered homes there was music, wine, cokes and beer, and everyone was singing they had not a care. Why? Because it was graduation night for the Montauk Summer Season Class of 2008. The weather had been super all summer, not all that much rain so no one was complaining about rents, mortgages or gas prices. The hurricane news on the televisions were a reminder of other places not so blessed this Labor Day.
As I walked my beagle down DeForest Road in Ditch Plains every light in every room of every home was on. I was invited into about four homes and might have joined those parties except I was walking my dog. As I turned towards the beach at Ditch Plains there were the remnants of lots of huge late night family bbq’s. There were also small groups of teens sitting around smaller fires talking about the summer that was, the big tomorrow and of course about school. Their parents were sipping wine or stronger stuff not even thinking of the huge break-summer- camp-packout that awaited them later the next day. All that was in their vision were the stars, the dogs, their loved ones, their good friends, cool strangers and the reveling of being so alive in this Montauk moment. Perhaps some talked about the end of other summers, like 2005 or even 1987. The talk seemed to get louder as the parties went deeper into the night. Music from the homes just got louder and louder until one home on DeForest Road had at least ten people singing it’s a Beautiful Day by U-2. Dogs throughout the neighborhood were barking not the annoying one but one of approval of what was going on around them. There were no cars moving on this often busy road everybody was staying were they where on the special night. I myself can remember one when I was heading to Washington to be a freshman at college. Little did I know that my life long friends with me that night would never have the same innocence and level of tightness as we had that night as we drank beer, it was legal then for eighteen year olds, and we talked about our future conquests in life and all the money we were gong to make and all the cars we were going to buy. Yes the night before Labor day usually is the last night of summer as we know it. Afterwards the next weeks may have warmer weather but it just doesn’t feel the same.
The next day, this Labor Day, the waves happened and the surfing was huge. The beach was filled it was a gorgeous day. Friends from my past came to Ditch to check out the surf and say good bye to the summer. They all looked out at the amazing surf rides and shock their heads. Finally someone who usually rides me about living in Montauk just looked at me and sincerely said, “You really have it nice.” And everyone who lives in Montauk full time knew both what he was saying and how I was feeling. Yes we have the great sunrises and sunsets with views galore. Yes for most of the year we have a small town Alaskan feel. And yes at times it’s a bit, well, isolated, but it is so worth it. So as I point my compass east as most of them have gone west I look to the rising sun of the day after Labor Day and I get ready for what’s next. Next is the most relaxing six weeks there is in Montauk. Motel and other business owners are now going to relax and have a glass of wine tally up their profits, plan their improvements, and reap the bounties of all the work they did this season most of them working long hours seven days a week. The restaurants will have tables, the IGA parking spaces will be nearby the entrance and the beaches will be semi-private only for those who are left. It’s not too early to look around and say Merry Christmas, but there is a lot of Montauk left before that.