“But the old man always thought of [the sea] as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours.” – Ernest Hemingway
Growing up you take it for granted, but Locust Valley, in fact all of Long Island, is a giant seaport. Water is all around you, but you many not notice, because the woods block most views. You have to drive to Bayville or Center Island or Cold Spring Harbor to really feel how close you are to the Long Island Sound. From Memorial Day through Labor Day a part of life revolves around this large, rejuvenating body of water.
The beaches open on Memorial Day, boats are launched and summer gets under way. The people with money head to their summer homes in the Hamptons. Those with less money head to places like Greenport on the North Fork. Those with less money still, remain behind in the City, coping with the heat as best they can. Traffic in the beach towns is nightmarish.
In May soft shell crabs are in-season. Every restaurant has a special, and everyone looks forward to this crunchy delicacy. Later, the bluefish run, and you can practically catch them by hand. Bluefish are hardly served in the rest of the country. If prepared right, they are delicious, but not so much if prepared by the wrong hands.
Shark fishing out on the Island inspired the book (or was it a movie), “Jaws”. Charters run all summer for would-be Hemingways to match their skills against game fish big and small. It was a long time ago, but I still remember going for blackfish with my Uncle Vincent off a jetty in the Sound. Sometimes, we’d rent a small boat and try our luck in Oyster Bay. Don’t know how much we ever caught, but it was a lot of fun.
In California, clams are from Manila, and they are sold by the pound. On Long Island, clams are sold by the dozen, and they come in sizes, cherrystone, little neck, and top neck. People can even earn a living clamming.
Labor Day marks the end of summer.
“Summertime has come and gone and everybody’s home again…They’re pulling all the moorings up and gathering at the Legion Hall. They swept away all the streamers after the Labor Day parade.” – Billy Joel