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Picture of the Day
July 12, 2023

spacer i learned to flirt with death at a very young age--being knocked down, dragged, and tumbled was what we called playing in the waves. no rocks to worry about on long island's south shore, but we were quickly schooled in the thrills of rip currents, undertow, and an abrupt shore break that hit like a brick wall. my idea of swimming then was divided between blinding white sand beaches and crystalline chlorinated pools. there was even a pool at the beach, where you'd retreat when the sea was angry and the lifeguards whistled everybody out, breakers brown with sand sucked from the bottom crashing like thunder. but the overcrowded pool was arguably more dangerous, a tangle of bodies engaged in that most taboo pursuit: horseplay--which entailed hardened city kids holding you under when the lifeguards were looking the other way. "a day at the beach" meant being put through the wringer, going home scratched and battered with water in your ears and sunburn too painful to touch. to my child self, this wouldn't have qualified as a beach--shallow, rocky, weedy, and flat. but it is salty, and a late afternoon flood tide over sunbaked rocks makes for exquisite swimming, with water temps that briefly hit 80 last week. and there are subtler pleasures of light and movement to be enjoyed year round, gentle rhythms imperceptible until you slow down. spacer