Friday, September 21, 2018

Under a Waxing Gibbous Moon

Being at the beach in September is a completely different animal than being here during the high season.

It's not just that there are fewer people down here, though that's part of it (which makes running into my sister's family twice even more bizarre). And while there are no lifeguards stationed along the beach, we do get the occasional drive-by from the Beach Patrol, so somebody's still on duty.

The funny part is, when we go into restaurants, it's a different story. If people are here, they're eating in restaurants for dinner, not at home. Last night at the venerable Sam & Omie's, we parked ourselves on the wooden benches with strangers for nearly 45 minutes for the sake of being served before the kitchen closed down at 9 p.m. sharp.

Shoot, by 8:45, a roving bus boy was going table to table in an attempt to gather any dishes that had been finished so he could get on with his dishwashing.

We'd gone out for an old-school beach meal, a fact which Beau found tough to grasp after looking at the menu online. He'd been hoping for a place with a more creative, perhaps more modern, take on the menu while those of us who are lifelong beachgoers wanted nothing more than the familiar.

For me, that was local steamed shrimp and vegetables, while Queen B and Beckham went directly to fried flounder. Beau was appeased with a special of grilled swordfish and Pru was committed to her usual clam strips and onion rings, but only after she'd had a massive salad. In fact, onion rings were on more than half the plates at the table, convenient for those of us who love a good onion ring but had none on our own plates.

Always a good sport, Beauty, who eschews the bounty of the sea and refrains from kissing Beckham once his lips have touched any, made do with cornbread, black beans and rice and any onion rings she could cadge.

Pru was aghast to learn that I have no history with Sam & Omie's beyond going there last year with her posse. Having always stayed in Kitty Hawk, I was never inclined to drive 20 miles to check it out. If I was going to cover that kind of distance, chances are I was eating in Manteo or along the causeway, whereas she remembers being a kid and spending entire days at Sam & Omie's with her uncle.

But what's really different about being down here so late in the year is the light and not just the fact that the beach is dark not long after 7:00. Even the afternoon sunlight lacks the brilliance of June or July light. When it shines on the (mostly empty) cottages during our afternoons on the beach, it's not nearly as bright or blinding as it was a few months ago.

It's almost as if there's no promise of more to come in September's sunlight, and of course, there's not because we're already ankle deep in hurricane season (the post-storm jellyfish arrived a couple days ago) and even I have to acknowledge that Fall is hovering, ready to descend (and harsh my mellow).

Make no mistake, I'm thrilled to be sleeping to the sound of waves through my sliding door and window and waking up to see the sun splayed out on the ocean, even if it's nowhere near as blinding as it had been. But I'm also smart enough to store away the memories of it all because I know this is it for life on the OBX this year.

And lest any of this sound like a complaint, be assured it's not. I know how lucky I am that there are unexplored beaches in my immediate and short-term future and that it's nowhere near time to pack away my Summer wardrobe yet.

Once I pluck it from the clothesline on the porch anyway. What's not to love about the drip-dry life?

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