By Diana Poulos-Lutz

Outward Bound on a May Day at Jones Beach


It was the first weekend of May, and the weather forecast called for a mixture of showers, clouds, and sun. However, on this Spring weekend, the sun and clouds ruled the weekend at the West End of Jones Beach, for the most part, with only brief and light rain. As, I headed toward the Jetty I was reminded that the walk requires a different kind of endurance in the warmer months, as the sand was softer and, therefore, longer walks a little more challenging. I welcomed the exercise. As I approached closer to the Jetty, I noticed that although the large groups of Dunlin were gone until the colder weather returns, a small amount of Sanderlings were foraging for food. Many of the Sanderlings now look much different than in the colder months, as their plumage has changed from silver-grey to a striking reddish-brown color.  Although the Sanderlings’ behavior is mostly the same as it is in the winter months, chasing the waves and foraging for food, their change of color represents the changing season, their readiness to migrate and to find a northern spot to breed. Also by the Jetty were some Oystercatchers making their presences know with their loud calls. By contrast, some Purple Sandpipers were seen seemingly hiding as they were camouflaged within the rocks of the Jetty.

The West End of Jones Beach had a quiet, and solitary feeling this weekend, inviting meditation and contemplation. The direction of the wind and the water currents created rolling waves and blowing sea-foam. Besides the mesmerizing noises of the rolling waves this weekend, and the absence of large groups of birds, also noticeable was the presence of fishermen at the West End along the Jetty and inlet. With the quietness of the shore, the moisture-filled humid air, and rolling waves, I sat and looked toward the fisherman for some time. There were no other photographers in the area of the West End inlet at that time. A couple of beach walkers, and someone on a beach bike passed by. Besides that, the fisherman outnumbered others this weekend.

We all have our own reasons for visiting the shore. Some of these reasons may be photography, exercise, peace of mind, meditation, bird watching, or quality time with friends or a loved one.  I thought about why the fishermen were there.  I had assumed they were perhaps there for food for themselves or another, or the love of the sport of fishing, or time with friends. I decided that assumptions are often wrong. I thought of asking some of them why they chose the West End of Jones Beach for fishing, and why they decided to fish. Is the fishing good here at Jones Beach? Why did you chose this area for fishing? Many of the fisherman were either solitary or with a friend or two. I approached a few of them with these questions. The first two people who I asked told me that they like the Jetty area but, as for the fish, they only catch and release. With the absence of a bucket, cooler, or any other kind of pouch to take a fish home, I asked them if they did it for “fun.” They smiled. There was my answer, mostly. Another two people told me that it was their first time fishing there. The last couple of people told me that their reason for fishing was also for enjoyment. One person said that he specifically likes the West End because of the long walk to the Jetty, and the lack of crowds. He told me that since he moved to the city, he still takes the trip the West End. The shore is a nice contrast from the business of the city.

Although I didn’t speak to all of them, from the few that I did converse with, it was clear that not all of them were there for the fish. I didn’t actually see anyone on the Jetty catch a fish, while I was there.  They were there for many of the same reasons I was. The sights, sounds, and ambiance of the shore is a meditation on life. Something else was feeding their souls besides fish, as it was mine. Either with a camera, binoculars, or a fishing rod, oftentimes the same end is achieved. They’re not searching for an uncommon bird, or capturing the waves in photographs. Yet, still, some of them are meditating, and searching, just like I am, in the simplicity of the shoreline. Whether with the satisfaction of catching a bluefish, or capturing a special photograph, the fulfillment is made possible by the magic of the shoreline.

Before I left the Jetty area, I observed a large boat rocking and moving along the choppy waves. The name of the ship was “outward bound.” It was an appropriate theme for this peaceful spring May weekend. Spring is a time of change and new beginnings, and many of us take the opportunity to be outward bound during this season, in order to rejuvenate and welcome newness, whether it be a first fishing trip, or a change of mindset and spirit.

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