Day 4: Sandy Hook, New Jersey, 454 miles, 5 states
Peace flows into meSara Teasdale, ‘Peace’.
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea …
Sandy Hook is a beautiful, peaceful respite. There are interesting walks and cycle routes all over. The big activities are in other-than-human nature, since the principal human activity was the now dilapidated Fort Hancock.
Beach plums bloom wildly in the spring, promising unlimited jams and jellies. Menhadens litter the beach. Perhaps a school was attacked by bluefish, or seabirds? Ospreys circle overhead, in flocks of four or more, a pattern that I’d never seen before. The tides move inexorably, but the whitecaps come and go as the wind keeps changing. The Raritan bay side and the Atlantic ocean side each have their distinctive character.
The isolation and calm aren’t for everyone. Sarah Patterson was appointed Assistant Keeper of the Lighthouse in 1867. She assisted her brother, Charles Patterson, who was Head Keeper and tended the lighthouse from 1861 to 1885. She complained about what seemed monotonous to her:
…I get homesick…I can only look at sand and water [here]. We can’t hardly tell whether its spring or not… [because] it is always one thing here; the sand and cedars never change.Sarah Patterson Johnson in a letter to her father at the family farm in Howell Township, NJ
Sarah never knew that the beach season would disrupt the calm of Sandy Hook starting each June. I imagine that it’s quite different then. Huge parking lots, A through M, imply hundreds of cars, beach parties, loud music, frisbees, dogs, and raucous times.
The summer could offer a fun adventure, but I’ll settle for quiet interrupted only occasionally by the warning horn of the ferry approaching the nearby dock, gorgeous sunsets and sunrises over the water, and sand and cedars that actually change all the time.