I have always enjoyed brisk walks of two to four miles a day for exercise, particularly since I am too lazy or unmotivated to run. Being retired now and with the needle on the scale consistently hovering slightly over 200 pounds for the first time in my life, walking has become an obsession.
Sometimes I look for a deviation beyond my Sayville neighborhood. Recently, I drove to Robert Moses State Park and walked on the boardwalk past the Fire Island Lighthouse to Kismet, a walk of about a mile and a half that I’d done several times in the past with my family.
The temperature was around 50, and the walk was pleasant. Still, I was surprised at the relatively large number of cars parked at Field 5. But it is March, and perhaps spring and cabin fevers are taking hold.
Breathing in the good salt air, I began my trek. A lady passed me in the other direction. Her sweatshirt said, “Winter sucks.”
I smiled, and she smiled back.
“I like your shirt,” I told her.
“It’s true,” she replied.
I guess she also couldn’t wait to get outside on a mild day in late winter.
Farther up the boardwalk, a gentleman stared at a deer standing only about 10 feet away.
“She’s beautiful,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “They are a little scrawny this time of year.”
The animal had its dull winter coat, a greyish brown, blending in with the brush. Nature takes no breaks; it simply adapts to the seasons.
When I got to the lighthouse, I needed a bathroom stop. I was a little surprised it was open. I made small talk with the gent sitting at the desk.
“Lot of people out today,” he said. “People don’t realize how pretty it is this time of year.”
“I love the solitude,” I said.
To me, Fire Island, with its rugged beauty and quiet character, is most scenic in the offseason. You realize you’re in a special place. The lighthouse, whose stairs I have climbed many times with my boys, the boardwalk, the sandy walk down the road to Kismet, and the rumble of the ocean all provide a meditative backdrop.
“Gotta batten down the hatches,” the man said as I left. “Nor’easter hitting tomorrow.”
“Good luck,” I said.
“We’ll be fine; we always make it through,” he said, smiling.
I then walked the hard-sand road to the hamlet of Kismet, which is sleepy this time of year. In the offseason, everyone seems friendlier; people passing in cars and bicycles wave and smile. There is a sense of belonging.
In the summer, Fire Island is so crowded, and everyone seems too busy to acknowledge each other as individuals. In March, we seem to stop and appreciate the same things.
In Kismet, I made a right turn down a side street, walking until I climbed a staircase to a plateau overlooking the ocean. Before heading back to Robert Moses, I savored the simple joy of seeing the Atlantic — and realized again how much I enjoy living on Long Island.
Reader Jerry Giammatteo lives in Sayville.