Monday, September 5, 2016

The Power and the Glory

Hermine tracked by

Hermine was stagnated off the Northeast. Tropical storm warnings had been issued from Virginia to New England; at the very least erosion and riptides lay in the offing. However on Sunday of the Labor Day week the sun was shining in the town of East Hampton. In fact, contrary to some earlier reports the weather was particularly gorgeous. Nevertheless residents of the resort community lined up on Main Beach occupying benches and tables in front of the gray shingled snack bar famous for its freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and clam chowder to watch the rising waters. The onlookers gazed out with the serenity that derives from watching an increasingly angry sea. It was the kind of scene that merited the talents of a nineteenth century painter like Thomas Eakins who captured the community of emotion surrounding emblematic events. Thomas Struth who photographs museum goers looking at paintings might also have made something of the mesmerizing effect the churning tides were having on the assembled crowd. At one point the iconic white lifeguard's chair was shifted from its normally secure position and a gaggle of strong young bodies immediately raced out onto the sands, turning the cumbersome structure on its side, then effortlessly portaging it further inland as if it were an aluminum canoe. Going to the beach is generally a selfish pursuit aimed at satisfying the "oceanic feeling." However, what was going on Sunday morning on Main Beach was a little closer to worshippers reciting the Lord's Prayer, a mile or two down the road at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. People were experiencing the kind of awe that’s manifest when nature’s power and glory are imminent.

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