By Diana Poulos-Lutz


It was gorgeous September morning at Jones Beach West End, with low humidity, brilliant sunshine, and a mild breeze. The Long Island shores are in the midst of a seasonal transition. The summertime protected areas for the piping plovers and nesting terns are no longer present, as most of these birds have begun migrating, and will not return until next year. Still, signs of summertime linger.

A group of different kinds of terns have congregated near the West End jetty, seemingly in a resting spot during their migration journey. Together, this small group of various terns periodically flew above the jetty in unison, and then retreated to the shoreline, resting on the sand. Tree swallows continue to swarm the pathways and dunes for a little while longer, until they reach their destination for the season. Monarch butterflies are scattered throughout the West End. They, too, are migratory. Many of them danced along the shoreline, and found resting spots along the jetty, and on the sand.

The sunshine still provided a comforting warmth, and the consistent and strong breeze was refreshing.  Many of the wondrous sights and sounds of this morning are not unusual for a September day at the West End. Yet, the sounds of the crashing waves were louder and more pronounced than expected. Surfers outnumbered fishermen. The surf was surely putting on a show with high waves, blowing water, and large amounts of sea-foam quickly spilling onto the dry sand.  The unusually large waves crashing onto the jetty, made it precarious for fishermen. However, the surfers and those with recreational watersport vehicles enjoyed the uniquely rough surf.

As an unprecedented number of Floridians evacuated this weekend, due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma, meteorologists have indicated that the Long Island shorelines will experiences large waves and rip-tides into the weekend.  To think that a massive storm, so far away, could produce riptides and rough surf, is humbling.  The ocean water is connected, just as we all are. Yet, conditions of peace and serenity on our shores can occur simultaneously with such destructive weather circumstances somewhere else.  Floods, fires, hurricanes, and human plight have inundated the news in recent weeks. As I smiled at those enjoying the amazing surf on this September morning, I felt a sense of gratitude and introspection. The extreme weather and suffering that we are witnessing is a reminder to care for each other, to always be kind, humble, and generous, and to protection our beautiful planet. In the meantime, on a day like today, the surf was a compelling, urgent call to be fully present in moment, and to rejuvenate ourselves with the peace, joy and fierceness of our shorelines.

More photos on pages 2 and 3