It’s 8 p.m. on a wintry Wednesday as I walk from mycar to the dance studio on the lonely corner in the harbor area. It seems asthough the whole town is shut away in their homes, asleep.
The lightsoutside the playhouse have been extinguished for several hours. The warm glowthat once shone from the delicate windows of the harbor shops has faded intodarkness. Swarms of automobiles no longer fight for the coveted parking spacesthat line the narrow streets. The small fleet of fishing boats is docked. Thebells in the steeple of the white church are still. The lighthouse flashes anoccasional unanswered welcome to the ocean. An eerie silence resounds through theharbor, and the lonely streetlights stand boldly against the blackness of thesky.
* * *
It’s 9 p.m. on a humid summerevening. The walk from the small dance studio is a leap onto Broadway. Thetwinkling lights of the playhouse catch my eye, and I pause to read the glowingbillboard that announces the shows.
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Throngs of shorts-clad vacationers amble downthe sidewalk. Children gluttonously grasp their melting ice cream cones whiletheir parents chat enthusiastically about how delicious their meals were at thequaint restaurants.
The doors to the shops are open wide, beckoningvisitors. Voices echo across the water from the boats that crowd the harbor. Themusicians tune up at the bandstand near the marina. The atmosphere is electric,filled with the sounds of light talk, laughter and carefree people.
* * *
I arrive at work promptly at 10 a.m. on a summer morningand search for a parking space in the beach lot. I can see the heat rising fromthe tar. Mobs of out-of-town beach-goers struggle to lug supplies to choicelocations. The locals carry only sunscreen and a towel. The steamy stretch ofsand is already dotted with hundreds camped out for the day. Hordes of childrenscreech as the cool ocean water sweeps over their sand castles. This will mostdefinitely be a long, hard day of lifeguarding.
* * *
It’s 11 a.m. on a winter’s day. I am alone as I walk the beach,clutching my coat. The wind almost takes my breath away with its occasionalfrigid blast. Sea gulls soaring overhead keep their eyes open for a morsel offood to pluck from the sea. The lofty dune grass bends and shines in theintermittent sun. There is no sound but nature. My day is open and free.