“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon …. the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James, 1843-1916
Of course it’s a wonderful time and I know that; I’m on my seventy-ninth. I began summers growing up on the beaches of Absecon Island. As a bonus my parents rented our Margate home to Philadelphians and we moved to a boat house on pilings on the thorofare in Ventnor. I spent hot and hazy summer days catching minnows to sell to fishermen for twenty-five cents a dozen.
Yes, warm breezes on hot sand; the sound of waves breaking, lulling one to sleep; the cries of the gulls; and maybe even a gin and tonic with sunset. But for a photographer there is a paucity of pixel possibilities. The soporific days make me reluctant to take up the camera and click a shutter. Pearl’s got it right.
The scenes of a summer afternoon abound, enjoyable just watching others enjoy them.
The clouds in the above scene reminded me of N.C. Wyeth’s beach giant, pictured below, a favorite of mine since my friends, Buz and Dave, gave us a print years ago. For me it evokes memories of childhood on the beach and fantasies in the clouds. Wyeth painted the scene here in my summer hometown, Beach Haven, in 1923 and the original hangs at the Westtown School for whose class of 1910 Wyeth created the painting. The five children on the right are N.C.’s children, including the blond headed Andrew. The child on the left is thought to be William Engle, a close friend of Wyeth’s who tragically succumbed to tuberculosis as a young man. Engle’s uncle, Robert, built the long-gone Engleside Hotel in Beach Haven in 1876, and young William worked there several summers.
I’m frequently struck by the gathering of flip-flops, left here as their owners walk on to the beach. I’ve always felt sorry for the flip-flops never actually getting onto the beach. The occurrence of single “flops” is also interesting.
If they did make it to the beach here’s what they’d get to enjoy.