Clammer at Dawn, Orient Harbor

The image was caught a week ago, on a morning that found us scurrying across to the ferry at Orient Point. For us, this involves first taking the pair of ferries across Shelter Island (where I invariably fight off the urge to linger). Once on the North Fork, we were in a rush because of our reservation, but there was just enough time for pictures.

The view south from this spot is one of open bays and hundreds of preserved acres. To the left is the prominent sliver of Orient Beach State Park–the largest tract of preserved land on the North Fork,  and a place with surprisingly dense stands of prickly pear cactus (perhaps Long Island’s Baja). Further afar are the heights of Ram Island, and the pebbly bluffs of Cedar Point in East Hampton. The  view from this beach, particularly if you include the water, adds up to a lot of open space by anyone’s standards.

I’ve kayaked to these spots on many occasions, trips which I’ve mostly taken alone (not always wise) on my trusty 17′ Capella. The morning I took this picture it was warm enough to slide a boat into the shallows, and the bay was rosy and luminous–as calm as a well-fed infant. I took some pictures, but the kayaking was going to have to wait for another day.

It’s comforting to know there are many similar estuaries up and down the coast– the unpopulated bays at the end of sandy roads, the little-known tidal creeks, and the many salt marshes being nursed back to health by caring people.

Perhaps these are not places that meet the legal definition of wilderness, but pay that no mind. They are places of solitude that own the word “east”.

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