On Sagaponack beach, a mother and a son eye the crest of
the wave and then the curve it leaves on the sand. The
pebbles shimmer, washed over by the water. The boy picks
up a stone and finds it shimmers less once it is in his hand.
Surprised, he asks his mother why. “The water brings out
the pebble’s shine in the light of the sun” – the mother says.
The boy casts the pebble away and jumps onto the dancing
shadow of his mother’s flowery dress billowing in the wind,
as if to keep it in place. The shadow escapes from under his
They come upon a piping plover which shies away and runs
toward the dune. The mother points to the bird’s bright
orange feet that have turned from their normal yellow
during breeding time. The boy finds the change in the color
of the feet strange. On top of a dune owned by the Whites,
who have been potato farmers for generations, a man sits
staring out to sea. The mother says to the boy: “Look, Peter,
that man on the dune is John Steinbeck. A great writer.
Remember this figure.”
As they do every year, that day, in the late afternoon, they
get ready to visit a bush that blooms for only one day.
Today, after several decades and many storms, the
Sagaponack dune sits much closer to the ocean. On the