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Hanging Onto a Piece of the American Dream

Now I can't imagine my Aunt Barbara without Uncle Jim. I first got to know him during "my week." And, instead of New Jersey, wed be spending our time at Uncle Jim's family's camp on Long Island. It was along the bluffs of Robins Island, as we raced along the water in small Sailfish that I came to know and love my Uncle Jim. The sea breeze and salty spray in my face made my world seem a different place.

Evenings and rainy days in the little cabin gave us great opporunities to build relationship--and memories. The "cabin rule" has always been no electronic entertainment of any kind allowed. And so generations of children enjoyed hours of card and board games with my aunt and uncle.

Uncle Jim was also an invaluable source of information on the beach, where I preferred to spend most of my time. He was the authority on ocean life and I quickly learned to identify the different kinds of crabs, snails, fish and seabirds. Over the years, I have passed that knowledge along to my children as we walked the same beach.

The private beach is a rare gem. It is busy enough on the weekends when some of the neighbors fly in on their sea planes or helicopters, but during the weekdays it is virtually empty. During our stay I ran for an hour on the beach every morning from 7:30 to 8:30. Never did I see more than a couple of people during that entire time. One morning the only living creatures I saw were an osprey, some piping plovers and lesser terns fishing for their breakfasts-- myriad splashes attesting to the abundance of choice--and a whitetailed deer meandering along the water's edge.

A little more than a mile down the beach the Elizabeth Morton National Wildlife Refuge stretched out for another mile of completely uninhabited land, no doubt adding to the abundance of wildlife in and out of the ocean. I have made an annual trek out through the refuge to the point on Jessup's neck where Little Peconic Bay mergers with Noyack Bay.

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