“This is why we live here”

    Around 6:30 p.m. yesterday, the glow coming through my windows let me know that the sunset golden hour was peaking with incredible colors. 

    So I quickly grabbed my fleece jacket (in mid-September, the temperature drops rapidly just before sunset) and iPhone and walked about 100 feet to my friend’s house.

    He lives directly on the beach and has a second-level deck, affording sweeping panaromic views of the dunes, beach, and ocean. 

    Always like a little kid chasing an ice cream truck, I quickly ran up the steps and started shooting images. This angle, that angle, every angle. 

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Shoot. Take it all in for a moment. Shoot. Inhale. Exhale. Shoot. Enjoy. Repeat. 

    There’s nothing much better.

    An ethereal experience? Always.

    After about five minutes, I had a keeper image: a golden hue illuminating a portion of a grassy dune separated by the boardwalk leading up to the beach, while the area just to the north is darkened by a shadow; the almost full moon rising; and, a nearly perfect wave breaking near the shore.

    Usually I’ll walk down to the water, but I was hungry, and just wanted to order Chinese takeout. 

    As soon as I walked the 30 seconds back to my house, my photographer friend, Ben Currie, left a comment on the “money image” just posted on Instagram.

    “Justin walk to the waters edge for a huge surprise,” he wrote.

    My vision of steam rising from a styrofoam container overstuffed with sesame chicken and fried rice would have to wait.

    So instead of walking, this time, I ran the 150 feet to the beach walkway, increased my speed along the boards, and then sprinted to the water once I hit the sand, already quickly losing its daytime heat. 

    “Ahhhhh, what the hell was that,” I asked myself, as I felt a warm, slimy substance on my left foot.

    Bird poop.

    “Oh well, it’s good luck.”

    Continuing the quick run to the shoreline — it’s not the seemingly mile-wide Wildwood beach — I knew exactly what Ben was talking about.

    A large shelf had formed, and the breakers were smashing against it during high tide. There was very little actual shoreline. Rapid erosion. 

    The other surprise was how perfect the lighting was at that exact moment: a multi-colored sky rising up from the horizon (pink, orange, yellow, and light blue) and reflecting back along the tiny bit of glistening shoreline, appearing like an oil slick. The layered sky colors were becoming more profound with every passing moment. 

    Adding in the waves splashing against the cliff, seagulls flying by, and the ascending moon, I had just one thought.

    “This is why we live here.”

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal