By MARGARET MENDEL
It’s smack-dab in the middle of summer. New York City is miserably hot and sticky. And lately I’ve been writing so much my brain has gone numb. Even though my latest projects have been exciting and fun, enough is enough. Right now I’m waiting for the publisher to return the final revision of my latest novel PUSHING WATER. Then several days ago I sent a collection of short stories to my publisher. Yeah, time for a break. I am tired. It is summertime and I want to play. So we headed out of town, planning to spend some time at the beach to kick back and cool off.On our first day, we traveled an hour east to a harbor community. We walked around the town, did a bit of window shopping. I could feel my body and mind slowly unwinding. Walking along the dock soothed my soul, the rhythmic sound of water lapping against the piers was like ancient music to my ears.
The smell of salty air soothes me the same way that eating comfort food satisfies my soul when I’m disheartened or sad. My breathing also changes when I’m near the ocean. I take deeper breaths and I experience the sea breeze as though I had just emerged from a primal sea and I’m taking in deep lungfuls of a familiar briny spray as though for the first time.Ah, but woman does not live on ocean breezes alone. It was lunch time. We were hungry. Checking out a few places, we decided on an eatery that had soft-shelled crab on the menu, not just soft-shell crab sandwiches, but a BLT soft-shell crab sandwich. These luscious crabs are only available from May through September. Though I’ve cook them several times already this year, I couldn’t resist what sounded like a fantastic treat.
Soft-shell crab is a culinary term for crabs that have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft and the entire crab, except for the head, stomach and lungs, can be eaten. Oh my, when cooked properly, they are succulent and juicy. And this BLT was definitely not a disappoint.For the next couple of days the temperature hung around the high 90’s. Several times fog rolled in, cooling the air slightly, though it was still sultry. The air was so thick with salty moisture that one day when I licked my lips they tasted like I’d been drinking a Margarita from a glass rimmed in kosher salt.One day we scurried into a waterfront joint when the weather threatened to turn nasty. Heavy dark, storm clouds rolled in. Seagulls glided across the inlet water, squawking at each other, while boats rhythmically teetered in their dockage.While we waited out the storm we dined on crispy fried squid with two delicious sauces to choose from, one a standard Italian red sauce and the other was a delightfully spicy Thai sauce. A glass of wine, the excitement of an incoming storm, it doesn’t get much better than this.What had promised to be a raucous coastal storm eventually turned into a fantastically vibrant shock of light cascading down from the sky. No rain, no wind, only a wonderfully relaxing afternoon. A slow walk along the shore in the sunset topped the day off just right. A few more days like this and I’ll be ready to get back to writing.