The Pines, as it is presently known, may be just one of a dozen or so towns on the barrier reef three miles south of Long Island. Most would describe it as the premier gay resort in the world. During this holiday season we would call it pure Paradise.
There are no stores open or bars a-blazin', and the nightlife consists of enjoying a walk on the beach and preparing a goose with all the requisite fixings with a friend or two. As a matter of fact, there are neither roads nor vehicles, except for a few stray contractors' carts during the day. The only denizens that we really take note of are the deer.
On Nov. 14, 2011, a huge fire burned a large portion of the downtown. After the first gasp upon seeing the devastation and traipsing around the still-charcoal-smelling ruins, we hardly noticed. It is virtually inevitable that the dance club will rise again come spring, like a phoenix from the ashes, thanks to the hardworking people here.
Here at the beach, the winter-morning sun casts fancy images all through the house, especially when viewed through the ubiquitous bamboo. On this peaceful season the only fire we care about is the one being purposefully created in the wood-burning, potbelly stove. It blasts like a furnace, keeping all of us toasty. Boxer shorts and t-shirts are all that is needed. Even the dogs and cat are attracted to the hearth and gather around it.
Paradise waits on the crest of a wave and the hill of a sand dune. The flora and fauna during this relatively balmy holiday season, and the remoteness of this destination, are especially appreciated and savored by the lucky few who get to call this place home. They say that home is where the heart is. Our heart on this blessed holiday season is right where it needs to be.