I spent several summers as a kid attending Erich’s Day Camp. The Camp occupied an “island” just off the shore, near the Momauguin section of Branford, CT. And I mean just off shore… maybe 50 yards from the “mainland”. The official name of the Island was Kelsey’s Island and it sat where the East Haven River entered Long Island Sound.
As a little kid, when we crossed that tiny channel I thought we were leaving England heading for the beaches of Normandy. This illusion was helped by the barges that were used to transport a clutch of little kids from one shore to another. At another time these vessels served in the Navy, transporting small cargo from ship to shore.
There were many happy sunny days on that Island (Erich’s Island, to me). Swimming, basketball, softball, horseshoes, hide-and-seek & other invented games long forgotten.
I no longer remember the rainy days. But I do remember good days, special days when the morning sun remained hidden by an encompassing fog.
Erich’s was unique among Day Camps of the time. No programmed activities… you did what you wanted to, when you wanted to do it & there was always supervised adult help as necessary. And on mornings when we were socked-in by fog, I would head for the bouldered shore that edged the channel. There, I would find a nook between the rocks that offered a sheltered observation post to the mouth of the river.
Not that I could see anything.
The water lay flat and still. A thick blanket of fog dropped to the water line. I could hear small motors putter as the occasional boat slowly moved down the channel. Their path would spread ripples of water lapping to the base of the rocks, and gently moving the tall strands of sea grass.
And on a foggy morning, this much was perfectly clear… everything I experienced sitting on those rocks became magnified. Particularly sound.
The sound of bobbing boats at anchor reverberated against the moisture particles that filled the air. I could hear the cry of the gull further along the shore. An emphatic voice declaring its presence… maybe helping a buddy find its way, or more than likely telling a competitor to stay clear.
There was a loneliness, and there was a deep comfort in that enveloping mist. For someone who loved the sun as much as I did, I wanted to beat back its inevitable emergence. Keep at bay the sun, the humidity and white sky of a July day. Let me remain, for a brief time, cushioned in the damp air.
The sun would return. And return in full vigor, the soothing fog yielding to heat and a bright sky. The muted sounds of the channel would give way to the definitive clank of the horseshoe pit.
A place where Clay Gillette and I reigned supreme.
On one of many good days…