Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Southampton Snow Fences

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On the winter beach – snow fences follow the shoreline. They stretch out, disappearing from sight as the shores curves away – only to reappear as you continue to follow them. The hard pack that is now the boardwalk is somewhat slippery. We have to walk single file following the slim beaten down path. But, that’s to be expected. Its cold on the lakefront. And there is always a wind. 

As soon as the season advances into the New Year, the winds whip up sand and snow and drop it wherever it wants. Which is the reason for the fences. Snow fences do their best to contain nature’s attempts at rearranging the beach. 

The fences appear every November, red strips of wood lashed to hammered in iron T-Bars, all the way from the Big Flag past Cherry’s Fries. Where the dunes lie, 4×8 sheets of solid plywood line both sides of the berms in an effort to protect the beach grass against the sandpaper effect of the merciless wind. 

Snow fences stretch across the entrances of boarded-up summer beach homes and cottages. The owners put them there to keep out the sand-saturated snow. There’s less to dig out when they return for another season – at least that’s the comfort they take with them back to the city or down south.

In the smalls bays the waves assault the shore with a relentless, repetitive boom. They bring in tiny bits of driftwood, detritus from the lake, to edge the sand with a dirty dark brown outline. Soon the bigger driftwood will come. And the fenced in beach will look wild and untamed. So much more different than in the summer.

One wonders, come spring, how much good the snow fences do. When the snow melts  winter’s work is finally revealed. Sand lies in piles everywhere…on the boardwalk burying the benches…on the paths leading up to the summer residences….around the flagpole and up onto the very bottom of High Street…winter dunes that ignored the porous snow fences and restructured the shoreline.  

Nature does what wants. And for that, you can’t fault the snow fences.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

November 23, 2008 at 8:47 PM

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