The sunís shining out of a perfect blue sky, with little white fluffy clouds here and there, just like candy-floss. There are mallards swimming, ducking Ė up-tails all! The sandís white and smooth Ė itís neatly swept every morning; and when you go into the water to paddle, and you can see the minnows darting through the shallows.
Barefoot children run to and fro, laughing, or play ball-games on the sand; their parents are sitting contentedly in the sun drinking root beer or Coca-Cola, keeping just half an eye on them. The pleasure-boats call at the pier, waiting for a few laggards Ė run, run; donít be late!
Lap, lap, lap, goes the water on the shore of the lake behind me.
The opposite side is lined with a jumble of buildings. Thereís a bistro, a village shop, the Boardwalk Bakery Ė ĎEat More Wheat!í Ė where you can buy donuts, Danishes, and the best cappuccino in town. Itís Latin dance night, with salsa lessons, at the Dance Hall, whose 1930s lettering and balconies are reflected in the water. Itís very romantic; mom says itís just the kind of place her mom and dad used to go to when they were young. Oh, and if you donít want to go dancing, thereís a clam-bake at the Cape May Café! Tonite and every nite!
The air is filled with the sound of birdsong, and the sound of a band practising. They must be very talented musicians, or else maybe theyíre auditioning: first itís the Beatles, then the Rolling Stones; a few minutes later thereís classical guitar, then jazz piano. I used to play the flute in the school orchestra. I wish I hadnít given it up now.
Itís the end of October.
The sunís shining out of a perfect blue sky. The temperatureís a steady 26 degrees Ė what we used to call a heatwave when we were children, before it began to get so hot. But itís a strong sun, even on overcast days. The local paper, the Tide Tribune, says you should put on lots of sunscreen before you go outside, even if youíre not going out for long.
Thereís a wedding this Sunday evening. Thereís a wedding here almost every day.
The lakeís called Stormalong Bay Ė after a pirate who discovered these parts, apparently, running his ship aground on the shore in a fierce north-easter. The shipís still there, and you can climb up on it. Itís strange, really, because weíre at least 50 miles from the sea, and the waterís fresh.
There are alligators in the water.
In the hotel garden thereís a little frame where you can watch butterflies hatch. One moment theyíre just dried-up little brown balls, the next theyíre beautiful butterflies.
Thatís how I feel here. Reborn.
Even if butterflies only live for a day.
We had dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Iíve never had such good steak.
On the Boardwalk thereís one of those boards with the faces cut out of it where you can take your picture, like at old seaside resorts. My friend Simon and I asked the woman at the village store to take our photograph.
The village store doesnít sell much in the way of provisions. Thereís cornflakes, and tomato ketchup, and tea and coffee, but mainly itís postcards, and soft toys and sweatshirts. And golf clothes, his íní hers.
Apparently there was nothing here nine years ago. Apparently it was just scrubland. It used to be a swamp.
I know I must be dreaming, but this morning, when I set out my deckchair, I could swear the sun was in the same position as when I went in yesterday evening.
It was hard to find our hotel. We drove and drove. All the roads loop round and round, so you end up having a hard time keeping your sense of direction.
But if you get lost, thereís always someone to help you.
Itís a lovely place. Once youíre here, youíll really never want to leave.