As a child I spent my summers on Fire Island in my Grandfather’s four story Victorian “cottage” on the ocean front. He bought it at the turn of the last century in Edith Wharton’s time. Each night during dinner the sun set directly down the center of the window of the dining room. When my Grandfather lived there, even though it was summer, dinner was a formal affair.
By the time my family took over the dining room table, the white linen suits were long gone, replaced by wet bathing suits and bare feet. I sat next to my Dad and on the other side of the table a built-in cabinet was filled with formal pink and white china and Cranberry glassware. We never touched it. Then one summer my mother packed it up and took it home. That winter, in a storm much like this one, the “cottage”, a monument to a bygone era, was washed into the ocean.
The china was never used by my mother, and then she gave it to my brother. It was never used by him either. Last winter, when I visited my brother in Florida, we decided finally to use the china. We took five boxes of dinner plates, luncheon plates, soup bowls, consume bowls, serving plates, tea pots, cups and saucers to the beach. We lay the plates in the sand at the edge of the water. Then the tide began to rise.