The population swells from Memorial Day to Labor Day as the summer people and tourists flood in by car, limousine, motorcycle, helicopter, jet, train, boat, bicycle, backpack. It’s already bad every weekday morning and afternoon as the trade parade flows in and out for work. Full time residents complain about the traffic. They jockey for position on Highway 27, the main artery, with Maserati’s and luxury Range Rovers or for a parking space in the parking lot at the Commons or while waiting in the check out line at the grocery store or their favorite restaurant. Some people take up two spaces with one car. They either feel entitled or they don’t know how to drive. Driving can be as competitive and as dangerous as Destruction Derby, including the carnage. Timing is everything. I try to get to the grocery store early and gas up my car late at night. This influx of tourism brings a booming seasonal commerce but with a price. Along with the crowds, there is an upside, if you want to call it that. All these people coming here spend money on the local economy. A good thing. There’s also the prestige of having a second home here. The phenomena of mega mansions have created thousands of jobs, apparent by the daily traffic that brings in an army of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, crews of landscapers, swimming pool service companies, driveway pavers, tennis court builders, fence builders and so on, all driving to and from work 6 or 7 days a week. But all this construction has marred the landscape and the popularity of finding a summer rental or second home has inflated real estate values. Unfortunately the next generation of locals won’t be able to afford to stay here. They’re priced out already. A not particularly nice looking 1,500 sq’ house on .6 acres down the street is for sale, asking price $1.25M. Three acres down the other way is $12.5M. It’s crazy! If I had that much money I’d be living on my own private island in Maine or the Caribbean. But as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em…” make them your customers. A friend, artist, illustrator and surfer @peterspacek has silkscreened onto a t-shirts over the image of a great white shark, Respect The Locals. And like Peter, who has a best selling line of products and art, I see empty wall space as the houses go up, just right for one or more of my paintings. The East End may have lost some of it’s charm in recent times, the rents on Main Street may have gone thru the roof and the landscape may be filling up with houses but it is still a beautiful place to live.
I look for places to paint where I can get away from the noise of the summer. I seek out these places to find a little solace. A rutted out one lane dirt road takes me to Barcelona Point. Anyone can find it but very few try. The view can be rewarding but it’s not for everyone. If you’re going there to relax or enjoy the tranquility of the view be prepared. Bring your DEET. The no-see-um, a tiny little bloodsucking sandfly is vicious. It swarms around biting any body part exposed. They leave tiny whelps that itch for days, especially on your head, biting into your scalp. Wearing a straw hat is like putting a chain link fence around your porch to keep the mosquitoes out. Once they descend even bug spray is ineffective. They go for the eyes, nostrils, ear canals, any place on your skin not covered with Deet. Even a track star can outrun them. After you’ve been chased off and when you get home strip down and give yourself a serious once over with a magnifying glass for the East End’s most notable parasite. As soon as it starts to warm up millions of tiny deer ticks start crawling around with one mission, to find a host. They are experts at attaching themselves to anything walking by and difficult to notice, about the size of a small freckle, until it’s too late. If you’re not careful you’ll end up like I did, in the ER with a fever and chills. 2-3 weeks of doxycycline and no going out in the sun for more than a few minutes without getting an awful sunburn, a reaction to the med. Hopefully this warning will keep you away. These pests keep me at bay as well but they haven’t seem to stop me. It’s May 1st and I’ve already had three tick bites. Hopefully I found and removed them in time. And now there’s a new tick in town, the Lone Star Tick. Es muy malo! y muy agresivo!
Depending on the time of day or direction of the wind I’ll stay and work at Barcelona as long as possible. The tranquil beauty of the place always draws me back. In spring the grasses around Northwest creek aren’t fully grown and the place has a leftover winter feel. Things aren’t as green and lush as summer. The bugs aren’t as bad. By May the sun comes up at 6am and has a soft glow that has drawn artists out here to live and work for over a century. The light is part moisture in the atmosphere part peninsular reflection from the surrounding waters. I’m sure I’ve done a dozen paintings at Barcelona Point. Some small studies and others on a canvases that are about as large as I can fit into the back of my car. I’ll probably try it again while the weather is good and the wind is just right.