"...because I think it is important to say what you love in this life...
especially if what you love is vulnerable.
And Long Beach Island is that.
It’s just a beautiful accident of tide and
currents, a moment of grace amid storm."
When Superstorm Sandy devastated Long Beach Island, residents and businesses handled the crisis each in their own way, but nearly everyone came together to support each other -- emotionally and physically -- and the community bonded in an extraordinary way.
For most, a realization took place. It was like an awakening. It was both individual and collective. We discovered (or re-discovered) how much we love this place, its people, its familiar rituals, and how important it is in our lives.
Sandy Gingras, a prolific author and owner of the “How To Live” gift shops in Beach Haven and Surf City, felt and thought all of this and her immediate instinct was to write. She distilled those raw and powerful emotions into a prose-poem-letter and called it "A Love Song for Long Beach Island." It celebrated the qualities of the Island that are deeply-felt and that matter.
She had ridden out the storm in Holgate and Beach Haven, and was then displaced for weeks. When allowed back on the island, she painted her words on a big piece of plywood. She propped it up in the window of her Beach Haven store, which was a flooded mess, and went about the hard work of cleaning, repairing, and and re-opening.
People stood in front of that store window, reading, sometimes crying, sometimes taking pictures of the “love song.” It struck a chord, true and soulful, and resonated deeply with Long Beach Islanders.
This illustrated gift book, I Love You Long Beach Island, was derived from that simple and spontaneously-painted plywood board, and the book breathes life into these words. Like many of her gift books, it is sweet and touching, and filled with charming watercolors, but on other levels it is spiritual and prayerful. Written as an intimate love letter to the Island, it begins, “my old friend…”