My family's land is beautiful, and being only about half a mile inland, on a quiet night you can hear the surf crashing down on the beach in North Bay. Even so, I remain more than a little jealous of those folks who have managed to snap up a piece of waterfront property. To wake up and see the sea in your front yard, to watch the sun set over the other dusky blue humps and take a moonlit stroll on the shore at a minute's notice? That would be a bit of all right, all right.

Every winter, I tend to get a bit restless at some point and take off from home for a walk that usually ends in a bit of light trespassing. Our sweet but short warmer months tend to attract a lot of vacationers in the summer whose houses then stand empty for the better part of the year, and it's pretty irresistible to go peeping at the windows of some of these places now and then. They run the gamut from multi-story, sterile monstrosities to cozy little cabins--the one pictured above being my very favorite and of the latter variety. Built decades ago by relatives of one of the oldest families on the island, it has everything you could ever need to live a comfortable, quiet life: a bedroom, a loft, a modern gas range and hand-operated water pump in the kitchen, a wood stove for heating, a beach-combed collection of delicately salted shells and other pale detritus, and a piano. And, a huge set of windows facing a wild, watery, ever-changing amphitheatre. I fantasize that some day I will have the means and the opportunity to buy, or even just rent it for a week...but until then, it's the art of the snoop for me.

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