Written By Erin Toland

It's 4 am on Sunday morning, the windows in my house are steamy from the warm air and fog that rolled in after a week of rain. I can smell the salt from the Long IslandSound which sits just across the street from my house. I'm drinking my coffee and carefully paying attention to the light in the sky brightening ever so slightly by the minute. I wait patiently for that first hint of color that hits the clouds from the sun that I hope to see this morning. When I get a glimpse of that pink hue breaching the horizon,I'll grab my camera and my dog and walk down to the beach for what I can only describe as a spiritual experience; a sunrise on the North Shore.

Let me back up for a second. I grew up in the small, New England style town called Northport. A picturesque little hamlet that seems to have gone perfectly unchanged since my parents grew up here in the 50s. Due to unfortunate life events, I had to leave here when I was 14, but my heart was forever bound to it. I always knew I would comeback.

Northport is one of those towns where you still see kids on their bikes, baseball gear slung over their shoulders, heading to play a game with their friends. A town where the ice cream trucks drive around the neighborhoods promptly at 3 pm, calling to kids with the same anthem I would run out to when I was young. A town where I can go to the local diner for breakfast and sit on the same stool my mom sat at when she was a kid.There's a nostalgia here that is so rich and tactile, you can feel it even if you didn't grow up here.

Fast forward twenty-two years later, with a husband and a dog and an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was still pining to get back to Northport, still dreaming of all of those childhood details so vividly stuck in my brain. I introduced Northport to my husband during that time, making trips out to the Island from the city, only an hour and a half train ride away. He fell in love with the town in his own way, as much as someone who didn't have the same emotional connection to it can. Every day I searched for a house in Northport that would fit our needs and our budget. Finally, after years of searching it appeared, and it was on the same street I grew up on.

It seemed too magical to be real. I dragged my husband from work, jumped on the LIRR and b-lined for my dream house. Upon arrival, I knew immediately this was our house, this is the one I had been waiting for. We made an offer that day and set in motion anew chapter of our lives filled with memories of the past.

I've been back in Northport for two beautiful years now and those butterflies I used to get when visiting are still ever present. I love this little town with all my heart. Everything about it is enchanting to me, from the Saturday morning farmer's market in town to the decades-old Fireman's Fair. But I find the most joy in the quiet moments I spend looking out over Long Island Sound, thanking God and the universe for bringing me back here.

It is now 5 am and I can see the light from the sun begin to illuminate the clouds. The birds are singing their morning song, beckoning me to head out into the world. I give my dog a nod and she knows it's time to go on our early morning adventure. I grab my camera and the leash and head out the door, and when I close it behind me I feel a sense of peace because I know I get to come back. I know that when we've finished our wonderful morning walk, I get to walk back up the hill, and head home.

Follow Erin on Instagram. (all photos captured by Erin)


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