A report on the radio informed me that the price of houses across the United States has risen by 15 percent during the pandemic. I was not surprised to learn that in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, where we live, prices have gone up an astonishing 40 percent. We in fact get solicitations from real estate agents, either by phone or in the mail, nearly every week about our 2,000-square-foot home. Since more and more people can work from home, the market is, as they say, red hot. Notes have even been left in our mailbox from eager buyers inquiring whether we might be thinking of selling and, if we are, to please call them. On occasion we have been tempted, but the prospect of sorting out all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the past forty years is too daunting. We also seem to lack the entrepreneurial gene.
The wealthy suburban towns in Fairfield County are also famous for “knockdowns.” People with more money than they know what to do with will buy a multi-million-dollar house, only to tear it down and build an even more lavish one on the property. This is especially true for shoreline estates. Someone is in the process of doing precisely this on a choice piece of land adjacent to a small town beach where I go to walk, sit, read, or just gaze at what F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby called “the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound.” Fitzgerald lived near a town beach in Westport, Connecticut, before writing The Great Gatsby, and there are those who contend that Westport, not Long Island, provided the inspiration and material for the novel. There is even a plaque acknowledging this pedigree outside the house the Fitzgeralds rented in Westport in 1920.
The beach I visit attracts a somewhat eccentric crowd. There is a group of older men and women who swim in the sound, without wetsuits, well into November, something I admire but find impossible to contemplate. Every half-hour or so, if you are attentive, you can glimpse one of the Bridgeport-to-Port Jefferson ferries making its way across the sound, just a dot of dazzling white on the eastern horizon.