This is the time of year when lots of people around South Jersey would just like our calendar pages to just stop right where they are.
It's summer, which is as close to perfection as we get around here - even if, granted, this has not been the perfect summer. They never are, except in the memory, or the imagination.
But no matter how much we might want the calendar to freeze while we're on vacation and on the beach - or while the cash registers are singing happy songs from all those vacationers on the beach - time never stops.
The years keep rolling by, which means we always need new calendars. And that brings us to some calendars that can keep you thinking of your favorite beach long after this year's beach days are over - and when we hit those months when the calendar can't move fast enough for many of us.
The Philadelphia Eagles made a splash the other day when the NFL team released its annual cheerleader calendar with an event in Atlantic City. The Eagles shot the calendar's cheesecake pictures on beaches from Cape May to Atlantic City and beyond - and the team got commendations by announcing it will donate all the net profits from its 2014 calendar to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
But the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium recently put out its own calendar of New Jersey beach pictures - without help from the media magnet of NFL cheerleaders bopping around a beach in bikinis. The Sea Grant's "Making More Shore Memories" calendar features the 12 winners from an online contest that drew almost 1,000 pictures of all kinds of beach scenes from all around the state, says Kim Kosko, a Sea Grant spokeswoman.
The sponsors also are using this calendar as a Sandy fundraiser - Kosko said a dollar from every one sold will go to the same hurricane-relief charity. And because the Sea Grant people are hoping to get these prize-winning pictures into the hands of as many New Jersey beach fans as possible, Kosko announced a special offer the other day on the 9- by-12-inch, full-color calendars:
For the next week, every online order - at njtoptenbeaches.org - will be a buy-one, get-one-free deal. (That's BOGO, to you shopping pros.) The regular price for the calendars is $7 apiece, including shipping and handling. But until Aug. 3, the Sea Grant will send buyers two beach calendars for $7.
And there are some truly striking pictures on these pages.
Take Rick Oliva's shot of a sunset over Little Egg Harbor, the bay at the end of his longtime street in the Holgate section of Long Beach Township. Oliva, a longtime Long Beach Island visitor, shot the red sky at night with a nice glass of red wine in the foreground - a glass that his wife, Jennifer, etched with the letters "LBI." But maybe it's not quite right to call them letters, because the "L" doubles as a boat and that "I" is also a lighthouse.
"She's the genius behind that," said Rick, a 61-year-old salesman who adds Jennifer is a jeweler by trade, and he "just like(s) to fool around with the camera."
But there's also a striking story behind that picture, which decorates the month of October in the Sea Grant calendar. Because the Olivas are Sandy victims themselves - they lost the home they owned in the Long Beach Island Trailer Park in that hurricane, last October.
"It took away a part of us that we'll never get back," said Rick, but he has come to terms with it - despite an ongoing insurance fight.
"It's gone and there's nothing that can be done," he said, because the park's owner decided to go out of business after the storm, rather than do everything needed to rebuild the place in a post-Sandy development environment. The Olivas - their main home is in Clinton, Hunterdon County - have enjoyed a few weekends on LBI so far this summer, including one in a friend's oceanfront home. And they're looking to rent a place for a few weeks in August and September.
Still, Rick says he was thrilled when he heard his arty sunset shot made it into the Sea Grant calendar -in first place, in fact, with more votes than any other picture in the contest.
"I was higher than I'd been since college," he said, with a laugh. "I was so ecstatic that I won."
Plus he likes the ambivalence his picture obviously evokes:
"The wine is half gone," he says. "Or maybe it's half full. I'm not quite sure."
Kelly Hunt, of Hammonton, was also really pumped up when she found out her picture was one of the 12 winners. She was even more excited when she realized her shot - of Margate Beach Patrol rowers Chuck Gowdy and Ashton Funk, going over a wave in the 2011 Margate Memorial lifeguard races - was on the calendar's cover. Three professional photographers who judged the contest agreed it belonged there, Kosko said.
"You were allowed to enter one picture only, and it had to be something that reminded you of the shore," said Hunt, 51, who teaches fourth and fifth graders in Egg Harbor Township. "I thought about it and said, 'The lifeguard races are the shore for us.'"
Her students were excited for her, and so were her colleagues - including Gowdy's mother, Jody, who works at EHT's Miller School with Hunt.
"And that's the second photo contest I've won with a picture of Chuck," said Hunt, who was on her way to take nature pictures one day earlier this week. That first winning photo got noticed, too - the contest was run by an insurance company, "and the picture ended up on a billboard in Camden County," Hunt said.
Elizabeth DeJesus, a nurse from Mays Landing, won the January spot in the Sea Grant’s calendar with her shot of a winter sunset on the Ocean City Boardwalk — a Boardwalk that’s almost empty, except for all the dramatic, golden rays from a sinking sun.
DeJesus works as a nurse in Philadelphia. But when she went looking for a new home a few years ago, it wasn’t to get closer to where she makes her living — it was to put herself where prefers to do her living.
“I moved to Mays Landing about three years ago, just to be closer to the beach and shore,” she said. “I take my family there. I spend as much time there as I can.”
Gerrie Cali, who retired to Brigantine about nine years ago, likes to walk on her local beach, and take her camera with her when she does. But the first photo contest she ever entered was for this calendar — and she won.
“I was absolutely surprised,” she admitted.
Her shot is for next April — the Sea Grant’s calendar started in June and runs through May 2014 — and it features a Jet Ski rider literally flying over a wave in the surf near Cali’s home.
“I have no clue who he was — it was just random,” she said of her prize-winning action shot. “I just happened to be on the beach and he was using his Jet Ski. ... I thought I’d give it a shot.”
A thousand or so people gave beach scenes a shot — and a dozen of the best ended up in this calendar. For all you beach bums out there, that might be a good thing to have around when summer isn’t anymore.