The Time Is Right, Now

In the age-old quest for a key to unlock the mysteries of how life works, one of the most popular axioms is that timing is everything.

At the risk of being seen as persnickety, At Quaquanantuck, perhaps not surprisingly, finds this formula imprecise. After all, timing is only one thing, and no one thing can be everything. In terms of blanket statements, better perhaps to say that timing can make all the difference.  

Case in point: At Quaquanantuck has been considering for quite awhile when would be the right time to reintroduce a suggestion from a few years back about improving environmental consciousness and responsibility at the Quogue Association. The celebration of Earth Day at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge last weekend seemed like a cue to get something into this week’s column; and then the Quogue Association’s 2019 membership appeal arrived in my inbox, with the date of this year’s Duck Race: Sunday, July 14.

And so, while it may not be everything, the timing seems fortuitous—for a number of reasons.

Spring wind. —A. Botsford Photo

Since its founding almost 70 years ago, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Quogue Association is one of the pillars atop which so much of the beauty of living in this hallowed village resides. Ever true to the mission of fostering the general welfare of the village and preserving its character as a desirable and attractive residential community, several generations of volunteers have, among much, taken on an array of landscaping and beautification projects and published the attractive and informative Village of Quogue booklet. They have also sponsored and organized  the annual Village Beach party (this year on Friday, August 9; rain date 8/16); the aforementioned annual Duck Race; the State of the Village address by Mayor Peter Sartorius; and the State of the Town address by the Southampton Town Supervisor.

In addition, along with numerous other good works, the Association annually awards a college scholarship to a Quogue School graduate; periodically honors community leaders with the Quogue Bowl; assisted with the restoration of the anchor of the Nahum Chapin that sits in front of the library; and donated a beautiful new clock to complement the gazebo at the Village pond area across from the Firehouse.

The members of the Association have always focused all their substantial energy, without fear or favor, on enhancing the quality of life and the overall experience of living in or visiting Quogue. All those who care about this village and are grateful for the blessing of full or part-time residency hereabouts should be members. For those who are already on the rolls, annual membership expires in March each year, and all those who have not already done so should renew their memberships now. The annual fee is a mere $40 per individual or family; applications are available by clicking here, visiting, or tucked inside the Village of Quogue booklets available in the foyer of the Village Office.

Deer feeder
Bird feeder? —Judy Gruhn Photo

 That’s the windup; here’s the pitch:

Across our beleaguered planet, just as the already woefully ineffective and insufficient recycling of paper, glass and plastic is shrugging to a halt, numerous studies are revealing the bottom-to-top presence of microplastic particles in the oceanic and terrestrial food chain, the result of waste plastic breaking down (while never biodegrading) all around the world. Given the call to action that these studies represent, isn’t it time for the Quogue Association to rethink the practice of buying hundreds of plastic ducks for the annual race, only to dispose of all that are recovered afterward and buying hundreds more the following year?duck

Would changing the system require more labor up and down the line? Of course. In one scenario, Association volunteers would first have to number all the ducks. At Quaquanantuck doesn’t know how many ducks are racing every year, but a numbering system of A1 to A99, B1 to B99, and so on through the alphabet to O99 would yield about 1,500 ducks, if that many were needed. Then the volunteers and shopkeepers distributing the ducks would have to note the names of buyers and the numbers of the ducks they purchase. On race day, the numbers of the winning ducks could be checked against the names, and prizes awarded.

Thanks to Quogue Association board members like Mike Nelson, the director of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and other volunteers, there is already a recovery network in place, so all the ducks gathered afterward could be recycled for “purchase” again the following year, with the Association having to buy and number only enough duck-shaped pieces of plastic to replace the few that invariably go missing over the course of the race.

Is it a perfect system? Of course not; it’s only one idea to get the creative minds of the Quogue Association volunteers thinking of possible alternatives to the unfortunate practice of adding hundreds of ducks annually to the planet poisoning plastic waste stream.

In addition to constituting a major fundraiser for the Quogue Association, the annual duck race is a wonderful event, and the occasion for a lovely gathering and celebration of community spirit. At Quaquanantuck hopes the relatively recent tradition will continue for many years to come.

By virtue of all its good works, the Association has earned our expectation that it will take the lead—along with village government, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and others—in responsible stewardship of the environment and best practices in preserving our spectacular natural resources. Making the duck race more environmentally friendly will no doubt be a challenge, but it is one that, working together, the forward thinking people of our village can tackle. The time is right, now.

First Coastal Corporation sponsored a bat house and bird house building station, left, at the Earth Day celebration at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. Right, members of the Shinnecock Nation offered a song and drumming in honor of Mother Earth at the  celebration. —Photos courtesy of QWR

Natural Sounds Concert at Quogue Wildlife Refuge
As an offshoot of the Rites of Spring Festival, which offers “classical concerts in extraordinary places on the North Fork of Long Island,” the Four Winds Trio and environmental artist Tonito Valderrama will present a Natural Sounds concert at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m.

The members of the Four Winds Trio—Ray Anderson, Giovanni Perez, and Jay Rozen—will offer a live performance to complement a “nature art installation” by Mr. Valderrama. The intention of this multi-dimensional event is to enable the public to be in touch with nature while creating tactile and acoustic participative art.

Tickets are $10 for students age 13 to 18, $25 for adults; available by clicking here or by visiting snake
Firefighter Nick Guiffre found this small serpent taking up early spring residence at the Quogue Fire Department. QWR Program Director Marisa Nelson identified it as a baby brown snake and showed it to Spring Wildlife campers before releasing it into the woods. —Photo and caption information courtesy of the Big Chill

Safe Boating Course at Library Saturday
Not a lot of information available about the six-hour Safe Boating Course being offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at the Quogue Library’s temporary outpost at the Firehouse on Saturday, May 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

If history is any guide, some kind of certificate will be awarded to all who complete the course. More importantly, a tremendous amount of good information will be imparted on how to stay safe on the water and thus obtain maximum enjoyment—and keep those on shore from excessive worrying.

The fee is $30; call the library at 631-653-4224 for more information and to register.

Sign Up Now for QWR Summer Field Ecology Program 2019
There’s no time like the present to sign up the young folks for one of the nine one-week sessions of the children’s Summer Field Ecology program, which will be marking its 50th anniversary this summer.  

Early signups are encouraged; for more information and signup forms, visit

Wildlife Refuge Seeking Summer Help
With the Summer Field Ecology program on the horizon, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge is now hiring for summer positions and internships. Job openings include: part-time temporary receptionist; summer camp educator for Summer Ecology program; and summer camp educator for Little Naturalists program.

Summer internship positions include: Summer Ecology program educator; Little Naturalists educator; and Nature Center animal care intern. For more information, call the Refuge at 631-653-4771, click here, or visit the  QWR website,

At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email and ask to be put on the mailing list.

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