Food for Thought

Sometime around the beginning of October, At Quaquanantuck began to notice a slight change in appetite, a small uptick in the amount of food being consumed. At first I put it down to an appreciation for the abundance of fresh, healthy, and delicious produce piled high at local farmstands. But then I realized I was consistently eating three full meals daily, when my typical pattern is to have one at the start of the day and one at the end, with some random snacking in between. 

As October yielded to November, I realized that not only was I eating more at each meal—three times a day—I was actually hungry and looking for things to eat all the time, both before and after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Before resigning myself to the idea that I was not only feeding myself but also the growing tapeworm that I had so often been warned about by teasing adults as a child, I started asking around to see if anyone else was experiencing a noticeable increase in appetite. 

Turns out they were, at least quite a few of them. So after a great deal of pondering and absolutely zero research, we now have the At Quaquanantuck Theory of Astronomy and Appetite.

TGiving Day Peter Prentis
November 28, 2019: Thanksgiving. —Peter Prentis Photo

Consider the history of our species. When bands of early homo sapiens roving in temperate zones noticed that the days were growing shorter and temperatures were dropping after the autumnal equinox, at some point experience merged with instinct and they internalized the idea that game and edible plant life would be scarcer and harder to find in the weeks and months ahead. With survival (and procreation of course) always the top biological imperative for all life forms, this awareness translated into the completely natural urge to load on more calories (while also piling up whatever food could be preserved) against the hard times ahead. 

Add to this the fact that the human body burns more calories adapting to cold temperatures than when dealing with warm weather and there’s another reason for primitive humans to bulk up as the Earth tilts away from the sun and the winter solstice looms. Nowadays, of course, most East End residents don’t have to worry about game being scarce or vegetables and grains hard to come by. But we still share the same DNA as our ancestors of 40,000 years ago, so when summer tips into autumn and the daylight starts to dwindle, our cellular memory and basic survival instinct commands us to take on stores. And, voila!: increased appetite.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whether very young …

Along with the spike in hunger at this time of year, the At Quaquanantuck Theory of Astronomy and Appetite also takes care of the autumn (Thanksgiving) and winter solstice (Christmas, Chanukah, et al) feasting question. In addition to honoring nature’s bounty and showing gratitude for a successful harvest in November, why wouldn’t we organize a holiday feast around the sub rosa and perhaps even subconscious intention of taking on an ungodly number of calories without incurring any judgment for gluttony? And if one takes the Christmas feast to its Anglican extremes, there are 12 days available for celebratory calorie loading, anticipating a season when, in times gone by, comestibles might be few and far between.

… or slightly older …
… or slightly older still: all generations thoroughly enjoyed the annual Thanksgiving weekend pancake breakfast sponsored by the kind souls and generous chefs at the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department. —Craig J. Ferrantino Photos

In the end, all of this renders absurd the idea that thousands upon thousands of people—Americans particularly—will make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, typically by dieting according to all manner of weird protocols and burning calories through rigorous exercise programs. Stop it! Eat up and hold on to that precious fat; it’s what your body wants and needs at this time of year. There’s plenty of time after the vernal equinox to get back your bathing suit body. 

All that’s left now to confirm the astronomy and appetite hypothesis is some anecdotal data on whether or not, in the Southern Hemisphere, appetite increases after March 19, which is the autumnal equinox in those parts. Any readers in residence down there at that time of year are invited to keep At Quanantuck posted. 

Meanwhile, Hunger Is Real
On a much more serious note, while every season of the year is challenging for those who have been forced from their homes—by military conflict and violence, by disasters like Hurricane Dorian or the California wildfires, by poverty and repression—dark winter is by any measurement the absolute worst. 

STone Tide Peter Prentis
Stone Tide. —Peter Prentis Photo

As Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol”: “‘At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,’ said the gentleman, taking up a pen, ‘it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.’”

And, later in the same passage: “‘We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.’” 

Sadly, in the modern world, there are not thousands or hundreds of thousands but many millions around the world who are in want of common necessaries, let alone common comforts. This is why the spirits visited Scrooge on Christmas eve. This is why the New York Times chooses this time of the year for the Neediest Cases series. This is why, every year at this time, the call goes out for those who are able to rejoice in even relative abundance to make some slight provision for those in need everywhere on the planet.

Relief organizations, fortunately, are numerous, and most have websites where making a donation is easy. The best way to honor our blessings and celebrate the true spirit of Christmas is to help someone else. Please share.   

Generosity Is the Heart of the Hamptons
On the local front, as noted above, most East End residents don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. Sadly, far too many still do. That’s why At Quaquanantuck supports the annual Heart of the Hamptons Polar Bear Plunge, coming up this year on December 14 at Cooper’s Beach in Southampton. All are invited to sign up sponsors and take the plunge themselves; to sponsor a specific plunger; or simply to support the cause. 

Heart of the Hamptons is dedicated to helping people in our local community who are in need, without discrimination, in a dignified manner. The organization has provided food for 65,000 meals, distributed 99,000 pounds of clothing items, and served 2,000 plus families and individuals. To find out more, sign up for the Plunge, or make a 100 percent tax deductible donation, visit

Bay Road ab
Is Dune Road now Bay Road? —A. Botsford Photo

Party and Shop at QWR Holiday Open House
All are invited to the annual free Holiday Party and Open House for adults and families at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge coming up this Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., replete with hot chocolate, light refreshments, crafts for kids, and holiday music by a toasty fire. Guests are also invited to bring along their favorite holiday treat to share.

Many choices of thoughtful presents for loved ones will be available, including QWR apparel and gifts, Fair Trade gift items, and arts and crafts from local artists. Featured items include wood carvings by Randy Dean; Plan Bee Balms; the Quogue Wildlife Refuge Gift Table; Stepping Stone Soaps; World Village Fair Trade; and live music and children’s stories by Wendy Wax. 

Reservations are preferred; call 631-653-4771 or sign up at

At the Holiday Open House, visitors will have a chance to see the beautiful tree donated to QWR by the Farmers Market Farmstand at 76 Montauk Highway in Westhampton. 

Jungle Bob Signing Children’s Books on Sunday at QWRLenny-Cover-Jungle-Bob-Book-Signing-400x314
The ever-popular Jungle Bob is returning to the Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, December 8, at 2 p.m. to read the first in his series of children’s books, “Lenny: A Most Unusual Reptile.” He will also introduce the audience to some of the live animals from the story.

This story features animals to teach children the value of our differences. Signed books will be available for purchase at this free program. Make a reservation by calling 631-653-4771 or register online at  

Full Moon Night Hike Trail Walks Quogue Wildlife Refuge
The next Full Moon Night Hike at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge will be offered on Wednesday, December 11, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.  

During the 90-minute walk through the forest up to North Pond and back, adults and families with children age 11 and up will look and listen for nocturnal creatures and undertake some night vision activities under the light of the moon. 

This program is $5 for Wildlife Refuge members; $10 for non-members. Reservations (631-653-4771) are required at least 24 hours in advance, along with payment of the appropriate fee.

More Spirit of the Season at Historical Society House Tour
This year’s Holiday House Tour to benefit the Quogue Historical Society will be held on Saturday, December 14, from 2 to 6 p.m.; a cocktail party follows at 6 p.m. at one of the five Quogue houses festively decorated for the holidays. 

Tickets for the House Tour only are $60; cocktail party tickets are $50; House Tour & Cocktail Party, $100; Patron Level tickets $125 (House Tour & Cocktail Party). Click here to purchase tickets.

On the day of the event, tickets can be picked up or purchased from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pond House, 114 Jessup Avenue, Quogue. All those interested in volunteering on the day of the tour are asked to call Lee Wadelton, volunteer coordinator, 908-377-1486.

For more information or to buy tickets, click here or visit

Documentary Film Festival in Sag Harbor and Southampton
The annual Hamptons Doc Fest (formerly the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival) starts today, Thursday, December 5, with screenings at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. This year the Festival, which runs through Monday, December 9, will also feature screenings at the Southampton Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday. 

The Festival will offer Spotlight films, awards, a tribute to the legendary late filmmaker DJ Pennebaker, a Saturday night gala, and a full day of free screenings on Monday, December 9, courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Larry Nassar sentence

One of the standout films offered at the Southampton Arts Center will be the Saturday screening at noon of “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal,” followed by an interview and Q&A with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. 

Judge Aquilina, who is featured extensively in the film, presided over the trial and sentencing of Larry Nassar, accused of abusing young athletes for decades as the gymnastics team’s doctor. 

For more information about this film or the Hamptons Doc Fest, visit

Your Comments Welcome
At Quaquanantuck is happy to provide a forum for civil discussion of village issues and initiatives and welcomes all comments. All are encouraged to share observations, ideas and opinions by writing to

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—or the world. 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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