Two weeks in and, even though all in our nation and the world continue to quake in the face of an unknowable future, a few things have become clear as people in Quogue attempt to settle in to the ever-changing new normal.
Looking on the bright side—which, while challenging, seems more and more important—pretty much everyone is getting outside and perambulating on the streets and shorefront of our lovely village. While walking at least 20 minutes a day has long been recommended for better health, it’s good to see striding out there that portion of the population that is typically not disposed to following regular fitness protocols.
Admittedly, some year-round residents have had to make adjustments in their understanding of seasonal rhythms, unaccustomed as they are at this time of year to seeing more than one or two other people on the beach or on village streets as they make their regular rounds or walk their dogs. Walking or driving by the Quogue Field Club, for example, one can see more golfers on the course in mid-March than are typically seen swatting the dimpled spheroid on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon.
Noticing what amounts to actual crowds on the streets these days, one thoughtful reader suggested that At Quaquanantuck remind everyone of the standard safety protocols. When walking, cleave to the left side of the road, with “feet facing” oncoming traffic; when cycling, stay on the right side, with “wheels [aligned] with” vehicular flow. Dog owners, too, should remember proper etiquette (and the law) and clean up after their pets and properly dispose of the waste bags, whether walking on the streets or on the beach. Please.
Another advantage of following the rules of the road (steppers on the left; rollers on the right) is that it ensures the minimum six-foot separation of pedestrians and cyclists as they pass headed in opposite directions.
Along with keeping safety a priority, At Quaquanantuck encourages all pedestrians to make the most of their strolls by stopping once in a while and taking a minute or two to be still, look around, breathe the sweet air, and appreciate all the beauty and the life around them and give thanks for our great good fortune in having this place as our home.
Another thing that most people sheltering at home are dealing with these days is a new sense of time. Many of us have shared at one time or another the common lament: if only I had more time … to read, to write, to walk, to cook, to binge on seasons we’ve missed of peak TV, and so on. Of course one catch nowadays is that some of the things we wish we had time for—going to the gym, or shopping, for example—are not possible.
The challenge, it seems, is that now that we have the time—to clean our closets, attics, basements, or garages; read classic novels; catch up on our correspondence; and so on—too often the uncertainty of the current reality and the fear of the unpredictable, scary future push those positive, useful and life affirming pursuits to the side as we give ourselves over to news updates, horrifying statistics, and dire economic projections 24/seven.
Still, however much At Quaquanantuck may have railed at the internet and some of the worst aspects of social media and new technology in the past, there is no question that this kind of connectivity can offer us a vast array of positive stimulation and engagement at this difficult time of isolation and, too often, inertia. The digital and print NY Times and PBS (online or on air), to name only two outlets, have myriad suggestions for maintaining or improving housebound mental, emotional and physical fitness.
Locally, readers can go to the website for the Parrish Art Museum (www.parrishart.org) and see what their online space has to offer. For example, the Parrish has just announced “Friday Nights Live,” a new weekly program featuring live-streaming, online chat, and pre-recorded segments. The series launches this Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m. with a tour of the 2020 Student Exhibition with Museum Director Terrie Sultan and Education Director Cara Conklin-Wingfield. The new initiative enables the Museum to continue offering the community a way to engage with art, artists, and one another by adapting its popular Friday Night programs to the online space, with a new earlier time of 5 p.m.
Want more art, and some (recorded) live performances? Go to the Guild Hall website (www.guildhall.org) and right on the home page is a calendar for online programs under the “Guild Hall LIVE” imprimatur, including “Museum Mondays (on Thursday): Executive Director’s Choice with Andrea Grover” from noon to 1 p.m. today, Thursday, March 26. In today’s program, Ms. Grover will walk through the 82nd Artist Members Exhibition at Guild Hall, stopping to talk about some of her favorite pieces in the show.
Like documentary films? Go to the Hamptons Doc Fest website (www.hamptonsdocfest.com/) and check out the “Fest Favorites” that you can screen on your computer or smart television at home. In remembrance of the playwright Terence McNally, who died this week, Hamptons Doc Fest is offering a link to view “Every Act of Life,” director Jeff Kaufman’s loving tribute to the four-time Tony winning playwright and ardent fighter for LGBTQ rights.
The son of an alcoholic beer distributor in southern Texas, McNally traveled the world as tutor to John Steinbeck’s children, suffered an infamous Broadway flop in 1964 at the age of 26, and went on to write dozens of groundbreaking plays and musical about sexuality, homophobia, faith, the power of art, and finding meaning in every moment of life. Also available on the Doc Fest site is a Q&A featuring McNally, Thomas Kirdahy and Harris Yulin in conversation recorded at the 2018 festival when “Every Act of Life” was screened.
All these cultural institutions are doing their best to fulfill their missions and keep us engaged, and stimulated, and connected. It’s important, too, to remember that these are non-profits that are facing the same kind of uncertainty as everyone else, or worse, considering that there will be no government aid coming their way as we go through this crisis, and donations are likely to shrink as the populace feels the pinch on their pocketbooks.
More Time for Writing, and Making Art
For those considering making use of the newly deepened reservoir of time to engage in their own creative pursuits, At Quaquanantuck shares a bit of inspiration excerpted from a message that esteemed local writer and raconteur Roger Rosenblatt sent to MFA candidates in the post-graduate creative writing program at Stony Brook Southampton (boldface mine):
“For writers, human connections form our reason for being. We exist to tell the world something remarkable about itself. Something weird. Something unheard of. Something lovely. Something, above all, true. And even if we fail, the attempt means everything. Writers reach out. In novels, poems, essays, memoirs, we remind others we are all in the same boat. Words put us at the helm. Everything you write is a way of saying, ‘row.’
“If you’d like a prompt, may I suggest that you … keep a journal of the plague year, and see if your thoughts and impressions might be useful to others. See if your powers of observation and imagination might be useful. When this peril is past, and we’re back talking face to face again, and enjoying one another’s real, not virtual, company, we might read these pieces aloud and see where we have been.”
Many thanks to Roger, a seasoned navigator of that boat we share called the human condition, for permitting At Quaquanantuck to share these helpful thoughts.
Wildlife Refuge Offers New Interactive Program Online
Right in our own backyard, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge (www.quoguewildliferefuge.org) has jumped in to the stream with a new twice weekly lecture series for all ages, QWR Nature News (#QWRnaturenews). Offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m., today, Thursday, March 26, at 1 p.m. the Nature News will be all about tortoises and turtles.
The thinking at the Refuge—principally on the part of Benefit Coordinator and Administrative Assistant Kimberly Stever—was that during this time of social distancing, with the Nature Center closed, the Refuge could bring educational programs to local residents. Over the next few weeks, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m. the program will be live on Facebook with QWR animals and staff presenting a short segment of fun and education, #qwrnaturenews.
The program offers a unique look inside the Refuge, the passionate individuals who care for it, and the animals who call it home. During the last half of the program, it goes interactive, with viewers urged to ask questions and answer trivia to test their knowledge. The education piece is about 10 minutes and then the Q&A follows with no set time. For Facebook users who miss a segment, the recording will remain on the QWR FB page as a post that people can continue to view.
Conference Call for Quogue Library Board Meeting on March 28
Quogue Library Operations Director Susan McKenna has alerted At Quaquanantuck that the Quogue Library Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 a.m. via conference call. With the library currently closed, patrons who wish to register for the call should call 631-653-4224, ext. 101, to register.
Quogue Library Virtual Book Club Meets April 5
The Quogue Library’s Adult Book Club cannot be stopped. Those savvy folks at the currently shuttered library have set up a virtual meeting to discuss Elizabeth Strout’s “Olive, Again” on Saturday, April 5, at noon using the Zoom app.
Book club members will be able to see and hear each other in the discussion of this sequel to “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout. Allowing people to connect in a virtual space, Zoom provides a great way to build community and connection in this time of social distancing.
Anyone who would like to join the discussion in this video conference is requested to email email@example.com to get directions on how to participate.
For a complete listing of all online library programs and resources, visit the library website at www.quoguelibrary.org.
Quogue Historical Society Joins the Conversation
While those residents who received the recent email blast from the Quogue Historical Society can be excused if they blanched a bit at the somewhat tone deaf subject line, “Happy Spring” (really?), still it was delightful to receive a bit of history and some words of encouragement from Village Historian Julie Greene.
For those readers who may not have received the email, Ms. Greene recounted how in the spring of 1888, Samuel Davies Craig (1842-1904)—grandson and namesake of Samuel D. Craig (1785-1856), a prominent New York City attorney and Quogue’s first summer resident—was busy making extensive renovations on his estate, Pen Craig.
At the same time, it seems that Louis Felix Vetault (1863-1940), a young French gardener, was making his way to America from Angiers, France. Landing in Quogue, he found work as the head gardener on the Craigs’ property, and went on to make it a showcase in the village.
In 1899, Louis married Sarah Conlon, who was Mrs. Ellen Craig’s maid. The couple had a son, Louis Robert Vetault, and eventually moved to East Hampton, where they opened a nursery in 1902.
And how does this charming history relate to life in our village today? As Ms. Greene so graciously concluded: “All of which is a reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to get outside in our gardens—a safe and pleasant place to be in these uncertain times.”
Happily, with the danger of a hard freeze traditionally ending in these parts on tax day, April 15, gardeners in our village should be able to spend more and more quality—and safe—time in horticultural pursuits.
Inn Spot on the Bay Changes Gears
Adapting to the changing landscape for dining out, Cheffes Colette and Pam of the Inn Spot on the Bay started preparing a variety of homemade soups for pickup (and in some cases delivery) last week. Having met with some success, they are now working to have the Inn Spot’s food truck open on this coming Saturday for lunch.
Updates about the food truck will be posted on the Inn Spot website, www.TheInnSpot.com. Meanwhile, they have launched an online order platform. All available soups are listed, and later in the week, a chicken pot pie and crustaceous pot pie will be added. As soon as new items are available they will be added to the online site.
The site will allow patrons to place orders and pay, and also to schedule a pickup time, which can be set for a future date if desired. There is a link to online ordering at the www.TheInnSpot.com homepage, or patrons can go directly to https://theinnspot.square.site.
Shopping Services Volunteered for Elderly
Don’t forget that a reader who wishes to remain anonymous is offering to help out with grocery or other essential shopping for local residents in their 80s or 90s who are fearful about venturing out to stores at this time.
If you know of anyone in this category, email the name, a shopping list and the person’s address to firstname.lastname@example.org, and At Quaquanantuck will pass the information over to this good Samaritan.
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 AtQuaq@gmail.com.
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 AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.