Living in a world reconfigured by the coronavirus has some of the qualities of life in a dream. For those who are so blessed that they are able to shelter in place in our village and on the East End, this is not the same kind of horrific nightmare being faced by millions in our country and around the world, but it is still a dream.
Now in the fourth week of stay-at-home social distancing in Quogue, our understanding of normalcy has been flipped, just as it is in dreams. Actions that would ordinarily strike us as peculiar and even bizarre are now commonplace; things we formerly took for granted or grudgingly accepted as part of everyday life now seem strange or take on outsize meaning.
And, just as a strange dream we remember can shape the hours and even days that follow, here’s hoping that when we are finally able to emerge from this fear filled dream state, we will remember what we have learned: about all of us being in this thing called life together; about the need to both respect and care for one another; about the beauty of being able to gather in groups and the importance of staying connected; about, yet again, the preciousness of life and appreciation for our many blessings.
And in accordance with the same moral imperative that compels us to thank veterans and the men and women serving in the armed forces for their service, let’s always remember to show our gratitude and support in every way we can for all those who are serving in the front lines of the desperate battle against the pandemic: From the first responders, medical workers, healthcare administrators, and scientists to the civil servants, the journalists, and the proprietors and workers at essential businesses—including grocery store employees—who are soldiering on despite the risks in order to help the rest of us get through this.
Another self-evident lesson of this scourge that is now enshrouding the planet is that we must always hold on to our ability to adapt. No matter how dug in we may get about protecting and preserving our quotidian rhythms and routines, the coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that we remain rigid at our mortal peril. Commit to the greater good, adapt, with grace if possible, and live: the choice has never stood in such stark relief.
On the Local Front
Residents are encouraged to continue to check the Village of Quogue website (www.villageofquogueny.gov), both for updates on the home page about state, county and village resources in response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as news and notes on the Announcements page.
One example from the home page would be the announcement that New York State has launched a new email system to provide daily updates about Covid-19. To sign up, click on (or paste in your browser) the link now.ny.gov/page/s/coronavirus-updates. And be sure to share this link with friends and family.
Remember, too, that if you or someone you know needs medical attention, please contact your or the person’s personal physician; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC—800-232-4636, www.cdc.gov/info); Peconic Bay Medical Center (631-548-6000); or Stony Brook Southampton Hospital (631-726-8200); or, in an emergency, call 9-1-1.
The Announcements page is where readers will find Mayor Peter Sartorius’s latest notes that were sent out to the village opt-in email list. To sign up for village eblasts, send an email to ABuhl@villageofquogueny.gov and ask for your email address to be included.
Keep Your Distance; Keep Quogue Clean
For those who are not yet on the list, and who have not checked the Announcements page recently, At Quaquanantuck brings to your attention this important reminder that the Mayor sent out on April 6:
“Throughout the Village we see record numbers of bikers, runners and walkers. That is great. We all can use the exercise. Just remember to keep at least six feet between you and your companions and wear a mask for the protection of others if you are interacting with them.
“For the dog walkers among you, remember that it is your duty to clean up after your animals and take the plastic bag home or deposit in a waste container. Do not leave them by the side of the road or put them in a storm drain. If you need any further incentive to do the right thing, the Village Code provides for fines for violators.”
Helping Others in Need
One of the Mayor’s recent missives addressed a question that is, thankfully, being asked quite a bit by Quogue residents these days: how can we contribute to help those less fortunate, or to support the first responders and medical workers at this exceptionally challenging time?
As Hizzoner pointed out: “While there are a lot of worthy charities in the area, here is a link to the United Way, which is sponsoring a fund specifically designed to help people in Suffolk County: www.unitedwayli.org/covid19helpsuffolk.
Another wonderful East End organization is the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center (www.bhccrc.org) which is stepping up to help families in crisis because of the pandemic. Now in week four of school closures, the Center’s food pantry has been providing food twice a week to 25 families, totalling 82 individuals. Some 30 After-School kids are now participating in the Center’s online learning, up from only 10 in the first week.
As the ranks of the jobless swell, 11 additional families (56 individuals) now need food; 22 individuals have already lost income, some households have lost all their income.
The Center is now seeking donations for its Emergency Fund. $300 will feed a family of four for one week; $500 will provide certified individual on-line tutoring; $1,000 can provide one of the Center’s families with their own computer. Donations can be made by visiting the Center’s home page, www.bhccrc.org, and scrolling down to the Donate button at the bottom, or by clicking here.
Help for Hospital Workers
Thanks to Hampton Theatre Company House Manager Julia Morgan Abrams, who donated cookies and beverages from the now dormant HTC concession stand, At Quaquanantuck learned this week about a great program to get donations of food to staffers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
The hospital’s Shannon Cressy, Director of Nutrition Services, has deployed a terrific online program, Meal Train (www.mealtrain.com/trains/nn7de6) that gives potential food donors all the details they need to know on how to donate and deliver food to the hospital.
Once the food donor schedules a delivery, Shannon notifies the designated department head about food description and quantity. Teams from the different departments then have the option to either pick-up or dine-in at the Teaching Center. Click on or visit the website above for more information.
Essential? Or not? What About Landscaping?
On April 2, the Mayor sent out (and posted on the Village website) this clarification on the distinction between essential vs. non-essential as it applies to construction:
“The designations have been promulgated by Governor Cuomo’s office under his Executive Orders, not by the Village of Quogue, but the Village does enforce them. Designations have changed over the course of the past few weeks. For a time, all construction was an essential business. Now only major infrastructure-type projects are essential.
“Thus, for the most part residential construction has ceased in the Village. The exceptions are a couple of instances when a project was permitted by our building department to proceed to the point where the project site was safe and a partially-completed roof water tight. An additional exception exists under the State guidance for a single worker to be on a construction site.
“At the same time, landscaping for maintenance and pest control purposes is regarded as an essential business. That is why you continue to see landscapers at work in the Village. If you see what you believe is non-essential work going on, please call the Village Office (631-653- 4498) or the Quogue Police Department (631-653-4791).”
Village Spring Leaf Pickup Underway
Speaking of landscaping, the Village Highway Department has begun the Spring Leaf Pickup operation. Leaves must be on the shoulder of the street by April 30 in order to be picked up.
Residents are advised not to pile leaves around fire hydrants or utility equipment. Leaves stuffed in plastic bags will not be picked up, and residents will be required to remove them. No brush, such as twigs and branches, or lawn cuttings will be taken away, and mixing this debris with leaves will result in the leaves not being removed. Brush with branches up to 3” in diameter may be taken to the Westhampton transfer and recycling facility free of charge from April 15 through May 31. For more information, go to www.southamptontownny.gov.
Residents are reminded that property owners and landscapers removing leaves (only) from a Quogue property may make arrangements with the Quogue Highway Department to dump them at the highway yard. This arrangement neatly circumvents the problem of having piles of leaves in front of your property blowing back onto your lawn before they can be picked up by the Village Highway crews.
Getting the Dirt on Digger Bees
Getting outside to exercise in these strange days yields multiple benefits, not the least of which is the opportunity to be immersed in nature. There is something extremely reassuring and even comforting in the recognition that the vernal life cycles of the local flora and fauna continue unabated and unaffected by the virus (itself a part of nature) that has upended so many of the cycles of homo sapiens society.
And it is indeed gratifying to live in a place where casual questions about natural phenomena can be referred to the knowledgeable folks at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, who are only too happy to provide the answers, as well as recommend additional resources for more information on most any topics.
Case in point: At Quaquanantuck came across dozens and dozens of holes in the ground on the grassy shoulder of a section of Quogue Street. While at first the circles of sand around the holes made them appear to be ant hills (see photo), the diameter of the holes and the presence of hovering insects with a slight resemblance to yellow jackets pointed to another species.
Enter Quogue Wildlife Refuge Assistant Director Marisa Nelson, who offered this response to an email query:
“NY has ground nesting bees; probably these are digger bees. They are solitary (one bee per hole), and they are (excellent) native pollinators. Not aggressive. Yellow jackets are wasps that can be aggressive and they nest together so one hole in the ground will have many.”
Marisa also provided the following link to a fascinating Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences article on Bee Diversity in New York. As the article points out that “the majority (54%) of bees in New York State are digger bees,” At Quaquanantuck highly recommends that readers check out the link and learn more about these complex and marvelous creatures.
Ospreys Return and Get Busy
By now many residents have noticed on their perambulations that the ospreys have returned. Here again, At Quaquanantuck is fortunate to have contributing wildlife photographer and longtime birder Florrie Morrisey as a resource.
When At Quaquanantuck reached out to Ms. Morrisey to inquire whether these majestic birds had shown up earlier than usual, she provided a comprehensive response:
“You can pretty much set your watch here for March 21-22 for the return of the fish eagles,” she wrote in an email. “My favorite bird and I follow three pairs every summer … Here are the different stages of activity: Upon return there is a lot of prep before mating. ‘It’s all about the NEST!’ is a well-known birders’ saying that actually applies to all birds as far as I know.
“First several weeks they are flying around the area of the nest and rebuilding the old nest, or starting afresh for new pairs, swooping down on beaches to pick up loose sticks, strings, debris etc for building materials. Supposedly all of this type of activity is a stimulus to mate. Then after that the male starts showing the female that he is a good provider, bringing back fish to the nest, showing off. Then (ta dah!) she agrees to mate.
“That goes on for a few weeks and, usually about the end of April, give or take, she lays the eggs and starts sitting/incubating for about 38 days till hatch. You can always tell when there are eggs because there is always one parent on the nest, switching off but never leaving untended. So approximately the end of May or beginning June they hatch, and you really can’t see them until they are tall enough to show their heads—although you can see a parent bring a fish to the nest and begin ripping it apart and clearly feeding it to invisible chicks.
“Picture I attach is July 9th…Then they fledge at about 55 days old, start flapping around and practicing lifting off. The rest of July and August and part of September (even into October) parents teach them to fly, hit the water for fish, etc. because they have to be full weight and full grown by migration time. Their winter destinations range from South Carolina all the way down to South America, where there are also year-rounders.”
PSEG Osprey Webcam
PSEG Long Island has installed webcams in Oyster Bay and Patchogue to offer a sneak peek into the lives of local osprey. Check out the Oyster Bay Osprey Cam by clicking here.
With guidance and support from environmental partners, PSEG Long Island and its dedicated team have identified best practices for when to move a nest, and when to create alternative safer nest locations for the ospreys. Workers have safely relocated two dozen osprey nests in order to ensure the birds are out of harm’s way from high voltage systems, and taken actions to make nests safe in place at an additional eight locations.
Visit www.psegliny.com/wildlife for more information.
ELIAS April Birding Challenge
With the coronavirus keeping everyone close to home, the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society (ELIAS) has thoughtfully offered a challenge to members and other birders to list the birds observed in their yards during the month of April.
Listing can be done while raking the yard, planting flowers, or just standing/sitting outside listening and watching. For those who already submit observations to the Cornell eBird website, your lists will serve as a record of your observations. For others, simply find a notebook or a blank piece of paper and begin to list the different birds that you see in, around and over your yard.
At the end of April, ELIAS will request that all who are taking the challenge submit their lists to the ELIAS Facebook page or the ELIAS email address and from there someone will tally the April listing of birds observed and post it on Facebook and in the next Osprey.
As the organization pointed out: “This does not make up for lost walks or monthly meetings, however, it does provide some opportunity for us to remain interconnected and to enjoy the birds in our backyards or wherever you get to bird. So, begin that April list.”
Quogue Library Virtual Programs: “Fish Guy” Webinar April 10
As At Quaquanantuck noted last week, now that discussions and webinars sponsored by the Quogue Library have shifted over to the virtual realm, library staffers have asked that all those who wish to participate feel comfortable working with Zoom for a remote meeting. Access to a computer and/or smartphone, along with internet access, is required; anyone in need of assistance with Zoom setup is asked to email email@example.com and library staffers will get you started.
Coming up tomorrow, on Friday, April 10, at 7 p.m., the library will present the first in a series of Zoom webinars collectively titled “Explore the World Below Sea Level with Fish Guy Photos.”
The first installment will be “Exploring Long Island’s Underwater World,” following Chris Paparo, aka the “Fish Guy,” on an underwater tour of LI. Patrons joining the webinar will be treated to outstanding photographs and videos of local fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other assorted invertebrates while learning interesting facts about those creatures that might be encountered on a fishing trip or a stroll down the beach.
Very important to sign up for the webinar in advance and get instructions for connecting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The series includes two other segments, to be offered on Friday, April 17, and Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m.
On Friday, April 17, at 7 p.m. the next installment will consider “From Plankton to Whales: Why Our Local Waters Are Worth Protecting.”Discussing the April 17 program, Mr. Paparo notes that “with endless stories and photos of fish kills, harmful algal blooms, oil spills, beach closures, etc. filling our daily news feeds, it appears that our environment is in a horrific state of ‘Doom and Gloom.’
“Although we do face many environmental challenges, this constant bombardment of negativity creates a lack of enthusiasm among local communities when it comes to protecting our environment. Regain your enthusiasm for protecting our marine environment by learning about some of the fascinating marine life that inhabits the waters of Long Island.”
Again, for more information, or to register and receive instructions on how to connect, contact email@example.com.
The Quogue Library website has been updated with a complete list of digital resources and the staff will continuously add new information to its remote resource page. In addition, there are a number of curated recommendations for websites for entertainment, reading lists, instruction and topics of interest as we shelter in place. To stay up to speed and for a complete listing of all online library programs and resources, visit the library website at www.quoguelibrary.org.
Parrish Launches Live from the Studio
At Quaquanantuck would like to help readers stay engaged with their creative energy in whatever ways are accessible during this bunkering period. So it is a pleasure to share the news that the Education Department of the Parrish Art Museum has created “Live from the Studio,” a new series of free live-streamed art workshops every Wednesday morning from 11 – 11:45 a.m., featuring a rotating roster of Parrish teaching artists.
The series kicked off yesterday, on Wednesday, April 8, with painter Barbara Thomas leading a “Still Life Flower Painting” class, inspired by selections from the Parrish collection and her own works.
The classes are open to all participants, adults and families, at any skill level. “The artists who teach at the Parrish each have their own expertise and following. They have volunteered to share workshops from their studios to connect with students from home,” said Cara Conklin-Wingfield, Parrish Education Director. “We all need art right now and Barbara and the other artists are generously sharing their time to bring art to the Parrish community. They are helping to keep us connected through making art.”
During the class, participants are invited to follow along with the instruction, while interacting through a live Q& A. The only materials needed are pencils, paints, brushes, or any other drawing supplies participants may have in their homes.
Live from the Studio continues in the following weeks with Eric Dever on April 15, and Laurie Lambrecht on April 22. Future artists and topics will be announced. All classes are being recorded and will be available on parrishart.org for future viewing.
Condolences to the Family of Ira Briskman
The extended family of the Quogue community lost one of its most devoted members this week with the death on Tuesday, April 7, of Ira Briskman, 79, husband of Graham Russell.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, on October 11, 1940, Ira was a graduate of Mumford High School in 1958; a camper and counselor at Camp Scatico in Elizaville, NY; and a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity at the University of Michigan.
An avid lover of University of Michigan football and Duke basketball, he was a longtime resident of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida, but it was in his marriage to Graham and in his adopted village of Quogue that Ira found his true home.
I met Ira when he first came to Quogue with Graham in 1995, and, if limited to one modifier, I can only describe him as one of the sweetest people I have ever encountered. Although bright and quick, he happily bypassed wit and judgment, preferring instead to positively exude love, compassion and good humor; to spend time in his company was, unfailingly, to experience real warmth and a sincere interest in one’s well-being. A welcome and very appreciative guest at any gathering, he was perhaps happiest when he could welcome others into the joyful world he shared with Graham and their family.
Over the last few years, Ira battled, with typical good grace, a number of serious health challenges. Buoyed by his deep love for Graham and his family, and thanks to the tireless, tender care and love provided by Graham, he miraculously bounced back from them all, right up to the end. Perhaps it was his karma or maybe it was a gift from the universe, returning some of the love he gave throughout his life; whatever forces were at work in the timing, Ira was able to join Graham at her computer last Saturday for a Zoom “cocktail” gathering of Quogue friends and members of his family. A blessing for Ira and for friends and loved ones who were able to connect with him one last time, even if only virtually.
So great was his love for his spiritual home in Quogue that he long ago requested that he be buried in the Quogue Cemetery. As Graham noted this week, Ira “loved long, hazy, simple summer days in his beloved Quogue and the crisp, beautiful fall weather sitting on the deck watching the waves at the Quogue Beach Club.” It is certain that his friends and family will feel his presence there still.
In addition to his devoted wife Graham, Ira is survived by two daughters, Anna Rakowsky and her husband Darin and Emily Briskman; two sons, Alexander Russell and his wife Lea and Hamish Russell and his wife Jill; and three granddaughters, Elizabeth, Harper and Georgia Russell. A memorial gathering in Quogue will be held at a later date.
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.