We have been set adrift, it seems, in a time of not knowing. Six weeks in—with thousands of hours of air time, a million gallons of ink, and billions of news, information, and social media threads devoted to the topic—and the only certainty to hold onto is that we still cannot know anything for certain about what the future holds in store.
Adrift because time, like our understanding of reality, has become fluid. For health care workers, first responders, scientists, and infected patients in the thick of mortal combat, time is flowing away so fast that in spite of the most superhuman efforts they cannot possibly keep up as suffering and the death toll continue to rise. Meanwhile, millions of Americans, newly unemployed and short on resources, are drowning in a seemingly bottomless reservoir of time, while the rest of the nation scours external sources and looks inward for inspiration on how to keep swimming against the storm surge of the pandemic and the rising tide of fear from not knowing.
Because, as much as anything else, it is the not knowing that is spreading the dangerous infection of fear. As we float past the traditional markers—opening days for major league baseball or trout season, Easter, Passover, Earth Day—all we have are questions to which there are no answers. When will restrictions be lifted? What restrictions will need to remain in place? What will be the consequences if restrictions are lifted too soon? The economic consequences if they are lifted too late? When can my family gather for a holiday meal? What will daily life look like? Sifting through all the different opinions so volubly expressed and even the speculation of experts, we are still left in a state of not knowing.
“You’ve got to be realistic and you’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview an eon ago on March 26. “The virus makes the timeline.” In other words, while we can see that what we are doing now is having an effect on slowing the spread of the pandemic, there’s no way of knowing what will happen if we stop … until we stop. So it would seem to make sense to tread lightly and move slowly and see how our common enemy responds.
But now the fever of fear spawned by not knowing is driving the decisions of some in authority to irresponsibly careen back to a way of life that has demonstrably and conclusively overburdened health care systems and personnel past the breaking point and cost thousands of lives.
Remember the emotionally stirring appeal of science fiction films—think “Independence Day” or “Armageddon”—that served up the much loved fantasy that all the people in all the nations of the world would band together to take on, and vanquish, some external threat to the survival of the human race? Competing political and economic interests have apparently been successful so far in sufficiently downplaying the existential threat of global warming and climate change to the point where the world still cannot manage to unite to try to turn the tide. But what about the pandemic?
Will the global devastation being wrought by the spread of COVID-19 be enough to force us to overlook—or, better, to overcome—all of our many divisions, all of the many ills of our society that the virus has so starkly exposed, and come together as a unified force to stop the pandemic, recover and rebuild? As big as the question is, the answer comes down to each one of us as individuals. That’s the only place to start. The virus is a test, an exam we have not prepared for in a pass/fail course we never signed up for. And we cannot be excused; we’ll have to study the best information available and learn on the fly whatever new skills are required to pass, and live. Acceptance, patience, responsibility, faith, willingness, sacrifice, and caring for one another come to mind. There are clear lessons in the past, from the horrifying experience of world wars, that can offer some guidance.
There will be a new reality, probably several iterations of new reality and many iterations of new normal. We don’t know what they look like yet; we cannot know. That’s where faith comes in. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it so simply, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Fear must be put aside; as has been said, fear is too often the force that prevents us from acquiring and cultivating faith. We, as individuals, have to make the necessary preparations, shed self-interest and inflexible positions, and then be ready, in community with others, to take the first steps.
An article in the April 22, 2020 New York Times headlined, Internal Dissent as States Reopen Despite Virus, offered this quote from Carlos Del Rio, a professor of global health at Emory University in Atlanta: “Going back to the past isn’t happening anytime soon.” According to the article, Professor Del Rio added that ultimately, limiting the virus’s spread will depend on people acting responsibly. “It’s not going to be up to the government,” he said. “It’s going to be up to us as individuals.”
Whipped by the winds of fear, we are adrift in a time of not knowing. At the end of the day, figuring out what course to steer is up to us.
And so it goes in the time of the novel coronavirus today.
The Mayor’s Corner: You Count, So Be Counted
This week’s letter from Mayor Peter Sartorius to Quogue residents with email addresses in the village system (which also appears in full on the the Village website Announcements page, villageofquogueny.gov/polAnnouncements.cfm, is chock full of important information and links related to: getting counted in the U.S. 2020 Census; New York State’s new streamlined system for claiming unemployment benefits; issues, such as beach use this summer, to be addressed by the task forces formed to determine how New York State reopens; and tracking the number of COVID-19 cases in our area.
If you did not, or do not, receive the Hizzoner’s letter, please be sure to visit the Village website by clicking here, or copy and paste in your browser www.villageofquogueny.gov/ and then click on the Announcements bar on the home page.
On the Local Front
Here in Quogue, as everywhere, people are continuing to figure out how to deal with time as a fluid yet fixed commodity. Artists as well as those who do not consider themselves creative types would do well to take a cue from the dedication of Claudia Baez-Sacasa, interviewed recently by the Rome Art Program (RAP) about how she and two other artists are coping during this time of national emergencies and lock-down isolation.
The interview, titled “Art, Whatever It Takes,” is excerpted here:
RAP: In your opinion is there a “creative method”?
Claudia: “Yes. I believe in discipline. I believe in ‘act before you think.’ My creative method consists in having all my materials laid out, and then getting into the zone, that ‘unthinking’ place. When I make a painting, I want every mark to come from the unconscious.”
RAP: The ‘lock down moment’ can set you on the path of some important change(s) in your creativity and style … Has this happened to you?
Claudia: “I am presently locked down with family, therefore the only change has been to have to enforce even more discipline in order to obtain time to create. I’m only three weeks in [at the time of the interview], a revelation might be around the corner … hope so!”
At Quaquanantuck hopes so, too, for Claudia and for all of us.
Meanwhile, another reader that At Quaquanantuck spoke to conceded that managing and prioritizing her time with New York State on PAUSE is providing the equivalent of a CrossFit workout for her powers of concentration.
Working with her husband to balance her full-time, high energy communications job now done from home; oversee four offspring (two in college, one graduating from high school, and one just entering high school) now studying at home and trying to adjust to an academic schedule instead of surfing and other summertime activities; manage household, exercise, and meal schedules for a family of six; and set the schedule for regular walking of the family dog … would seem to render the term “spare time” a completely meaningless phrase at present.
Residents who have the time and are able to are also trying to figure out how to help. Alexia Fernandez, for example, made a number of masks to be handed out to any village residents who wanted them, and stands ready to make more as needed.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge Takes Earth Day Virtual
More than enough irony to go around in these days of the coronavirus. Although some are opting to ignore the phenomenological evidence, it has escaped almost no one’s attention that the global shutdown, while crippling the world’s economy, has provided a huge boost for the environment. Go, Nature!
The creative, dedicated and nimble folks over at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, meanwhile, late last week came up with an “Earth Day Every Day” campaign for a Virtual Earth Week Celebration. Refuge staffersfirst asked the social media savvy among their fans to share how they celebrate Earth Day all week long by tagging the Quogue Wildlife Refuge or using the hashtag #qwrearthdayeveryday. It is hoped the sharing will go on right through the weekend.
Next, the QWR, working with a variety of generous partners and co-presenters, put together a schedule of virtual programs that cover all the bases of celebrating Earth Day for both young and old, with everyone invited to tune in on Facebook and YouTube, or just go to the QWR website and click on any of the videos on the Earth Day Every Day page, quoguewildliferefuge.org/earth-day-every-day, which also shows the complete schedule. As the promotional materials for the virtual celebration put it: “Just because we are distant, doesn’t mean we can’t come together virtually in honor of planet Earth.”
Programs have been going on and posted all week and will continue to be posted through Saturday, April 25. Thursday, April 23, programs include: “Become an Activist” from Students for Climate Action at 10 a.m. and “What Is a Carbon Footprint?” live as part of QWR Nature News at 1 p.m.
On Friday, April 24, everyone can tune in to “Earth Day with Quogue Library” at 10 a.m., and “Nature Experiments” as another installment of QWR Nature News live at 1 p.m. The virtual celebration wraps up on Saturday, April 25, with “Celebrating Earth Month at Home” from the Group for the East End at 10 a.m.; “10 Fun Facts about Blue Jays” from the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society at 1 p.m.; and a “Virtual Kayak Tour of Old Ice Pond” with QWR Environmental Educator Tony Valderrama at 3 p.m.
The QWR’s Virtual Earth Week has been partially sponsored by Rechler Equity and the Hampton Business District, located in Westhampton Beach. The Refuge crew is sending out big thanks to all the participants and producing partners: 91 East Productions; Bartlett Tree; the Central Pine Barrens Commission; Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program; Eastern Long Island Audubon Society (ELIAS); Group for the East End; LI Invasive Species Management Area; New York Marine Rescue Center; Our Water Our Lives; Quogue Library; Stepping Stone Soaps; Stony Brook Southampton School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; and Students for Climate Action.
Great Decisions Comes Zooming Back Saturday; Virtual Dip with Sharks Friday
That’s right, the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Discussion program is virtually returning to the Quogue Library and can be enjoyed and engaged in from the comfort of your own shelter thanks to Zoom.
The library is inviting patrons to pour themselves a light refreshment and connect to Zoom for the FPA’s Great Decisions Discussion on the topic of Climate Change and the Global Order at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 25.
Patrons are requested to register early by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a Zoom meeting login and password. This year’s FPA Briefing Book is available for purchase in digital form from the FPA website, www.fpa.org, or by clicking here. The FPA website also has a complete list of topics for this year’s Great Decisions Discussions.
With David Rowe once again serving as the moderator and Susan Perkins as the facilitator, Saturday’s discussion will consider the ramifications of climate change becoming one of the defining issues of our time. As much of the world bands together to come up with a plan, the U.S. remains the notable holdout.
Questions to be considered include: What is the rest of the world doing to combat climate change? And what impact will the effects of climate change have on global geopolitics?
The Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions Discussion program provides background information and policy options for the eight most critical issues facing America each year, serving as the focal text for discussion groups across the country. For more information, visit www.fpa.org.
Saturday’s Great Discussions program will be preceded at 4 p.m. by a Zoom program for families, “Shakespeare and Opera Online,” examining how opera can breathe new life into some of the Bard’s famous works, like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Othello.” Email email@example.com to register and receive login info.
Coming up tomorrow, on Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m., the library will present the third in its series of Zoom webinars collectively titled “Explore the World Below Sea Level with Fish Guy Photos.”
Very important to sign up for the webinar in advance and get instructions for connecting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the third and final webinar installment, Mr. Paparo’s topic will be “Long Island’s White Shark Research.” Describing this installment, he wrote: “Long Island’s coastal waters have an abundance of sharks, all of which we know very little about. In 2015, a small group of researchers were the first to deploy a satellite tag on a juvenile great white shark off Long Island’s south shore. Over the subsequent two summers, a partnership with OCEARCH enabled them to tag an additional 20 white sharks off Montauk.
“In this presentation, learn about the continued work of the Shark Research and Education Program of the South Fork Natural History Museum.”
Again, for more information, or to register and receive instructions on how to connect, contact email@example.com.
For those whose interests lie above sea level in roots music from the noncartilaginous Lone Sharks founder, the East End Libraries consortium will be presenting a Facebook live streaming concert of acclaimed originals and classic roots tunes performed by Gene Casey, of Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks, from 7 to 8 p.m. For more information, click on or copy and paste https://www.facebook.com/events/580805205866972.
Again, for more information, or to register and receive instructions on how to connect, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAC Offers Tickets to First Run Independent Films to Screen at Home
The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center has reached an agreement with Magnolia Films to offer first run independent and foreign films unavailable on any other platform to be viewed on home desktop or laptop computers, tablets or mobile devices. “Tickets” are $12, with $6 going to the distributor and $6 going to the PAC.
At Quaquanantuck tried out the new system this week and highly recommends the neo-noir Romanian (principally in English) thriller “The Whistlers.” Other titles that can be screened under the new arrangement so far include: “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band”; “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes”; and “Corpus Cristi.” Trailers and ticket information are available on the PAC website, www.whbpac.org.
Village Spring Leaf Pickup Underway
As noted in previous columns, 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.
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.
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.