With the curve beginning to bend, economies tanking around the world, and restlessness the order of the day, everyone wants to weigh in on what life will look like—or should look like—as we move from the time before, through the time of, and tiptoe our way into the time after this pandemic.
Heads of state and government leaders; health care professionals and scientists; economists and corporate chieftains; pundits and philosophers; artists and writers; the 1 percent, the middle class, the working poor and the unemployed. Pretty much everyone on the planet, armed with nothing more than scant rock solid information and a surfeit of ideologies and opinions, has ideas about how things might work out, or ought to work out, or will likely work out. Or not.
Inevitably, a large amount of this kind of conjecture is dedicated, for the sake of our sanity, to the notion that there must be some kind of upside to living through all the pain, grief, and long term devastation that has so disproportionately affected so many millions around the world. That there are lessons to be learned about how all human beings—no matter how divided by borders, race, language, religious beliefs, wealth, education or politics—are part of one species. And that, as for most other life forms on our planet, our survival ultimately depends on recognizing the necessity of working together when the species is threatened.
Another hoped for lesson of the pandemic that can help in determining how we move into the time after is the importance of paying attention. Paying attention to science, to facts, to history, to inequality and the needs of other humans. And, especially, paying attention to nature, which our species—like it or not, and in spite of years of willful denial—springs from, is a part of, and the rules of which it is subject to, just the same as any other order of living things.
Residents and those who frequent such idyllic settings as the East End of Long Island can count among their many blessings that they are much closer to nature than millions of urban dwellers, many of whom have never even seen a star because of light and air pollution. Even as the coronavirus wreaks its havoc here and around the world, still we can see the trees budding and the flowers blooming, the shorebirds returning to the marsh and warblers flashing yellow in the hedges. Whatever happens to humans, nature continues to make its own way.
On our planet, nature keeps time by the sun, the seasons ticking by as the big blue ball makes its year-long journey along its elliptical track. Only by paying attention to this natural phenomenon were our ancestors able to develop our species-wide, unified system of classifying time in minutes and hours, days and months.
Only by paying attention to the seasons and all the laws of nature has our species been able to survive and thrive. And, in spite of the widening gap between mankind and nature, this imperative still applies for many around the world. Farmers and gardeners, hunters and fishermen (and women), wilderness trekkers and recreational campers, all whose livelihoods depend on nature, to name only a few: all must pay attention or pay the price.
This being 2020—which Roger Rosenblatt has aptly dubbed “the year of perfect hindsight”—we can look back and make the case that it has been the failure to pay attention that has made all the difference between levels of success in dealing with the spread of Covid-19 in different countries. And the importance of this lesson cannot be overemphasized.
Time and again in the modern age, it has been mankind’s hubris in believing that we can control nature or adequately protect ourselves from the havoc of its powerful vicissitudes that has prevented us from paying attention, stopped us from learning how to work with nature rather than trying to overcome it.
It has been suggested many times, including in this space, that the coronavirus pandemic is a test. What is most important—when we finally, blinking in the light, make our way into the time after—is not what grade we can award ourselves but whether or not we have learned the lessons that will be critical to our future survival: that we are one inextricably interconnected species, and that we must at all costs find a way to pay close attention and to work together.
Because, as the Emergency Broadcast System says, this is only a test. Nature has been telling scientists and anyone willing to pay attention in thousands of indicators that the real final exam is on the horizon. Horrifying as it is, the crippling spread of this pandemic across the globe and the toll it continues to take on all facets of human life are also conveying a dire message: As a species, we continue to exploit, defile and turn our backs on nature, and each other, at our mortal peril. It’s time to pay attention.
And so it goes in the time of the novel coronavirus today.
The Mayor’s Corner:
What’s new in this week’s letter to Quogue Village residents from Mayor Peter Sartorius? Among much, Hizzoner offered updates on:
The Village Beach— The access and the strand itself remain available for people to visit and walk or, as the mayor so lyrically expressed it, “just gaze at the ocean.” Pat McChesney, thankfully, has taken on the task of constructing new stairs, which should be completed soon.
Given the uncertainty about the use of the beach this summer—until recommendations and/or a plan are issued by the Governor’s Downstate Task Force—the village will continue to delay the acceptance of applications for beach stickers for at least “another week or two.” The May 15 date originally set for parking stickers being required is also being extended until “a reasonable time after stickers have begun to be issued.”
Elections—With the nominees already effectively set, New York State has cancelled the presidential primary scheduled for June 23, which still stands as the date for primary elections House of Representatives seat currently held by Lee Zeldin and the NY State Senate seat currently held by the Ken LaValle, who is retiring this year after 44 years of service.
Applications for absentee ballots will automatically be sent by the Suffolk County Board of Elections to registered voters. Very important to remember that the application msut be returned in order to receive the ballot and vote. Voting in person will also be allowed at the Quogue Fire House.
Village Elections—Although voting was originally scheduled on June 19 for the office of Mayor and two Trustees seats, the nominating process for village elections was suspended by Governor Cuomo a number of weeks ago. Village elections are consequently “on hold at the moment,” but the Mayor expressed confidence that the election will be held, even if on a revised timetable.
Security—The Mayor relayed that the Quogue Village Police Department is strongly encouraging residents in possession of Ring doorbells or other security camera systems and those who may be interested in obtaining such a system to download the free Neighbors by Ring app from Apple or the Google Play Store. The app allows residents to share video with the police department or neighbors and is recommended as a very good method of investigating criminal activity and tracking criminals.
More on this app can be found in the Police Department’s recent press release on the topic, which can be found, along with the Mayor’s April 28 email, on the Announcements page of the Village website: click here, or copy and paste in your browser www.villageofquogueny.gov/polAnnouncements.cfm.
And readers are reminded that, in addition to the Announcements page, the Village of Quogue website (www.villageofquogueny.gov) has updates on the home page about state, county and village resources in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Days of Future Past: Tales from the Pandemic of 1918
At Quaquanantuck extends gratitude this week to sisters Lulie and Florrie Morrisey, who recently discovered in an old memoir that their maternal grandmother had a first-person experience with the so-called Spanish Flu in 1918. As Florrie pieced it together, these are the details:
Florence Earle Johnson, age 25, left her home in Philadelphia in December 1917 to join the American Red Cross in Chaumont, France, the General Headquarters of General John (“Black Jack”) Pershing. Hers was the Roosevelt-Mackay Unit formed by Roosevelt Hospital in New York City under the guidance and funding of the Clarence Mackay family of New York.
After 11 months working as a “searcher,” comparing lists of missing men with hospital admissions information and distributing comfort kits to wounded soldiers, she was granted a leave to return to the U.S. for a brief visit in November 2018. The night she arrived in New York, she came down with what she called the “Black Flu,” which she had not known was raging across America at the time.
She survived to live a long life but never returned to France as the Armistice was announced just a few days after she arrived home, on November 11, 2018.
This illuminating bit of personal history suggests that other readers, or perhaps the Quogue Historical Society, might have anecdotes about their relatives or more detailed information about life in Quogue or the experiences of Quogue residents during the Flu Pandemic of 1918.
With everyone sheltering in place, it’s a good time to poke around in the attic and ask around in the family for stories and possibly even photographs to share with other readers. Please send what you find to AtQuaq@gmail.com.
Quogue Library’s Virtually Comprehensive Programming
It must be noted that, already displaced and soldiering on through its massive renovation and expansion of the headquarters on Quogue Street long before the coronavirus put New York on pause, the Quogue Library never missed a step in taking its programming from in-person and personal into the virtual realm.
Last week saw such diverse offerings as the first Zoom installment of the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Discussion program (the next one, focusing on “India and Pakistan,” is coming up on Saturday, May 9, at 5 p.m.); the third segment of Chris Paparo’s “Explore the World Below Sea Level” series; a family Zoom program on “Shakespeare and Opera Online”; and a roots music and originals concert featuring Gene Casey.
Programs of note this week include a family-friendly Zoom session on “Seaside Birding with Fish Guy Photos” on Friday, May 1, at 7 p.m.All those who register and join the session will get a look at sea and shorebirds in a multi-media presentation led by the Fish Guy himself, Chris Paparo.
Topics to be covered include details about wading birds, waterfowl, and raptors, as well as where one can go to observe the different species. As with all programs these days, RSVP and register by emailing email@example.com to obtain Zoom login information.
Another family Zoom session will be offered by the library on Saturday, May 2, at 4 p.m.: “Luciano Pavarotti—Tenor Larger Than Life.” Crowned as the “king of the tenors” even after his death in 2007, Pavorotti still stands as an international cultural icon representing the international scope and grandeur of this most dramatic of musical art forms.
The Zoom session will trace the star’s humble beginnings in Modena, Italy, and his subsequent rise to the highest echelons of the opera world. Register and get Zoom login info by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The library is also offering virtual programs for the littlest patrons. Starting today, April 30, at 11 a.m. and continuing on May 7, 14, 21 and 28, the 2- to 5-year-old set can join Zoom sessions for Miss Pat’s Story Time for a fun story every Thursday morning.
A “Kids Zoom Yoga Series with Jillian” will be offered for ages 6 to 8, with the intention of helping children cope with being in quarantine while promoting a healthy body and lifestyle. Children will develop a body-and-breath awareness while being actively engaged in live Kids Yoga and Meditation classes using simple poses, music, and guided meditation practice.
Again, for more information, or to register and receive instructions on how to connect for any of the library’s virtual programs, contact email@example.com.
Nature News Continues at Wildlife Refuge; Tune In Today
With the collaborative “Earth Day Every Day” virtual Earth Week extravaganza now in the rearview, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge (www.quoguewildliferefuge.org) is continuing with new installments in its twice weekly lecture series for all ages, QWR Nature News (#QWRnaturenews). Offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there’s no telling what the subject will be today, Thursday, April 30, at 1 p.m. for those who stream it live on Facebook.
What At Quaquanantuck can tell you is that recent installments have taken entertaining and educational looks into such topics as: Snakes; Red-Tailed Hawks & Raptors of Long Island; Eggs and Nests; and Chinchillas and Rodents. Videos of all previous segments have been posted and are available on the Refuge YouTube channel, #qwrnaturenews.
Steadfast in this time of social distancing, the Refuge remains devoted to bringing educational programs to local residents. 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 with an approximately 10-minute education piece followed by an interactive section with viewers urged to ask questions and answer trivia to test their knowledge.
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. For those who don’t use Facebook, all videos are being posted on the QWR YouTube channel, #qwrnaturenews, afterwards.
Remember that although the Nature Center and facilities are closed, the trails at the QWR remain open, to counterclockwise single direction access only and adequate social distancing and other protocols required.
PAC Offering Access to Commentary on Independent Films
The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is launching a new program of film commentary tied to the PAC’s roster of first-run independent and foreign films available only through the Center’s website. Rentals are $12, with $6 going to the distributor and $6 going to the PAC, at www.whbpac.org.
Some readers are already familiar with the PAC’s summer program, “Tuesday Night at the Movies with Andrew and Friends.” With all programming shifting to virtual and recorded platforms, the PAC is working out the technical aspects of offering “YouTube Night at the Movies with Andrew and Friends.” The system works by uploading videotaped and Zoom recorded commentary by Andrew Botsford and occasional guests to YouTube for patrons to access after they have rented a film through the PAC.
The PAC has already uploaded Mr. Botsford’s commentary on “The Whistlers,” available by clicking here, or going to https://youtu.be/ZN1UQzZssf4. Best to screen the movie first, as the commentary is not only filled with spoilers but won’t have a chance of making sense to anyone hasn’t seen it.
This week, the plan is for Mr. Botsford to record a Zoom conversation about “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” with WPPB DJs Brian Cosgrove and Megan Noonan, reuniting the same trio who discussed “Echo in the Canyon” last summer at the PAC. That commentary session should be uploaded by early next week.
Other titles that can be screened under the new arrangement with Magnolia Pictures so far include:; “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes” and “Corpus Cristi.” With luck, there will be commentary available on these films as well in the coming weeks. Trailers and ticket information are available on the PAC website, www.whbpac.org.
“Three Identical Strangers” Is This Week’s Doc Fest Fave
Hamptons Doc Fest is promoting home screening this week of the 2018 Breakout Director Award-winning “Three Identical Strangers,” along with a link to the 2018 Festival’s post-screening interview with director TimWardle by Doc Fest host Andrew Botsford.
“Three Identical Strangers” starts out as a heartwarming look at the reunion of triplets separated at birth before becoming a daunting piecing together of a truth is stranger than fiction story that’s almost impossible to believe. The story begins on Long Island with the birth and sudden separation of a set of triplets; the eventual fairy tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unspeakable secret.
Covering a period of six decades, director Tim Wardle combines interviews, archival footage and dramatic reconstructions to get to the core of the twisted tale.
Winner of a Special Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival and recognized for Outstanding Directorial Achievement by the Directors Guild of America, the documentary earned such praise from critics as: “Gripping” (The Hollywood Reporter); “Remarkable” (Indiewire); and “Oh My God” (The Wrap).
The documentary can be screened via Amazon here; or via Hulu here. To view a trailer, click here. To see the interview with director Tim Wardle, click here, the interview starts following the award presentation, at about 3:25.
Correction: Village Spring Leaf Pickup Ends Today
While last week’s column prematurely made the deadline last Thursday (which was incorrectly identified as April 30), in reality the Village Highway Department’s Spring Leaf Pickup operation effectively ends after the crews collect all the leaves that have been deposited on the shoulder of the street by the end of today, Thursday, April 30.
A quick review of the rules: no piles around fire hydrants or utility equipment; no leaves in plastic bags; no brush, such as twigs and branches, or lawn cuttings, and no mixing this type of debris with leaves. Brush with branches up to 3” in diameter may be taken to the Westhampton transfer and recycling facility free of charge through May 31. For more information, go to www.southamptontownny.gov.
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.