With nine weeks of quarantine added to the cup of our experience, one drop of molasses after another, one might hope that we’d be closer to understanding something about the elasticity of time. For At Quaquanantuck anyway, so far no luck.
Why do the 18 waking hours of one day evaporate in a flash, before only three items out of eight can be crossed off the “to do” list? How can four days stretch out to feel like a long month? Why does something that happened in February feel one minute like it happened last week, and the next like it happened a year ago?
Though it’s a big one, time is only one of the concepts everyone is grappling with as we try to make sense of this experience. Talk to friends and neighbors, read newspapers, scan the internet: the same themes and variations recur: I’ve never been so busy. I’ve got nothing to do. I’ve got so much to do but I can’t do any of it now. Since I can’t do x, y, or z, what can I do as a surrogate? What can I do to take my mind off what I can’t do?
What is everybody else doing?
For many village residents, sheltering in place in Quogue began with some adjustments. For one thing, the seasonal population index was suddenly way out of whack. Never before had the month of March presented so many lights on in so many houses … and so many walkers spilling out of those houses to stride purposefully hither and yon around the village. And while all of us recognized some of the people we encountered whilst perambulating ourselves, none of us could recognize more than a fraction of all the other walkers. Hence the first reckoning: Who are all these people?
Adjusting was rendered more challenging by the collapse of the traditional ratio of population increase and the swelling of the social calendar. The numbers were in place, but the coronavirus killed the calendar, and with it the opportunity to “catch up” with friends and acquaintances in groups. Which brings us back to the earlier question: What is everybody else doing?
From all the comparing of notes that At Quaquanantuck has done so far, it seems that a lot of us are doing pretty much the same things: Walking. Working from home. Trying new recipes or learning to bake. Cycling. Reading more. Walking. Bingeing television. Scanning the internet and social media accounts for the best clips, memes and links to share. Jogging. Trying to find ways around obsessive compulsive media and information overkill. Walking. Speculating on what reopening and recovery will look like. Envisaging recovering from the reopening and the recovery. Walking.
At Quaquanantuck finds hope in seeing that beyond the extraordinary pursuits we all seem to be engaging in, many are continuing to do what they’ve always done, even if they’ve had to develop some adaptation so they can. Writers are writing. Teachers are teaching. For the next few weeks, this column will be looking at the recent projects of three writers—Denise Roland, Roger Rosenblatt, and Christopher Beha—two of whom are also teachers.
Over the last three years, plenty of space in this column has been devoted to musing about the effects on the human experience of our devotion (addiction?) to modern technology, artificial intelligence, social media and the resulting atomization of society and degrading of civil discourse. Now that the pandemic requires us to stay at home, when we are rightly grateful for the blessed connectivity that technology allows (imagine how much more lost we’d be without it), it’s more important than ever not to lose sight of the consequences of letting screen time replace, or stand in for, family time. That’s why teacher and children’s picture book author Denise Roland is up first in this series.
Denise Roland: Taking on the Era of Digital Distraction
Although her first book, “Please, Look Up at Me” (with illustrations by Andrea Shine), was honored with a silver medal from the Mom’s Choice Awards, Quogue author Denise D’Angelo Roland, does not consider herself “a mainstream author” of children’s literature. A teacher for eight years at Southampton Intermediate School until her first son was born in 2013, she recently returned to teaching at Eastport South Manor Junior Senior High School after the youngest of her three children turned 4.
Explaining why she became an author, Ms. Roland wrote in an email: “I am a teacher and a mother who really felt the need to start talking to families about the importance of creating focused family times in our households. It has become so apparent that technology and the digital era is interfering with our ability to bond and wholly connect with our children, without distraction (myself included). I feel passionately about this topic, because I sincerely believe that it is changing the relationships that we have within our homes—and also the way that our children perceive healthy human relationships.”
“When I looked for children’s books that could speak to this issue, I was not able to find any that seemed to convey the message that I wanted to. So—I wrote my own. The intention was to create a dialogue with my own children, particularly since my daughter had recently asked me to ‘put your phone down’ and pay attention to her.”
The synopsis of the book on the Mom’s Choice blog reads: “Kate loves to look at her tablet. Mama feels concerned. Children today seem to prefer looking at screens more than enjoying the outdoors and free play with one another. Every place they go, Kate seems to be looking down at her screen. Even at school, Kate uses a device. At first, Kate feels that Mama is overreacting. But, after some personal reflection and deeper thinking, Kate connects the dots and finds understanding in Mama’s plea.”
A few months after its January 2020 self-published release on Amazon, “Please, Look up at Me” is now in the process of being edited and published by Mascot Publishing. There is also a second book, “Papa’s Gift,” on the way and currently in production. Both books offer a message of prioritizing human connectedness in the digital era.
The positive feedback that Ms. Roland received when “Please, Look Up at Me” came out showed her that “the topic is one that truly resonates with everyone” and provided the encouragement she needed to start the Intentionally Unplugged initiative. To find out more, readers can click here; Facebook users can search for @intentionallyunplugged. The author and her book were also featured in a February 25 Fox News Report readers can see by clicking here; or read a February 4 article in The Southampton Press, by clicking here.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Roland was scheduled to present at the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE), the Westhampton Library, Quogue Library, BookHampton, Yoga Reaches Out, and other venues. Even though these events have all been postponed, she wrote that she still remains dedicated to spreading the word about the Intentionally Unplugged initiative. “My end goal has never been about the books,” she wrote, “but about a passion for revealing the importance of digital health for children and their families.”
And so it goes in the time of the novel coronavirus today.
The Mayor’s Corner: Rumblings on Reopening; Thanks to Village Teams
The May 12 letter to Quogue Village residents from Mayor Peter Sartorius offered a general update, hopeful signs, and helpful links on New York State reopening plans; a word of caution on protecting against car theft; and a well deserved salute to the men and women of the QPD, the QFD, Village Highway crews, and Village Hall staffers.
Remember, readers who are not already receiving Hizzoner’s letters can send an email to ABuhl@villageofquogueny.gov and ask to be put on the email list. The other way to see the most current, and all the Mayor’s letters, is to go to www.villageofquogueny.gov and click on Announcements (www.villageofquogueny.gov/polAnnouncements.cfm). While on the Village website, be sure to check out the home page for other news and Covid-19 updates.
Highlights of the Mayor’s letter this week include:
Switching from Pause to Forward—As different regions of the state meet the necessary criteria, New York Pause will give way to New York Forward and reopening will start to unfurl in prescribed stages. A new dashboard showing criteria to be met and the stages of reopening, along with a booklet about the New York Forward phase of dealing with the pandemic is available by clicking here, or going to www.governor.ny.gov/news/amid-ongoing-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-announces-three-regions-new-york-state-ready. New York Forward also has its own new website, at https://forward.ny.gov.
Meanwhile, in our area, it looks like there’s good news coming down for tennis players and other outdoor sports, as well as some loosening of the rules for landscapers and builders. Fingers crossed.
The Mayor also promised that plans for the operation of the Village Beach will be released later this week. Stay tuned.
Keep Cars Safe—After a week in which one expensive car was stolen from a resident’s driveway (thankfully recovered in New Jersey) and police stopped a car occupied by individuals with rap sheets matching the profiles of suspected car thieves, the Mayor urged everyone to be alert to the danger and make sure keys or fobs are removed from vehicles and doors locked at night.
Hats Off to Village Teams—First citing the response of QPD officers to a non-Covid-19 related 911 call, the Mayor went on to note that: “Throughout the pandemic, the work of the police department and all of our employees has been exemplary. Chris Osborne has basically been working out of his truck with his computer on Code Enforcement matters so that we can maintain appropriate distancing in the office. Bill Nowak and Tom Snodgrass continue to process applications and do inspections for the limited building that is still going on.”
“The Highway Department, despite working in split shifts, has cleaned debris from the beach, completed the spring leaf pickup, and accomplished numerous other projects throughout the spring. The Village Office staff has rotated days in the office with working at home and, along with the administrative assistant for the police department, done its usual fine job interfacing with residents.
“Finally, our volunteer fire department has managed effective responses to fire calls and very dangerous carbon monoxide alarm calls while modifying its usual procedures to reduce the chances of exposure of its members to the coronavirus. Our great thanks go out to all these individuals.”
At Quaquanantuck joins the Mayor and all residents in saluting these men and women who keep the village running smoothly, look after us and keep us safe, and contribute so much to the strength and health of our community.
Good to Go: Dining Out at Home
Even the most talented home chefs can use a break now and then, and many area restaurants have adapted to meet the new demand under the New York Pause rules. The systems are roughly the same at these four popular restaurants; check the websites or call for specifics.
Joe’s American Grill on Montauk Highway in Westhampton Beach is preparing pretty much everything on the regular menu for pickup seven days a week. Visit www.joesamericangrill.com/; call 631-288-3232.
Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue is open for take-out Wednesday through Sunday, with wood fired pizzas available on Sundays, weather permitting. For hours and information on ordering, visit www.stonecreekinn.com; call 631-653-6770.
The Inn Spot on the Bay just north of the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays has its food truck open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with soups and “retail meals” available on Mondays and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. For ordering and pickup procedures, visit www.theinnspot.com; call 631-728-1200.
Dockers Waterside on Dune Road in East Quogue is offering food truck and curbside takeout service Friday through Sunday. For complete menu and ordering and pickup procedures, visit www.dockerswaterside.com; call 631-653-0653.
Up and Down Jessup Avenue
Fans of Beth’s Café (opposite the Quogue Club at the corner of Quogue Street and Jessup Avenue) will be relieved to know that a sign went up in the front window this week announcing that the café will be opening “sometime in June with a limited menu of take out lunch, catered family meals (dinners for pick up), and a variety of our delicious prepared foods and fresh juices. Yes, that will include the curry chicken salad and pasta salad!” Stay tuned for promised updates.
The Quogue Market appears to still be on track for a “soft opening” in one week, on Friday, May 22. Great to have a local resource for grocery items and prepared foods in these stay-close-to-home days.
Always in step with the times and the seasons, Grace Davidson at Double Rainbow is keeping (suddenly extremely popular) jigsaw puzzles in stock and always ordering new ones. She reported this week that scooters, built for ages 2 to adult, are a new feature for the shop.
Also in stock are a variety of Lego sets, summer toys such as kites, pool toys, floats, aqua sphere swim goggles for children and adults, diving toys, yard toys, volleyballs, soccer and basketballs, beach toys and more.
Shoppers will also find Melissa & Doug, board games, a variety of candy. And, happily, Grace announced that “ice-cream will be here soon.” Double Rainbow will deliver locally or ship orders. Curbside pick up is also available.
The Nature Corner: Draw a Screech Owl with #qwrnaturenews
Steadfast in this time of social distancing, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge remains devoted to bringing educational programs to local residents. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m. the new Nature News program is live on Facebook with QWR animals and staff presenting a short segment of fun and education, #qwrnaturenews.
Tune in today, Thursday, May 14, at 1 p.m. with a pencil and paper at the ready and learn to draw a screech owl with Refuge educator Tony Valderama. The program typically 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. For more information on the program, click here.
Remember that although the Nature Center and facilities are closed, the trails at the QWR remain open, to counterclockwise single direction access only and with adequate social distancing and other protocols required.
Library Hosting Book and Opera Discussions via Zoom
Quogue Library programs of note this week include a discussion of the Giacomo Puccini opera “La Boheme” and a performance of one of Mimi’s arias on Saturday, May 16, at 4 p.m., and an Adult Book Club discussion of “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett, as well as the books and dates for June, July and August discussions, on Sunday, May 17, at noon.
Register and obtain login info for these programs by emailing email@example.com.
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.