The summer that, thanks to Covid-19, never really got to wind up … is now winding down in the last two weeks before Labor Day, just as in years past when there were no coronavirus protocols or social distancing restrictions.
And even though it looks like there will be no clear Labor Day line of demarcation in population this year, between “the season” and the “off-season,” even though many people will continue to work remotely from their homes or rentals on the East End, even though some college students will be staying home and taking online classes remotely, still there seem to be fewer cars on the road, fewer people on the beach, more parking places available on village and hamlet main streets. It’s quieter.
And although even now, six months in, no one knows how this thing will shake out, some patterns remain intact. Is there some significance in that? No one knows. We wait. We watch. We try to keep safe. We take it one day at a time. We know that kindness counts. We hope.
And so it goes in the days of the novel coronavirus today.
Mayor’s Corner: Covering the Bases
In his two most recent email updates for Quogue residents, Mayor Peter Sartorius did his usual fine job of summarizing important information and sharing links for further guidance on a number of pertinent issues.
Hot topics addressed in last week’s email included: the availability of mail-in voting for the November election (www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html) and the ability of the U.S. Post Office to handle the related mail in a timely way; options for early voting, including at the Stony Brook Southampton campus between October 24 and November 1; registering to vote in Quogue, or changing your voter registration to Quogue, with guidance on deadlines; an update on states on the quarantine list for travelers arriving in New York; and such miscellany as the return of recreational bowling as an option, anecdotal observations on mask wearing (or not) among the younger set, and the (limited) reopening of gyms.
This week’s email revisited the ever-changing quarantine list (Delaware is off, again, as of this writing); broached the topic of the need for rental applications for long term rentals, even in the off-season; and disclosed that a committee to carry out the mandates set forth in Governor Cuomo’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative has been formed. The “Police Reform Initiative” can be reviewed at www.villageofquogueny.gov/polAnnouncements.cfm. Comments on the initiative and suggestions for the committee’s consideration can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mayor also addressed in this week’s email an array of guidelines and beginning dates for lower-risk and higher-risk school sponsored sports; attempting to decipher this information gave At Quaquanantuck a brain cramp. Noting the amount of confusion among students, parents, and the general public about how, when, or if schools will be opening this fall, Hizzoner seized the opportunity to salute, and express tremendous gratitude to the “very able and dedicated” Quogue School Superintendent Jeff Ryvicker, whose job it is to sort out all of these issues safely and responsibly. At Quaquanantuck concurs wholeheartedly with the Mayor’s sentiments.
For those who are not yet on the Village’s email address list, the easiest way to see the most current, and all the Mayor’s letters, is to go to www.villageofquogueny.gov and click on Announcements. Once again, to receive Hizzoner’s email blasts, send an email to ABuhl@villageofquogueny.gov and ask to be put on the email list.
Postmaster Yaira Rodriguez Moving On after 21 Years of Service
Perhaps the most significant news item in either of the most recent email blasts from the Mayor is the announcement that Postmaster Yaira Rodriguez, who has been in charge of the U.S. Post Office in Quogue for the past 21½ years, will be leaving Quogue to take over the postmaster’s position in Holtsville, significantly closer to her home, likely by next week.
Ms. Rodriguez’s record of dedicated service during her tenure as postmaster is beyond impressive. Residents who moved to Quogue or purchased homes here in the last 20 years have never seen anyone else in the post. Longtime residents of Quogue who were children when Ms. Rodriguez stepped into the position now have children of their own.
Bill Clinton was the U.S. President when she started in Quogue and she has served through the two terms of George W. Bush, two terms of Barack Obama, and four years of Donald Trump’s presidency. Twenty-one Christmas seasons and attendant holiday card and parcel panic attacks; 21 IRS income tax deadlines; millions of pieces of mail; mountains and mountains and more mountains of recycling junk mail. Twenty-one years of adapting to the massive, Bay of Fundy ebb and flow of seasonal population.
Through it all, she has consistently gone above and beyond the requirements of her job description in her efforts to help Quogue residents with any and all issues related to sending and receiving their mail.
Then came Covid-19. If there can be said to be degrees of “essential,” the Post Office—the crucial circulatory system of our nation, lately rendered slightly anemic by electronic mail and private shipping services—became even more essential than anyone could have imagined once the word came down to shelter in place and stay at home.
The village population swelled to almost summer levels, with many new renters trying to establish a mailing address in Quogue for the first time. Packages mailed to General Delivery filled the back of the building, while boxholders struggled to adapt to safety protocols by ordering needed supplies online and unavoidably further clogging delivery lines. All too often, Ms. Rodriguez and her staff were on the receiving end of the abrasive release of pent up frustrations on the part of impatient postal patrons. They never buckled, never snapped.
Instead, following the postmaster’s lead, they stepped up, as they always have, to keep the mail moving. Typically with a smile.
The timing of Ms. Rodriguez’s job change was propitious. She said in a brief interview this week that she was notified of her assignment to be the Holtsville postmaster on July 31. On August 6, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted a management hiring freeze, which Ms. Rodriguez said means that the postmaster vacancy opening in Quogue with her departure—and any other postmaster vacancies across the country—will not be filled until sometime in the future, presumably after the major reorganization that Mr. DeJoy announced at the same time as the hiring freeze.
Ms. Rodriguez said that instead of appointing a new postmaster for Quogue, the USPS will assign an “officer in charge” of the village post office to take over when she leaves, which she said “should be next week sometime.”
At Quaquanantuck salutes Ms. Rodriguez, and all the USPS staffers who keep our Post Office running smoothly, no matter what the challenges. It is hoped that all village residents will stop by to thank the departing postmaster for her years of truly dedicated service and wish her well in her new position. There are only a few days left to do so, apparently, so it might mean waiting on line with your mask on. Considering her record, her willingness, and all the help she has given to countless local postal patrons over the years, it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.
QWR Full Moon Night Hike September 1; Private Group Paddling September 2
Returning to the realm of the actual for about 90 minutes, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge will host a Full Moon Night Hike social distance program on Tuesday, September 1, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
During the walk through the forest up to North Pond and back, adults and families with children age 11 and up—wearing the requisite masks/face coverings—will look and listen for nocturnal creatures and undertake some night vision activities under the light of September’s Full Corn Moon.
This program is $5 for Wildlife Refuge members; $10 for non-members, due at the time of registration. Reservations, by telephone (631-653-4771) or online by clicking here, are required at least 24 hours in advance.
On Wednesday, September 2, the QWR will offer another social distance program in the realm of the actual with a reprise of this summer’s Private Group Paddle Day.
Groups, households and families are invited to register for one of three private time slots (10:30 to noon; 12:30 to 2; or 2:15 to 3:45) to enjoy exploring Old Ice Pond via kayak or canoe. Each group will be partially guided by a naturalist, allowing some time to free paddle.
Paddlers will have a chance to observe the various species of freshwater fish, turtles, and birds that live in and around this 100+ year old pond originally created for ice harvesting for the Quogue Ice Company. A scavenger hunt/ID chart will be available. This program will be weather dependent.
Families/households/groups must pre-register and pre-pay the $250 fee, which covers up to six people ($50 for each additional person). Single kayaks, double kayaks, and canoes will be determined prior to each group’s arrival based on the individuals in the party.
For more information about the program and to register, visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.org or call 631-653-4771.
To make donations to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, click here or visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.org and click on Wild Night Appeal. You can also use the QWR “text to donate” app for smart phone users; simply by text QWR2020 to 202-858-1233. The new app leads users to a simple donation form, right on their cell phones.
The younger cast of the Quogue Junior Theater Troupe put the finishing touches on their production of “We’re All in This Together” in rehearsals this week. Clockwise from left: the full cast wearing special QJTT t-shirts; the boys perfect their dance routine for a number from “Spamalot”; the girls scrub the floor for “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” from “Annie.” —Sue Prior Photos
Quogue Library Wraps Virtual Program on Classical Music
This summer’s newly retitled “Intro to Classical Music” series continues with the third and final installment on Saturday, August 29, at 4 p.m.: “Can You Keep a Secret?: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6.”
The three lectures of the virtual series were designed for those who might be less familiar with opera and classical music but would like to know more. Everyone logging in for the virtual program will get an inside look from the maestro’s perspective, while conducting along with an animated orchestra.
To register for this program, email email@example.com and request the Zoom login information.
The next Zoom discussions of the newly formed Anti-Racism Book Club will be held on Tuesday, September 8, and Tuesday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. The discussions will focus on the book “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
To register for Quogue Library virtual programs, go to www.quoguelibrary.org and click on the appropriate flier for Zoom login registration. Clicking on the “I Hate Classical Music” flier will direct you to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Eugene Healy: Recent Paintings” at Quogue Gallery
On view until September 30, “Eugene Healy: Recent Paintings,” featuring 23 new paintings by the artist, is the final show of summer 2020 at the Quogue Gallery.
“Many of Healy’s paintings are abstractions of shore scenes, being places that have evoked particular moods and feelings in the artist,” notes Peter Hastings Falk, Chief Curator and Editor of Discoveries in American Art. “And it is those feelings that he so effectively materializes with mediums ranging from oil, watercolor, encaustic, oil crayon, lacquers, and colored pencil applied to fragments of canvas, boards, and paper.”
Reverend Canon Michael Ambler Leads Atonement Virtual Service
The Reverend Canon Michael Ambler will officiate virtually at the Morning Prayer service of the Church of the Atonement on Sunday, August 30, at 9 a.m. All those wishing to obtain login information for the Zoom platform are requested to send an email to email@example.com.
Reverend Ambler, who often visits with family in Quogue, is Canon to the Ordinary Diocese of Maine in Portland and is the former Rector of Grace Church in Bath, Maine.
A member of the choir and an acolyte at the Church of the Atonement as a child, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. He and his wife, Darreby, have three children: one son, Michael III, is a political campaign consultant; their son John works for TIST, an international development and conservation company; and their daughter Elizabeth (Elle is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Atonement, a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, welcomes worshippers of all faiths. Atonement organist and choir director Patricia Osborne Feiler provides the music for the virtual Morning Prayer services. This Sunday’s 9 a.m. service will be recorded for later viewing on the church’s website (Quoguechurch.org).
Moving On from Machu Picchu, Moley Envisions New Water Feature
Longtime readers of this column may remember a few years back when Quogue Quips film auteur and local visionary Roger Moley decided to remake his yard in the image of the 15th century Inca citadel Machu Picchu.
Inspired by a visit to the site in southern Peru with his family, and weary of the flatness of eastern Long Island, he prepared to undertake one of the largest earth moving and giant stone masonry projects in history in order to achieve on only a slightly smaller scale an approximation of the 7,970 foot mountain ridge and the mysterious ancient structures positioned near the summit. When he realized how long the work would take, however, and how much it would disrupt the tranquility of his neighborhood, he willingly abandoned his dream for the sake of the community.
Readers will no doubt be happy to learn that Roger’s visionary spirit is still alive and well, though, thanks to the inspiration he received from the photo above he took recently of a rainbow near his home. Since he has always considered a residence in Quogue to be the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, he began investigating the physics of maintaining a rainbow over his house full time.
His research indicated that full-time rainbows are typically only seen in the vicinity of large scale waterfalls, and that gave him the idea for creating a substantial water feature in his backyard. Roger is currently looking into ways to reroute and recirculate millions of gallons of fresh water daily from the Pine Barrens aquifer into his planned waterfall.
Once he works out the details of the design—and the engineering of significantly varying the elevation of his property—he expects that round-the-clock work on the new project should be completed by sometime in 2023. And while he has conceded that, like the Machu Picchu project, building the new water feature will require clearing some hurdles with the Zoning Board of Appeals, and will inevitably disturb some of his neighbors, he believes any unhappiness will evaporate when the community gasps with wonder at the majesty of Moley Falls, and the perpetual rainbow and beacon of hope glowing in the sky above it.
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.