Honoring a promise made to the late Quogue Village Historian and keeper of the flame Pat Shuttleworth, At Quaquanantuck is happy to share once again—even if it’s not in newsprint that can be put up on the refrigerator anymore—its annual reflection on just a few of the many things for which all of us who are lucky enough to spend time in this blessed community can be truly grateful.
With so many challenges confronting us on all sides in this year’s perfect storm of pandemic and politics, along with a volcanic eruption of natural disasters and molten social issues, it is more important than ever that we understand just how fortunate we are to be living in Quogue, so that we might better show compassion and generosity to those who are not so blessed.
With beachfront erosion even under the best of circumstances a constant threat, we can all be extremely thankful that 2020 was another off year for hurricanes making a direct hit on the eastern seaboard. Still, we must always honor the lessons of the past by remaining vigilant, heeding evacuation warnings, and following safety protocols when a major storm has the East End even tangentially in its sights. And bear in mind that there have now been 30 named storms — 13 of them hurricanes —in 2020, breaking a record set in 2005. It’s not a question of if another major storm will hit Long Island, only when.
We can be thankful for, and humbled by, the courage and community spirit of the members of the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department and all first responders, ready to make whatever sacrifices are called for to ensure the safety and protect the property of all residents.
And we can be grateful for the certainty that once we get past the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the fire department, which has continued to give fire safety lessons to Quogue School students, will resume all the activities and programs that help give our village its identity and that have been sorely missed this year: the Halloween Ghost Parade, support services for Santa’s visit to the Village Green, the Easter Egg hunt, the annual Open House, and the traditional pancake breakfast at the firehouse on Thanksgiving weekend.
Likewise we can be thankful that we are blessed with the talented teams of people who work for the Village of Quogue and serve in village government, in the Village Office, on the police force, and out on the roads and bays: their dedication to helping us all keep safe through the pandemic and their community spirit translate into the best possible quality of life for all of us.
We can be grateful that our beautiful Community Hall has been, and will be again, a center for the performing arts on eastern Long Island, home to the Quogue Junior Theater Troupe and the Hampton Theatre Company as well as the Quogue Chamber Music series and special Westhampton Garden Club programs, all possible because of the support of the fine folks in Village Hall, donors, subscribers and volunteers, and the creative people dedicated to making theater and presentations of the highest quality to honor this support.
We can give thanks that the Quogue School has been certified as one of the best on the East End—and in all of New York State—courtesy of the caring and committed teachers, administrators, support staff and the Parent Teacher Association all working together to create a truly superlative and nurturing educational experience, all while meeting or exceeding the highest standards of elementary school education.
Our village is blessed, too, with the fantastic Quogue Library, which has never missed a step in serving as the cultural beating heart of the village, even while the major makeover of the library building has been underway: first by presenting live programs at the Firehouse, courtesy of the QFD, and then, when the pandemic hit, switching to the virtual realm.
Give credit for that to an enthusiastic and thoroughly engaged board of directors and an accomplished and helpful staff. The overwhelming support and vote of confidence that the library received for the project was clearly offered in recognition of the vital role the library has in binding our community together, across generations, different viewpoints and disciplines.
Another jewel of our village is the Quogue Historical Society, managing and curating the artifacts and accounts of Quogue’s storied history dating back to the 17th century for the benefit of young and old, today and for generations to come.
On the northern border of our village sits another reason to be thankful: the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, where—thanks to the Southampton Town Wildfowl Association, the village, the town, and thousands of supporters since 1934—all are welcome to wander and experience and learn about the unspoiled natural beauty of this area, the flora and fauna and hundreds of direct links to the spirit of Quogue’s past.
Although the Westhampton Garden Club doesn’t have our village name in its title, Quogue is clearly ever-present in the hearts and minds of its members. The WGC established and maintains all the public gardens in Quogue, including the flowers and greenery at the Village Green; the historic garden at the Quogue Library; and the Butterfly Garden at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, calling attention to “The Pollinators” and threats to the monarch butterfly and bee populations, among others. The WGC has also brought renowned speakers to the village, offering engaging and compelling programs that have packed the Community Hall.
Need more? How about the Quogue Association? Nothing inspires gratitude like the efforts of a group of people who get together to inform, educate, do good works, and throw great parties based on a shared love for the place where they live. It is incumbent upon all of us who care about our village—and is there anyone who doesn’t?—to join or donate to the Quogue Association, or if you are already a member, to renew your membership right away, at quogueassociation.org.
The beautiful, tree-lined “business district” of our village, on Jessup Avenue and out to Montauk Highway, has never been more vibrant, with a wondrous makeover of the Quogue Country Market, which will now be open year-round, and shops like Double Rainbow, Homespun, the Little Q Quogue Shop, Quogue Liquors, Blown Away Dry Bar and Salon, Flowers by Rori and Jen Going Interiors offering a range of goods and services to delight all ages and tastes. The beautiful private Quogue Gallery is another jewel in the necklace of our business district; a socially distanced opening reception for “Lauren Lyons: Bender of Fiction” is scheduled this weekend, on Saturday, November 28, from noon to 7 p.m., with only five visitors allowed in the gallery at any one time. Masks and social distancing required.
Continue with the checklist: The Post Office, the Board of Election volunteers, the Village Dock and boat launching ramps, the expanded Village Beach facility and the drawbridge that provides access to it, the Quogue Cemetery Association: all of these places and institutions and the people who work for them and who make them work so well: all of these contribute essential and cultural services, texture and color to make Quogue truly beautiful, and unique.
At Quaquanantuck is aware that these are the most obvious elements of life in our village that prompt our gratitude. Photos and news items regularly sent in to this column by readers over the course of the year offer a more nuanced picture. It is hoped that readers will continue this practice; please send news and social items, comments and observations, and photos (in Large size if taken on a smartphone) to AtQuaq@gmail.com.
On a personal note, At Quaquanantuck is sincerely grateful to all the people who have shown their appreciation for this column by sending in payments for voluntary one-year “subscriptions,” so that the column, now posted monthly, can continue to be accessed for free by all who care to read it.
Seeing the health crisis and economic havoc wrought by the pandemic in our nation and around the world, seeing so much conflict and so many forced to flee their homes in countries around the globe, and seeing so many challenges facing so much of the world today, may we all be ever mindful of all the natural beauty and all of the many blessings we share in this village as we celebrate this holiday of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!