Maybe it’s the fact that the light is now holding back the shadows by lingering just a little bit longer every day. Or maybe it’s that these noticeably longer days point to the time one month from now when we’ll be setting the clocks ahead and getting a whole, blessed extra hour. And the knowledge that that day, March 14, is just one week away from the vernal equinox and the official beginning of spring, no matter what the groundhogs saw or didn’t see on February 2.
Maybe it’s the weird but wonderful historic occasion of a poet who inspired thousands at the recent Presidential inauguration being invited to read an original poem honoring honorary captains for their service before Super Bowl LV. Perhaps it’s because, however haltingly, the Covid vaccines are starting to roll out and new cases are finally declining after the horrifying recent spike.
Or maybe it’s the fact that the holiday next Monday, February 15, reminds us that the office of President of these United States is the highest honor and privilege for a public servant that should be revered and never reviled.
Whatever the reason, At Quaquanantuck is feeling, with no small amount of trepidation, the first tingling sensation of hope, dormant and numb for so long, starting to come back to life. Battered into unconsciousness by all the calamitous events of the past year, it is a fragile sensation. And, things being what they still are, it will be a long while before hope can really flourish and grow. So, to help it along, this month’s column is dedicated to the powerful Maori proverb: “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
The road ahead is far from being paved with sunshine and filled with unicorns and rainbows. But At Quaquanantuck, at least for this month’s column anyway, will be focusing on the good news and positive efforts of those in our community. Because that’s where the light is.
QHS Illustrated Zoom Talk on LI Whaling History
One of the great bits of good news in Quogue this week is that there’s still time to register for a fascinating illustrated Zoom talk tonight on “The History of Whaling on Long Island” sponsored by the fabulous folks at the Quogue Historical Society. The talk begins this evening, Thursday, February 11, at 7 p.m.; register in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a confirmation email and Zoom link. The QHS will send a reminder email one hour before the presentation.
As island dwellers around the world have always known, their identity is defined as much by the waters surrounding them as anything that happens on land. Locally, for hundreds of years both before and after the arrival of European settlers, the hunting of whales played a monumental role in shaping Long Island’s history.
In this evening’s presentation, Bill Bleyer, author of “Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History,” will explore whaling in the 18th and 19th century, from offshore whaling by Native Americans to the first American whaling companies in Southampton. The discussion will also cover the rise of industrial-scale whaling in Sag Harbor, Greenport, and Cold Spring Harbor, and whaling captain Mercator Cooper’s remarkable voyage in 1853 to the then-closed society of Japan.
Mr. Bleyer will also explain how the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania led to the demise of the whaling industry, which at its height was the fifth largest sector of the American economy.
A Pulitzer-prize winning former staff writer for Newsday, Mr. Bleyer is also the author of “Sagamore Hill: Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House”; “Fire Island Lighthouse: Long-Island’s Welcoming Beacon”; and co-author, with Harrison Hunt, of “Long Island and the Civil War.”
But wait; there’s more! The Quogue Historical Society and QHS Curator and Southampton Town Historian Julie Greene have provided some wonderful local context for tonight’s Zoom talk, outlining “The Golden Age of Whaling in Quogue.”
As Ms. Greene wrote: “Beginning in 1790 as the population of whales close to home declined, the chase for whale oil broadened to the Pacific and Arctic. A number of Quogue families bought shares in these deep sea voyages. Some men joined as crew and quite a few became captains, including Henry Gardiner, Frederick M. Hallock, Edward Stephens, and members of the Cooper family. These men made long trips—years at a time—sailing down the Atlantic, around Cape Horn, and into the waters of the Pacific. Many were extremely successful, amassing fortunes and building grand homes in Quogue.”
“Capt. Henry Gardiner sailed the Ship ‘Dawn’ out of New York City on several voyages, including one in 1826 with his wife Polly, considered to be the first woman to accompany her husband on a whaling voyage.” More on this revelation later.
Ms. Greene also included this startling entry from Capt. Henry Gardiner’s Whaling Log from the Ship “Dawn,” 1821-1824: “I for the first time in my course of whaling got knocked out of the boat, I got a good thump from a whale under water, however getting no further damage, thank God.”
Hard to say which is more unnerving: the truly terrifying and life-threatening incident being reported, or the matter-of-fact, ho hum tone of Captain Henry’s entry.
Providing further context, in a late addition to the announcement/reminder of tonight’s Zoom talk Ms. Greene gave this account of “The Art of Scrimshaw,” starting with this description from The Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. London: Routledge, 2003:
“Scrimshaw is the whalers’ art of making decorative and practical objects out of sperm whale teeth, skeletal bone, walrus tusks, and baleen. This genre of maritime folk art arose during the 1820s and was only one of many diversions to alleviate boredom at sea, but it typifies both the genesis of sailor diversions in occupational circumstances, and the characteristically practical aspect of nautical arts.
“Long voyages, infrequent landfalls, and chronic over-manning in the whale fishery, and the fact that hazardous hunting and butchering operations could be accomplished effectively only in daylight, created an overabundance of leisure time. Many captains were grateful for any harmless amusements that kept idle crews out of trouble and occupied.”
Ms. Greene added: “The Quogue Historical Society’s collection of scrimshaw, donated over the years by the whaling families of Quogue—Gardiner, Post, Cooper, Stevens, and Hallock—attests to our Village’s strong whaling heritage. The collection includes whale teeth and tusks, as well as more than 20 utilitarian pieces, from sewing and embroidery needles, fids, jagging wheels and swifts, to fanciful carved pieces, a silk embroidered fan, ladies’ parasols, and men’s walking sticks. The scrimshaw craft reached its peak during the years 1830-1850.”
Now, let’s get back to that voyage in 1826 when Capt. Henry Gardiner took his wife Polly a-whaling. At Quaquanantuck doesn’t know much more about whaling in the 1800s than could be learned from reading “Moby Dick.” Still, it seems clear that a long voyage on any sailing ship in 1826 would be a trial and a challenge for any wife, let alone months at sea with zero comforts in all weathers, spent in the company of men hunting and butchering whales and “trying” the oil out of their blubber over fires on the deck. Not to mention the “no small risk of being eternally stove and sunk” by an understandably pissed off whale.
Because such a voyage, and indeed such a marriage, is, in fact, almost impossible to conceive of from our present-day vantage point, At Quaquanantuck, in honor of Valentine’s Day, is inviting readers to engage their imaginations, go a-whaling in their minds, and submit a short scene (no more than 250 words) between Capt. Henry and his wife Polly, say midway through their historic whaling voyage together. They can be anywhere on the ship at any time of day; you decide. Please send scenes (as a Word document) to AtQuaq@gmail.com by the first week of March for consideration to be published in the March 11 edition of the column.
Whether or not readers opt to create and submit a short scene, with Valentine’s Day coming up on Sunday, the timing might be right for a bit of role play. Readers with partners can take turns playing Capt. Henry and his brave and adventurous bride Polly and try to determine who is really in charge … of the ship, that is. Ahem.
First February Storm Stole Stairs from Village Beach
Shortly after the first major winter storm of the season cut across the country and pounded Long Island on February 1, Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius acknowledged in an email to village residents what many had feared: the stairs at the Village Beach had been swept away.
As a result, “the beach is not accessible at the Village Beach and will not be until well into spring,” the Mayor wrote, further asking residents to “Please use common sense and do not go out on the walkway or climb out on the dunes or on the sandbags. You will only make a bad situation worse and could get seriously hurt. You can still go to the Village Beach and enjoy the view from the deck.”
The good news from Hizzoner is that residents can still access the sandy shoreline of the beach on foot via the cut at the southern end of Beach Lane adjacent to the Surf Club. As last year, the “No Parking” status will be suspended on that public road for beachgoers, but all are asked to “please take care not to block the overpass, which is used by vehicles having the necessary beach driving permit and equipment.”
The complete text of the Mayor’s February 4 email is on the Announcements page of the Quogue Village website, www.villageofquogueny.gov.
Quogue Village Police Award Recipients
Right in line with the February theme of increased light and positive energy, At Quaquanantuck was delighted to receive from Police Chief Chris Isola the announcement of this year’s Quogue Village Police Department award recipients.
The Officer of the Year for 2020 is a five-year veteran of the force, Ronan Seltenreich, who also received two Life Save awards and one Exceptional Police Service Award 2nd Degree in 2020. “All of our officers are outstanding and do terrific work every day,” Chief Isola said. “Officer Seltenreich was our standout this year and was very deserving of this year’s award.”
Additional award recipients for 2020 included: Sergeant John Galvin, two Life Save awards; Sergeant Daniel Bennett, one Life Save award and one Headquarters Commendation; Officer Robert Hammel, one Life Save award and two Exceptional Police Service award 2nd Degree; Detective William Gladding, three Exceptional Police Service Awards 2nd Degree and one Exceptional Police Service Award 3rd degree; Lieutenant Daniel Hartmann, Headquarters Commendation; and Administrative Assistant Jennifer Vargas, Headquarters Commendation.
At Quaquanantuck joins with the entire village in saluting the award winners, Chief Isola, and all who serve in the department, with gratitude for their exceptional service during an extraordinarily challenging year.
Fun-Filled February at Quogue Wildlife Refuge
The shortness of the month and winter weather (not to mention that pestilence that shall not be named) are no deterrents to creative thinking, fun for kids, and engaging programs for all ages over at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Halfway through the month already and still ahead are: a webinar today at 4 p.m. on Creating a Wildlife Refuge at Home; the perennial outdoor Winter Wildlife Camp timed to coincide with the Presidents Week school recess; cool virtual programs about turtles, bats, and animal tracking open to all; two premium programs (on February 17 and 24) for QWR members; and two live outdoor programs: a Full Moon Night Hike on February 26 and Winter Birding with Group for the East End on February 27.
The good news is that this year’s Winter Wildlife Camp for children in grades K through five is going forward on Tuesday through Friday, February 16-19. The not-so-good news for aspirational campers who have not already signed up is that the camp is already completely full.
There’s better news, though, in that there’s plenty of availability for the impressive lineup of virtual programs coming up, beginning with All About Turtles on Tuesday, February 16, from 3 to 3:30. This program for children and adults is all about turtles, yes, but also about terrapins and tortoises. Attendees will get to meet a variety of live turtles and tortoises that are cared for at the Refuge.
Chelonian anatomy and physical adaptations will be discussed, as well as what types of native turtles can be found on Long Island. The lesson will include a PowerPoint presentation, as well as the presentation of artifacts such as shells and eggs. Cost is $5; register here or go to quoguewildliferefuge.org and click on Events.
The All About Bats virtual program on Wednesday, February 17, also from 3 to 3:30 p.m., will teach children and adults all about the anatomy and amazing physical adaptations of these too often maligned creatures, the various lifestyles of bats from all over the world, including on Long Island, and their ecological importance to the planet.
The presentation will include a PowerPoint presentation, as well as various artifacts such as taxidermy bats, a bat skeleton, posters, and a bat fossil replica. Cost is $5; register here or go to quoguewildliferefuge.org and click on Events.
The Animal Tracking and Signs of Wildlife virtual program follows on Thursday, February 18, also from 3 to 3:30 p.m., showing children and adults how to track and identify different animals from their footprints and other evidence of their presence or their passage. Cost is $5; register here or go to quoguewildliferefuge.org and click on Events.
The good news for QWR members is that there are two more premium programs just for them, both virtual, coming up as part of Members Appreciation Month. The first is a 15-minute American Kestrel Encounter on Wednesday, February 17, at 4 p.m. Members will be introduced to Moxie the American kestrel and the presentation examine in depth this smallest of all falcons and explain why Moxie resides at QWR and why she is non-releasable.
The next premium program will be a Virtual History Tour of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, February 24, from 4 to 5 p.m. Members who register for the program will learn why and how the QWR was created as a waterfowl sanctuary 87 years ago; the early history of the Refuge and why it was awarded first prize in a National Waterfowl Contest in 1938; how ice was harvested at the Refuge and distributed around the world in the days before refrigeration; and much more, all accompanied by enthralling historical photos.
While both these programs are for 2021 Members only, readers are reminded that it’s never too late to join. Click here to become a member or to renew a membership. To find out more about becoming a 2021 Member of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, or to check the status of your membership, call the QWR office at 631-653-4771.
The Full Moon Night Hike on February 26 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. will be a celebration of the second full moon of the New Year for adults and families with children over 9. The evening guided hike through the forest up to North Pond will provide opportunities to look and listen for nocturnal creatures, and to enjoy some night vision activities under the light of the moon. The cost is $10 for members or $20 for non-members; reservations and payment are required at least 24 hours in advance. Masks and social distancing are required and flashlights are not permitted during the hike.
Capping off the month will be Winter Birding with Group for the East End, a free program for adults and families with children age 7 and older. Steve Biasetti, Director of Environmental Education at Group for the East End, will lead a hike through Refuge trails looking and listening for local birds of the forest. Masks and social distancing protocols will be in effect. To make the required reservations, call 631-653-4771.
In these days of taking advantage of any and all take-out dinner options, the QWR is teaming up with new neighbor and community partner Homeslice Pizza for a great deal. Readers who visit order.homeslicepizza.co and use the code WILD at checkout will receive a 10 percent discount on fully-cooked, frozen wood-fired pizzas that reheat in just 5-8 minutes at home. Then Homeslice will donate 10 percent of each code WILD sale to support Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Readers can enter their address at checkout for delivery, or pick up their pies right here in Quogue. This dandy offer is valid through March 31.
As always, readers should be sure to check the Events page of the QWR website (quoguewildliferefuge.org) regularly for all the details on programs coming up between now and the March 11 posting of At Quaquanantuck.
And, finally, while our village may not be teeming with individuals with the very specific skill set and educational background required for the Animal Caretaker/Environmental Educator job opening at the QWR, readers are invited to email email@example.com to obtain the complete job posting in case they know someone, or someone who knows someone, who might be qualified and interested in applying for the position.
Quogue Market Ready with Gourmet to Go and Valentine’s Special
While continuing to expand and switch up their daily take-out menu offerings, the folks at the Quogue Country Market have come up with a very special four-course prix fixe Valentine’s Dinner for Two.
Priced at $99.88 plus tax, the dinner features a first course of soup for two, Lobster Bisque with Sherry, and a second course of salad for two: Mesclun, Romaine and Arugula lettuces, tossed with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and assorted fresh vegetables, served with mixed berry vinaigrette house dressing.
Diners can select one of three entrée selections, all of which are prepared for two: Seafood and Chicken Paella for two; ChateauBriand with Red Wine Demi-Glace for two served with scalloped potatoes and roasted seasonal vegetables; or Roasted Rack of Lamb for two, served with asparagus and julienned carrots and parsnip mashed potatoes.
The dessert, also for two, naturally, is a chocolate lava cake.
Diners wishing to take advantage of the offer are requested to make reservations today, Thursday, February 11, by calling Peter or Angela at 631-653-4191 or stopping in at the Market.
Any readers who are not already on the Market’s email list can sign up to receive the menu by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you miss the email or don’t have access to the menu, call the Market at 631-653-4191 and they’ll let you know what’s available.
Quogue Library Keeps the Virtual Fires Burning
While awaiting the finishing touches on the extensive renovation and expansion project at the Quogue Street headquarters, the folks at the Quogue Library are busy as ever serving the community with a wide array of interesting, educational, and quality of life enhancing virtual programs for all ages.
First off, in terms of real, physical world considerations, the library is collecting for the Long Island Cares Inc. Harry Chapin Food Bank for the month of February. Thanks to the generosity of a number of patrons, several boxes of non-perishable food items have already been collected. Donations may be dropped off at the Midland Street office, where a list of items needed is posted.
In the virtual programming department, the current schedule continues to have plenty of options. Popular ongoing exercise classes include Pilates on Mondays at 10 a.m. (except on the February 15 holiday) and Sculpting and Cardio Dance for all ages on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., both with instructor Leisa DeCarlo; and Yoga with Jillian for adults and youngsters 8 and up on Fridays at 10 a.m.
Coming up on Saturday, February 13, at 11 a.m. there will be a virtual Poetry Workshop hosted by a former colleague of At Quaquanantuck’s at Stony Brook Southampton, Grace Dilger. Ms. Dilger will examine the difference between a lyric and narrative poem and this exploratory writing workshop will determine how the abstract and concrete become allies in making meaning. The class will review basic techniques of poetry writing followed by prompted writing time and a guided group discussion.
A follow-up class with Ms. Dilger originally scheduled for March 13 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date.
There are two library sponsored Author Talks coming up in the next few weeks. The first, scheduled on Friday, February 19, at 6:30 p.m., will be Roger Rosenblatt reading from and discussing his most recent book, “Cold Moon: On Life, Love and Responsibility,” and the lessons that life teaches over time. Mr. Rosenblatt, Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook Southampton, is the author of six off-Broadway plays and 15 books published in 13 languages. He is also the recipient of the 2015 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, among many other honors.
The second Author Talk, scheduled on Saturday, March 6, at noon, will feature local author Janet Lee Berg discussing her most recent book, “Restitution,” as well as a previous book, “Rembrandt’s Shadow.” Both books are loosely based on the experiences of her family during the Holocaust.
With the class already completely full, registration has closed for the February 12 virtual Paint Night with artist Marie Camenares. There is still space available, though, in chef Rob Scott’s Chinese New Year Cooking Class on Saturday, February 13, at 6 p.m. The class will zero in on the preparation of Dragon Noodles with Vegetables and (optional) Chicken. Ingredients needed are listed on the Zoom registration link here.
On Sunday, February 14, the library’s Adult Book Club will be discussing the latest work by Elena Ferrante, “The Lying Life of Adults” in a Zoom meeting slated at noon. Also on Sunday, all are invited to enjoy “Universal Love Songs” performed by Sheri Miller in a Facebook Live presentation at 2 p.m.
And kids in kindergarten on up can enjoy some special surprises from Ms. Pat during a session of Valentine’s Day Bingo on Sunday, February 14, at 6:30 p.m.
For more information and registration instructions for any of these and other children’s programs, visit the Quogue Library website at quoguelibrary.org and click on the program flier on the home page. Remember that new programs are added regularly, so check the website often to make sure you don’t miss out.
Write America Starts Strong
This week, as the world watches the replay of hundreds of jarring images being screened as evidence in the second impeachment trial of now former President Donald Trump, Write America, the new weekly program dreamed up by writer, teacher and Quogue resident Roger Rosenblatt, had the second of its first two installments.
Courtesy of Book Revue, the independent brick and mortar bookstore in Huntington with a sizeable cyber reach, the series of “weekly readings and conversation about how books and art might bridge the deep divisions in our nation” (offered via Crowdcast every Monday at 7 p.m.) opened on February 1 with two former Poet Laureates, Rita Dove and Billy Collins. This week the featured writers were novelist, short story writer, essayist and critic Francine Prose and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon.
For the Book Revue web page dedicated to Write America, Mr. Rosenblatt wrote this about the mission of the new series:
“Write America is an organization of writers concerned about the divisions in our country that have evidenced themselves and deepened over the past few years. We see a torn America these days, jeopardizing basic principles of justice, freedom, fair play, and equality.
“These principles are important to writers, felt passionately if shown indirectly. They undergird our poems, novels, essays, memoirs, every form in which we attempt to reach out to our human family through the quiet power of art. A writer’s words are a tacit call for people to gather round and discover or rediscover their connections to one another. Writing makes justice desirable, evil intelligible, grief endurable and love possible.
“In this project, then, we have come together to read our work in the interests of life’s nobler values … The nation is injured. We hope to contribute to its healing.”
Asked this week about his reaction to the first two installments, Mr. Rosenblatt wrote in an email:
“Of our first two episodes, so far, so very good, and very different. We could not have hoped for a warmer welcome than Rita Dove and Billy Collins gave everyone. Their poems were characteristically strong and beautiful, and their conversation made one feel good about the hopes and ideas we have in common. This, of course, is the aim of Write America.
“Francine Prose and Paul Muldoon, both gorgeous writers as their readings showed, got more down to the nitty-gritty of the nation’s threats and needs. And the discussion of their respective writing processes was a mini master class in the art. So, two different approaches hovering over the same feeling that we need to look to one another for beauty, usefulness, help, and peace.
“Write America evolves. I have no idea what Alice McDermott, Major Jackson and Russell Banks will give us next Monday, but I’m sure it will be a doozy. And my job is easy. Like any good basketball coach, I put All-Stars on the court, sit back, and look like a genius.”
While At Quaquanantuck will reserve judgment on what exactly Mr. Rosenblatt looks like, this columnist is in complete agreement with his appraisal of the first two installments and is looking forward to all the many insights, colors and textures that future writers will bring to the discussion.
As noted, Write America runs weekly, every Monday at 7 p.m. EST on Book Revue’s Crowdcast channel. All events are free; registration is required at bookrevue.com/write-america-series. A selection of signed titles will be available for purchase with each Write America episode; Book Revue ships worldwide.
The schedule through the beginning of March includes: February 15, acclaimed novelist Russell Banks, award-winning poet Major Jackson, and National Book Award-winner Alice McDermott; February 22, New Yorker writer Patricia Marx and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Doonesbury Garry Trudeau; March 1, Academy Award-winning songwriter Alan Bergman and New Yorker essayist Adam Gopnik; and March 8, Emmy Award winner and author Alan Alda and award-winning writer Arlene Alda.
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. News Items and Photos
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