Oh, My Aching Omicron!

Just when everyone thought that maybe, finally, it wouldn’t be just wishful thinking to imagine that life might be on the cusp of shifting into something at least bearing a slight resemblance to what we remembered from the Before Times … Omicron. 

Quaquanantuck sunset; December 25, 2021. In response to a recurring question, this photo has not been edited. —A. Botsford Photo

At the international level, the variant has been sweeping through like a brush fire in high winds, though charts continue to show the U.S. as perhaps the planet’s biggest concentrated hot spot. Despite clear statistical evidence attesting to vaccination affording better protection against serious illness and hospitalization, confusion and misinformation and even disinformation continue to fuel debate and further entrench opposition to getting the shots. 

At the local level, it seems there is no family or individual that wasn’t affected by the rapid spread of the virus during the holidays. Travel plans waylaid; dinners and family gatherings disrupted; discovery of exposure begetting contact tracing and isolation, begetting testing and reporting and then retesting; and on and on. 

Quogo Neck sunset; December 17, 2021. —Roger Moley Photo

Even so, at times when we are tempted to get bitter or mournful and resentful about the dozens of ways our plans and our lives have been and continue to be derailed by the virus, it would be good take a step back and consider the plight of—and have a good thought for—those who are really bearing the brunt of this next wave. That would be the hospital and health care workers who, without ever getting a real break or chance to recover from the devastating trauma of the first surge, are now quite literally overwhelmed once again, with no respite in sight.  

Consider how their lives and the lives of their families have been affected and surely the disappointments and canceled plans in our lives should pale to the point of disappearing. We should have a good thought for them and offer support in whatever way we can. 

And so it goes in the days of the novel coronavirus today.

It’s nice to think that this makes sense to someone; there seems to be a real lack of certainty. —AB Photo

Two Quogue School Alumni Named to All-Long Island Team
Many thanks to village resident Heather Haynia for sharing some great good news with At Quaquanantuck: Maximus Haynia and Gavin Ehlers, both graduates of the Quogue School who attend Westhampton Beach High School, were named to Newsday’s All-Long Island Boys Cross Country Team for fall 2021. 

Gavin Ehlers, a senior at WHB, was also named Newsday’s Long Island Runner of the Year for his outstanding record at the local, regional and state level. Announcing the roster for the All-Long Island team (click here to see the article) Newsday noted that Max Haynia, a junior at WHB, “was consistently second behind Ehlers on Long Island’s top team.” 

Congratulations to both of these outstanding athletes; and thank you for bringing some light to these difficult times through your achievements.  

Library Shifts Schedule and Programs in Response to Surge
As might be feared and perhaps even expected, the Quogue Library has not been spared the disruptions wrought by Covid’s new chip off the old block. Which is to say that the Omicron variant has left the library short staffed, in addition to making in-person, indoor programs potentially more perilous in terms of transmission of the virus. 

The result is as one might imagine: all programming will be virtual only at least through the end of January. In addition, the library has to limit traditional services to curbside only, during scaled back hours. The temporary schedule, for the time being, is: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; closed Wednesday; Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

To make a curbside pickup request, patrons can click here, or go to the Quogue Library website, www.quoguelibrary.org, and click on the box with the text: Click Here to Reserve Items for Curbside Pickup. At that link, patrons will be asked to fill out a form for curbside pickup requests; a library staffer will call when items are ready for pickup. 

Adrift in a drift, garden gnomes greet the arrival of winter. —Florrie Morrisey Photo

Pickup will be located in front of the library at 90 Quogue Street. Patrons arriving to pick up their items are asked to call 631-653-4224, ext 101.

In line with the Omicron response policy, the library’s January Board of Trustees meeting will be virtual, at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 15. Click here or go to the library website to register. 

Appropriately, under Adult Programs on its home page, the library is offering a connection to free, confidential, and anonymous counseling for anyone feeling overwhelmed during Covid, a joint project of  NYProject Hope and New Horizon Counseling Center. For more information, call 1-855-818-HOPE (4673). 

Weekly group sessions are also offered under the program, on Mondays at noon and 4 p.m. To join, open Google Meet and enter the code: zbs-gkhb-jca.

January is a decidedly good month for indoor pursuits, so it’s great to have follow-along video recipes from The Baking Coach available online this month. The recipes and video demonstrations on tap for January include: French onion soup; creamy baked potato soup; and buttermilk biscuits. The library’s Baking Coach page is here, and on the library website. Hard copies of the recipes will also be available for curbside pickup.   

Virtual exercise options continue via the library website, with Leisa Taylor leading Pilates for Everyone on Monday, January 24, and Monday, January 31. Ms. Taylor will also be leading Follow Along Cardio classes on Tuesday, January 18, and Tuesday, January 25. The fee is $10 per each class; visit the library website or call 631-653-4224, ext. 101, to register. 

Winter Brook

Library patrons looking to get in touch with their spirit guides are in luck: certified psychic medium Winter Brook will be leading a virtual Meet and Greet Your Spirit Guides program today, Thursday, January 13, at 7 p.m. Ms. Brook will explain what spirit guides are and how individuals work with many different ones over the course of their lives. 

Afterwards, Ms. Brook has promised to give mini guide readings to some of the attendees. To learn more about Ms. Brook, and perhaps the certification process for psychic mediums, visit www.winterbrookmedium.com. To register for tonight’s program, click here or click on the Meet Your Spirit Guides box under Adult Programs on the library home page. 

For those patrons who might prefer to be in touch with aspects of the physical world, the library is tapping into an East Hampton Library presentation of a Virtual Tour of the Fire Island National Seashore’s Sunken Forest, also today, and also at 7 p.m. A park ranger will lead the virtual tour of this globally rare maritime holly forest, discussing the resident plants and animals and the natural forces that created this unique ecosystem, as well as the threats it faces today. 

For this program, a Zoom meeting ID and password will be emailed to all participants 15 minutes prior to the start of the event. To register, call the East Hampton Library at 631-324-0222, ext. 3; or visit www.easthamptonlibrary.org. As always, the Quogue Library continues to offer a wide array of programming for younger patrons and families. To see what’s coming up over the next few weeks, or to get more information or register: visit www.quoguelibrary.org and simply click on the flier for any program that catches your interest. In every case, a registration link or instructions on how to register will pop up. Easy.

Snowy owl on a snag near Sebonack Creek. —Florrie Morrisey Photo

Just in Time: Thoughts Turn to Summer at Wildlife Refuge
What better way to greet the new year and the onset of frigid days and nights than to start looking ahead to summer? 

That’s what the folks at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge are doing, sending out an email blast this week announcing that registration is now open for QWR members for all Summer Camp programs: Little Naturalists, ages 4 to 6; Summer Ecology, entering grades 2 to 6; Young Explorers, grades 7 to 9; and Explorers, grades 10 to 12. 

Complete registration instructions are available on the QWR website, but readers should be aware that QWR members at the Family level or above receive priority registration through May 11, 2022. This is a real benefit of membership, since these programs tend to fill up fast. 

Memberships are only valid through the calendar year; so all those who were members last summer who haven’t renewed will need to renew before registering. And bear in mind that Family memberships are only valid for immediate family (parents and children) and not for grandchildren. 

So, get all the info; confirm membership status, gather the required documents; and get the young ones signed up now for the age-appropriate programs at the Refuge this summer. www.quoguewildliferefuge.org 

Between Paula Prentis, her husband Peter Prentis and Peter’s sister, Patricia Prentis, the Prentis family has been provided with a plethora of peripatetic photographers. On January 6, Peter Prentis captured the sunset at the shoreline, above, and sent it to his sister Patricia, who submitted it to At Quaquanantuck. The next day, Paula Prentis got the image below of the beach blanketed in snow just after the flakes stopped flying.

The next Full Moon Night Hike at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge steps off at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 17. Adults and families with children age 11 and up can enjoy an evening hike through the forest up to North Pond while looking and listening for nocturnal creatures and enjoying some night vision activities under the light of the moon. Cost is $10 for QWR members or $20 for non-members; reservations required at least 24 hours prior, as space is limited. 

The evening of Saturday, January 29, has been set aside for another session of Light the Night Winter Trail Walks from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Adults and families are invited to visit quoguewildliferefuge.org/light-the-night to reserve an arrival time for a self-guided, peaceful stroll through the gently illuminated forest trails.

Flashlights are not permitted during the walk. And strollers are reminded that this is a quiet walk, and parents must accompany their children and encourage them to enjoy the trail quietly. 

The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under, with all fees going to support the work of the Refuge. The next evening for Light the Night Winter Trail Walks will be on Saturday, February 12.  

Earth Yoga with Amy Hess returns to the Refuge at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays beginning on February 2. Participants are asked to bring a yoga mat for this one-hour class. Pre-register and pre-pay the $15 fee online or by calling 631-653-4771, as space is limited. 

The class will be held indoors in the Nature Center, so masks will be required. The Nature Center will open at 8:45 a.m. for yoga students who want to arrive early and settle in.

This short-lived snowman was built by Dashiell Deckoff, above, just before the rains came on Sunday, January 9. —Jane Deckoff Photo

On Saturday, February 5, the QWR is planning to host an in-person Seals on Long Island program in the Nature Center at 11 a.m. several species of seals seen in NY waters? A representative from the New York Marine Rescue Center (NYMRC) will discuss the various species of seals seen in New York waters; the best practices when observing seals in their natural environment; how human interaction can negatively affect them; common illnesses and injuries seen in seal patients; and what’s involved in restoring these animals to good health. 

Visitors will have a chance to learn about NYMRC efforts to help these animals in need, and how to get involved in helping protect and preserve the local marine environment.

This is a free program and an RSVP is required as space is limited. All programs are, of course, subject to change based on Covid-19 safety regulations. Masks are required for all visitors to the indoor Nature Center.

For more information or to register, call 631-653-4771 or visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.org

And on Wednesday, February 9, at 6 p.m., the QWR will present a virtual program on the History of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1934, the Refuge has a fascinating origin story, beginning with ice harvesting on the aptly named Ice Pond and the early stages of a nationwide waterfowl conservation movement. The virtual Zoom presentation is a free program for 2022 members in honor of Member Appreciation Month.

To register in advance for this meeting, click here or visit the Refuge website. All those who register will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Sundown behind the dunes. —A. Botsford Photo

Theatre Company Looks Back and Forward
Doing the January thing of looking back at the past year while looking ahead to the new one, the members of the Hampton Theatre Company are counting up the successes of 2021 while hoping to improve on these in 2022. 

Last May, the company finally managed to stage its long-delayed revival of “Sylvia” by A.R. Gurney, albeit playing to houses limited to 30 percent of capacity with a full array of Covid protocols in place. 

Then, in the fall, George Loizides directed a game cast in a stirring production of “Native Gardens” by Karen Zacarias, with no capacity limits for this show. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test within 72 hours were required, and masks covering nose and mouth had to stay in place throughout the performance. 

On December 11, four members of the company—Roger Moley, Rebecca Edana, Amanda Griemsmann, and Andrew Botsford—who had signed up sponsors for the HTC team joined hundreds of others for the Polar Bear Plunge into the icy Atlantic at Cooper’s Beach in Southampton to support the Heart of the Hamptons community food pantry and other good works. Thanks to the generosity of the greater Quogue community, the HTC team raised $3,303, placing fifth in fund-raising among all teams signed up to take the Plunge. 

Coming up next will be a production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s pointed and poignant comedy “Ripcord,” about two women vying for prime real estate in an assisted living facility, opening on March 17 and running through April 3. Andrew Botsford directs.  Auditions will be held on Sunday and Monday, January 16 and 17, and rehearsals are scheduled to start on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Details about the play and auditions, and ticket sales, are on the website, www.hamptontheatre.org

On Sunday, December 26, At Quaquanantuck columnist Andrew Botsford, Lucy Carroll and Veronica Botsford took advantage of the mild conditions for a (very) quick dip. —Barrett Worthington Photo

“Write America” Continues to Shine
Currently Crowdcasting from Byrd’s Books in Bethel, Connecticut, “Write America” continues to offer programs aimed at bridging some of the widening divisions currently eroding the foundations of our republic. 

Always illuminating, informative and inspiring as well as entertaining, the weekly episodes can be relied upon to bring good talk and great insights into whatever space that audiences are receiving them. A recent standout was the special event on Wednesday, January 5, when Al Gore talked with series creator Roger Rosenblatt. 

The good news for devotees as well as those who might be new to the series is that past episodes, including the recent program with Al Gore, can be found by scrolling down on the Byrd’s Books website, www.byrdsbooks.com/write-america.

Coming up on Monday, January 17, at 7 p.m. will be novelist, memoirist and children’s book author Susan Shreve in conversation with Thomas Becker. Mr. Becker served for 32 years as the 17th president of the Chautauqua Institution, the 148-year-old not-for-profit organization dedicated to lifelong learning based on its four pillars of art, education, religion and recreation. 

Gary Trudeau

A very special Write America installment on Monday, January 24, at 7 p.m. will feature genre giants Gary Trudeau and Jules Feiffer in conversation about the art of cartooning.

Frank McCourt

Check the Byrd’s Books website for details on the January 31 and February programs, but be sure to mark the calendar now for the special event on February 9 at 7 p.m. when former two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and novelist and Stony Brook Southampton Provost Robert Reeves honor their late friend and beloved colleague Frank McCourt. 

All programs begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. For more information or to register, visit the Byrd’s Books website at byrdsbooks.com/write-america-reading-our-country

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
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.

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