As a longtime year-rounder I sometimes forget what a great place the East End is to visit. Suffolk County promotes our beaches, wineries, historic villages and golf courses to tourists. We “locals” know that another perk of life on the East End is the fabulous people—both the regulars and our “fair weather neighbors.” The sights and culture truly offer something for every taste. I’m committed to getting back in the swing—or the “swim” of things in 2014 and here’s how I’ll do it:
1. Go to the beach—any beach
Many East Enders rarely soak up the rays seaside. It’s a classic case of the shoemaker’s children going barefoot. We take it for granted that the coast will always be there and that we’ll get there eventually, but reality hits—all summer we’re super busy with work, and in the winter it’s pretty darned cold. Last year I made it to Havens Beach (I can almost hit it with a stone from my house) a whopping twice for an evening stroll with my husband. This year I’m going there in the light of day.
2. Red or white? Yes, please
This year I’m not just going to visit some local wineries; I plan to invest in local wine—by the case. More and more of my friends are joining the Wölffer Estate Wine Club. That could be the one for me, I’m a fan, but I’ll check out the North Fork, too. Love that North Fork experience.
3. It takes a village
I shall re-read Dorothy Zaykowski’s Sag Harbor, The Story of an American Beauty this year. I live in the village; I remember that it has a fascinating history—but not many of the details. I will grow to appreciate it all the more and be prepped to impress visiting friends and family with…the top 14 reasons Sag Harbor used to be called “The Unhampton.” And I’m going to read Melville’s Moby Dick. Which is to say, I’m going to read all the words that surround his reference to Sag Harbor as “Sin City.”
4. Thank you, Mr. President
I’m going to climb the Montauk Point Lighthouse—on the inside, relax. I’ve done it once before. It was transcendaently awesome. George Washington had the lighthouse erected to save ships, but maybe he also knew that it would provide a cardio workout and a breathtaking panoramic view for generations to come.
Who doesn’t love the Big Duck in Flanders? No one! This is the very structure that coined “duck” as an architectural term. You can build structures in the shapes of hamburgers or derby hats—but they’re all called “ducks.” And if that isn’t exciting enough to lure you in—they sell cool patches inside that depict the Big Duck, which you can sew onto your jeans jacket. The last time I was there I bought my son a patch—can’t imagine why he didn’t take that jacket to college. Maybe I should mail it to him.
6. Beyond the beach
I’m not just going to go to the beach and picnic. I shall make my own local sea salt from ocean water. Why buy salt? The natives didn’t. Amagansett Sea Salt makes it look so sexy. After sea salt I’m going to start making my own beer and hard cider and vinegars. Hmm, I’ll have to do this late in the year—otherwise I might never leave the house.
7. South of the Highway
I’ll explore Wainscott—not the Wainscott we all know along Montauk Highway where the Seafood Shop and Breadzilla are, though that does beckon. I’m headed to the interior to discover Wainscott’s original Main Street. While there I will accost a passerby and ask him or her to tell me where he or she lives. I need to know if locals actually pronounce it “Wayne-skit.”
8. Down on the farm
Hold onto your straw hats, I’m going to visit every farmers market on the East End. It makes sense to shop at your most local market; it’s the right thing to do. I’m going to be bad, really bad, and hit every one at least once. Sure I’ll continue to shop at Sag Harbor’s every Saturday but also Greenport, Shelter Island, Springs and Westhampton Beach at some point. Montauk of a Thursday. East Hampton and Hayground on a special Friday and Southampton come a certain Sunday—it will not be my “day of rest.” I shall gather the best of the best seasonal produce, recipes and gossip ever.
9. Now Open
I’m going to take a studio tour—any studio tour—on the East End. Maybe a highly organized, daylong fundraiser of an event or maybe just one rum-soaked evening with a new artist friend. I crave original, visual stimulation. Is that a Talking Heads song lyric or just the curator inside my head? Maybe I’ll discover the next Eric Fischl. If I do, you can read all about it in Dan’s.
10. Light the lights!
I will see every production at Bay Street Theatre this summer. Confession: Last year I missed one. Conclusion: That’s pathetic! I love live theatre and I live right there! Solution: Don’t miss anything at Guild Hall either!
I meet a lot of famous people out here. Some of them I greatly admire, and I’d love to chat with them at length. This year I’m going to invite some of them to dinner. What have I got to lose? Gael Greene likes my cooking. So what if I don’t live in a mega McMansion—most people don’t. I can decant wine—or seltzer.
12. Everything old…
I’m going to visit a bunch of East End museums. I went to them all when East End history was new to me—except for the East End Seaport Museum in Greenport, so I’ll start there. I wonder if they have a cool patch for my son’s jean jacket.
13. Bringing up my rear
I shall run—okay, mostly walk—a 5K for charity. There are tons of these races out here, all for great causes. (I will not be participating in any icy plunges until the year that Global Warming does away with the “icy” aspect. Momma didn’t raise no fools.)
Last but never least, the #14 dosa at the Hampton Chutney Company in Amagansett. I will get one and face plant. Butternut squash, goat cheese and beets! It’s the best dosa no matter which of the chutneys you choose to accompany it. And it’s seasonal—you can’t get it any old time, because the squash has to be just right. 2014, the year of the squash…won’t you join me?