Dan Rattiner's Stories

Long Fourth: The Five-Day July 4 Holiday & What We Did in the Hamptons

Piping plovers, sharks, traffic and other obstacles on Independence Day weekend.

Having the Fourth of July fall on a Thursday was just the best. We could celebrate Wednesday, Thursday (the Fourth), then Friday, Saturday, Sunday and even Monday if we wanted to stretch it a little.

Here in the Hamptons, we had guests, and so I created a busy schedule. They arrived Wednesday night, and so on Thursday morning we drove to Southampton’s Picnic Beach in our four-wheel drive Lexus CS-460. We would have gone out onto the sand, except the beach was closed because of a new piping plover nest.

The Hamptons is proud to protect our little piping plover birds. You can’t drive a car near to a piping plover nest on the beach, you can’t even walk near one without getting in trouble with the law. The noise scares the plovers. We’ve been protecting the plovers now for 15 years. Back then, there was just one nest in all the Hamptons, I think. It was real bad for the piping plovers. Now they are staging a revival.

Anyway, on Friday we drove to the beach at Mecox for a picnic, but that was closed because of piping plovers. We went back to the county park next to the official Picnic Beach again, but wouldn’t you know, the county park was closed because of piping plovers just like the Picnic Beach next door. So we went home.

Saturday morning we tried Noyac Bay, but that was closed off to piping plovers. And we had plans to go Saturday night to the fireworks at Devon in East Hampton, but we were told there would be piping plovers nests blocking access this year, so that wouldn’t work either.

Piping plover nesting on eggs
Nesting piping plover, Photo: Paul Tessier/123RF

We did hear that Main Beach in East Hampton was still open, so we went there, but there was no swimming at that beach because there were sharks swimming just offshore.

That’s another good thing we’ve done. Numerous types of sharks were declared to be in danger three years ago, with rules and penalties similar to those for piping plovers, and they have worked out really well. Now sharks are everywhere, and they show up more than they did before. Going swimming is a small thing to give up in order to give sharks a chance to survive.

Anyway, Saturday after dinner we decided to go out to some other event, but it was then, you might recall, that cellphone service went flooey everywhere in the Hamptons because the local bandwidth got overloaded with visitors calling home saying, “we’ve arrived in the Hamptons” or some other such variation, so we couldn’t get any information about what was going on. Furthermore, our GPS was all knocked out because of the bandwidth debacle, so we couldn’t get directions to anywhere. As a result, we decided, being good citizens, to just stay home for the rest of the weekend and, by not using gasoline, save the planet.

The highlight of the Fourth of July weekend for us was a TV show about all the new creatures now coming onto the endangered list that we surely would care about helping just as soon as we can get told what we can and cannot do. Another highlight was the great parade in Southampton, the longest of the year, to celebrate the Fourth. We tried to go, but there had been an accident in front of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill and the road was so backed up it was all over before we could get there.

We watched the American women show the Netherlands a thing or two about winning the World Cup. The Dutch were no match for the Americans, and though it was still 0 to 0 at the half, the Netherlands started the second half by playing dirty, it seemed to us, giving one player a black eye, another a cut in her forehead and still another a hard kick in the back of the shoulder, figuring, it seemed to us, that the only way they could win was by injuring our best players to force America to continue with substitutes. But the referees put a stop to this plan. They awarded the Americans a free kick for another indiscretion, and when Megan Rapinoe, the woman with the purple hair, made the kick, getting us ahead 1 to 0, the Dutch player who’d caused the indiscretion started to cry. Then we went back to dominating the Netherlands and won, pulling away 2 to 0.

Another highlight of the weekend was Trump’s speech about how wonderful he is and how our American soldiers in the Revolution seized all the enemy airports. Also the Sherman Tank display was nice. And then there was a thundering flyover by American fighter jets trailing white smoke. But no football game followed.

Finally, it all ended on Monday and reluctantly we had to say goodbye to our guests who had joined us for all the festivities over the weekend and had to drive back to the City to get to work. They seemed anxious to get home for some reason.

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