Music from Ocean to Bay to Basement

My last night in Quogue was music (an only-ok but delightful and enthusiastic band) at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton.  For all y’all who didn’t grow up on Dune Road, let me explain.  Dune Road is one of the barrier beaches south of Long Island:

Dune Road, with #16 in Quogue marked

Cupsogue Beach is all the way to the west of Dune Road (the East end is Shinnecock, home to fishing boats and lobster restaurants).  Stand on an elevated place on Dune Road and you can enjoy bay and ocean vistas just by turning about.

The bay at Cupsogue and below, the beach


The boardwalk affords those views, as well as views of a pretty heterogeneous crowd:

the boardwalk (beach behind me)

The sky was gorgeous:

Cupsogue Beach

The crowd enthusiastic:

The band

And the lifeguard stoic:

Serious lifeguard

The sign below bears reading–this is very much not the world I grew up in, but it affords an interesting take on beach life today. Photograph your kid the same day; be prepared to show the lifeguard, etc:

Family Action Plan

There was another sign about the dangers of the sun and an exhortation to sun screen.  All good advice, albeit fairly surprising to someone who grew up in flowing beach gowns because there was no sunscreen (and I was allergic as a teenager) and where no one (I think) was worried about losing their kids on the beach.

Calliope went home with Helen and I went to visit college friends in Peconic.  (Why do I feel scruples about revealing friends when have none about publicizing my family?) We had a blast: lunch on Shelter Island, where the world got so small as to be the stuff of fiction. What are the chances that the hostess is the niece of a guy I went to grammar school with and that my host–also a friend from grammar school as well as college–is good friends with my first cousin?  Small. But true.

We followed lunch with a visit to the not to be missed Coffee Pot Cellars Winery where the lovely, lively, passionate Laura (assisted by her pug, Beasley) talked to us about wine and bees (she is a beekeeper).

Laura Klahre, beekeeper, wine lover, and delightful

Her husband, Adam, was there only in the presence of his wines, which are worth the drive.

The after-dinner music was much better than the music at the beach.  My friends have been playing together in various combinations since college (and still play at our reunions).  Just a perfect day in a perfect setting. My definition of house perfect: an old house full of character, complete with a porch and a view:

Beach behind me
The only thing better than a porch is a porch with a view
The view

Finally, from Village of Quogue, to Village of Peconic, to THE Village, an urban small town if there ever was one.  I made up for a month of ramen noodles in a feast of bars and restaurants from Saturday night: Black Derby, Sevilla, back to Black Derby; through Sunday evening: enormous chocolate croissant at Aux Merveilleux De Fred (where I might take up residence if I lived in NY), with visits to Sevilla and Blenheim, followed by dinner at Agave) including a trip to the ridiculously wonderful Murphy’s Cheese Shop:

The selection was mesmerizing (and so delectable):

Murphy’s Cheese…soo good

Food and books! My bedside table is newly refreshed with all the books I bought at Three Lives and Company Bookstore and BookBook, home of a great collection of New York Review Books Classics (the link takes you to the full list at NYRB).

Three Lives and Company. Great title for a book.

Bookstores on a Sunday afternoon are not overflowing with people, but Washington Square Park is–packed with people and entertainment. As we walked in one band was just packing up, but a bit further on Alingon Mitra was drawing a big crowd as one of the performers at a Comedy Stand Up in the park–a very funny young man (he is way at  front in the red shirt–not a great photo):

Alingon Mitra in Washington Square Park

And beyond the comedy crowds a music student (I presume?) rolled a piano into the park:

Piano in Washington Square Park

A few seconds of WSP Sunday music for your pleasure:

Piano in Washington Square Park

After a drink at Black Derby and dinner (duck enchiladas!) at Agave, we went to the Village Vanguard to hear Tom Harrell.  Harrell’s music is beyond amazing–even more so because he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. (A really interesting article in Forbes about Harrell and his struggles and triumphs with the disease is here.) He stands pretty rigidly onstage with his head down at what looks like an uncomfortable angle, separating himself from everyone. But then he starts to play and completely loses himself in the music. It was transporting.

And that, my friends, was all Thursday evening to Sunday evening.  And an object lesson in why I should write daily for more clarity…but I was a bit preoccupied.

What happened to the blog?????

That’s an excellent question, one that I have been asking myself daily. I’ve been in  New York now for the better part of a week and…well…I don’t know. Perhaps the environment is too familial and too familiar to report with the same distanced amusement. The very familiarity draws a curtain between viewer (me) and the deserved wow factor of my surroundings.

So. (With acknowledgement to my sister who hates that I frequently use the word ‘so’, but the blog comes with all my syntactical quirks.) I’d like to say the three sisters enjoyed a sunny and leisurely jaunt from Niagara Falls to New York.  It poured. As in all our cell phones giving emergency notification of flood warnings and, in one area, the police blocking off a lane that was impassable. Google maps, steering us from the heaviest traffic, chose Bear Mountain as the best route. Probably. On any other day. But Annie got to try out driving my car for the first time up and down s-curves in the driving rain.  Exhausting.  But we made it.  And heaven sent us one more rainbow when we safely made it to Great Neck (home of yet another sister, Mary Alice) to retrieve Annie’s car (and dog):

Consolation Prize Rainbow: Great Neck

We are now all in Quogue, the beautiful little town where we spent all of our summers without least clue   that we were  supremely fortunate to wake up every morning to an enormous expanse of white sand and ever-changing ocean.  Dune Road, Quogue, is a very different place now from my childhood, with oceanfront homes starting at around 11 million.  A massive palace now stands on the lot on which stood the cute summer house of a reverend and his wife (sorry, the names are long gone)–a one-storey cedar beach house that couldn’t have been more than about 1200 sf. “Our” side yard (main features: beach plums and lots of ticks in the high beach grass) supports another one. “Our” house (in the day: big enough to house all those kids) now looks like the servants quarters to the house next door. An oceanfront  Mons Palatinus.  With all the anxious care to match.

Annie’s house is in the village and wonderful, with a pool and a beautiful back yard.

The favorite dog grazing patch
Green Paradise
My favorite spot
The goldfish pond

The pool is dog-friendly, a blessing since this year the beach is not.  Sand-pipers/plovers/terns/pick your name have extended their nesting ground and early  morning beach plays are off limits.

Coconut Alma Joy rides a frog

Surfer dudes:

Daisie, Coconut, Callie: Surf buddies

How did they do that? Here’s how

And post-surf races:

Race to the steps!

Suzie, Helen’s 11.5 year old golden, is having a different beach holiday. Recently diagnosed with cancer, she doesn’t go outside much, although she does greatly enjoy grazing on the plants in Annie’s back yard:

Suzie happiness

Even Suzie gets energized by the promise of Amy’s salmon treats (which must be delicious but smell horrible):

Salmon Treats line up

Eager puppies, but very polite as they wait their turn:

Polite Puppies

(The towels runners: gorgeous floors, an antique rug, and a houseful of almost but not quite dry dogs).

What have we done? Fourth of July fireworks party:

Triple Blast
Beautiful Blue Blur
Country Club Fireworks

And food.  Hmmm…after a month of almonds and ramen noodles, it’s pretty amazing how much I can pack away.

And sleep. Lots of it. I don’t have to get on the road. I don’t have to get anywhere. Roll over for just another five minutes…

And books.  The Temporary Bride, Jennifer Klinec (readable; lots of questions about this one); Defending Jacob, William Landay (less well-written, beach read, disturbing and annoying); A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr.  This one gets more than a parenthesis. A slight story that just took my breath away. Beautifully written. Restrained. Moving. It wasn’t that I didn’t want it to end, but when it did, I felt like I left part of me in the book.

And hanging out. I don’t do this so well.  This morning I woke up with work-panic for the first time since leaving Davidson. Some part of me knows I’m soon headed home.

Finally, I have this sense that I should be waxing philosophical about the journey.  Or at least economical: I spent $X on hotels, gas, etc. Maybe at some point I will (not, I promise, about the journey–I’ve spent my career listening to too many speeches to undergraduates). Or maybe not.