by George Cork Maul
It’s winter. It’s cold. Nobody is thinking about taking their boat out for a leisurely circle around the bay. There are some fishermen putting their working boats in the water to make a few extra bucks in these lean months. But they are brave souls and they are few.
If I take a walk around town, I run into neighbors who wish they were going out in their kayaks instead of getting their daily aerobic exercise walking the dog. And as I walk around town, I see the many shrink-wrapped boats waiting patiently for the long winter to be over so that they can again be worth their salt, instead of being just something that needs space to be stored and requires money for monthly dock rental.
As I walk along the shore, when the wind is low, I silently dream about being out on the water, staring in at the shore. That’s the point of view that transportation on the water offers. Such a view is so much better than driving around on the roads, viewing the suburban elements and commercial businesses. From the road you see the garbage pails, debris and lawn furniture, the store parking lots and signs all trying to hit their advertising markets. Stop here! Shop here! Spend your money HERE!
The view from out on The Peconic Bathtub offers such a profoundly different perspective. Each house in the distance displays a different familial vision of what it’s like to leave the rat race behind.To kick back and hide from the world. The empty beach chairs speak volumes about summer occupants, scantily clad, contemplating the meaning of the work that they do the other 48 weeks a year, getting back in touch with their bodies and taking in all that vitamin D. There is a delicious silence that the bay offers to the solitary beachgoer.
Who is lucky enough to know where the best unoccupied road end or waterfront plot is? It’s all about being in the know. I’m struck by how many people who live in my hamlet don’t ever go to the public beach we have at our center. We leave that for the tourists and outsiders. We find the unknown private spot that only the few insiders know.
As you look across the bay, you can see the other fork mirroring back at you. Its the same view that was seen when people came here from the old world in 1640. Has it really changed all that much?
It’s true that there are very few waterfront lots that aren’t claimed by the rich, famous, or by original owners, but when you look in from the water it is still so beautiful compared with the “Levittown view” that you get looking out of your car at the street you ride down. Part of it is about the distance, being able to see a long way across the water. It’s a wilderness view that reminds you how little you are in comparison to nature.
When I paddle my kayak around Robins Island in the warm months, I am always struck by the way the bay gives me the ability to put myself in perspective. We are not as big or as important as we think we are. I get great joy out of coming around the island and seeing my house in the distance as a landmark and a navigation tool. It’s a beacon to guide myself home by. That’s something that doesn’t exist on the LIE.
I encourage everybody who lives on the East End to remember that we surround the Peconic Bay. The bay unites us. The issues in Shinnecock Hills are the same as the issues in Jamesport. The tide in Sag Harbor is the same water that rises and falls in Southold, and in Riverhead, Orient and Noyac.
The issues about tourism and traffic and land use and viewscape and water quality and nitrogen and the future and the environment are the same for us all… They are all in various stages of evolution and we should all pay attention to the happenings in the other five towns around us. There is much to learn about our future here. I hope the pictures on this page serve to remind us all that we are together in this and we share the same view. The view from the bay looking in.