A Special Dwelling

Anne Shelley 92 Squiretown Road Hampton Bays, N.Y. 11946 631.728.1306 ashelley27@earthlink.net word count 752 A SPECIAL DWELLING Twenty years ago my husband and I searched for a home in the Hamptons. All we wanted was to combine the beach environment of Fire Island and the true country feeling of upstate New York. The salespeople who took us on the hunt heard our specifications, nodded, smiled and then took us to see something that was sadly short of our ideal. But one man seemed to grasp something about what we were saying. Hesitantly, he said. “There’s a house, it’s a little different, kind of isolated, a bit difficult to get to. Maybe you’d like to take a look. It’s north of Hampton Bays and the area is sparsely populated. “ Any lingering requirements were discarded the instant we saw our charming little cape. It was up a hill, at the end of a deeply rutted and sandy road. The setting was rustic, trees everywhere and not a single blade of grass. Perfect! It was so secluded and romantic that we had to own it. The house had red painted dormers, a nice fireplace, beamed ceilings and the most primitive kitchen I had ever encountered. No matter. Shelley 2 Heading out from New York City on Friday afternoons I was always excited and couldn’t wait to get there. We might find whippoorwills resting on our roof and I stayed up late to listen to the owls hooting in the woods. Deer roamed freely and were unafraid of us. They often stopped to lie down and nap close to our back door. Undaunted by the reality of not being able to drive up the hill on snowy days, we parked at the bottom of the hill and walked the remaining half mile to reach our house. One Sunday, a heavy snow was predicted. We were low on oil and I had been calling the company all day because in heavy snow it was impossible for large trucks to get to us. They didn’t deliver, but late in the afternoon we left anyway to make our way back to N.Y. The snow started to descend in large flakes as we entered the Long Island Expressway and it appeared that a blizzard was in the making. We envisioned frozen pipes and water damage. We had to turn back. At home we turned the temperature down and lit a fire. The snow continued through the next day and night. Two days later the sun came out and we trudged through heavy snow to reach our car. Not that there was anywhere to go. We were stranded. After several days the road became navigable for cars but not for trucks. We drove out, picked up a large container of oil, poured it in the tank, maintained the temperature at fifty degrees and kept the fire going. This continued for ten days. Because it was a private road there would be no snow removal from the county. We Shelley 3 called everyone we could think of who might help us but no one was willing to risk traveling through the banked snow and treacherous ice. Finally a man from one of the oil companies walked to us to see if there was anything he could do. After looking the place over he was frank. “Do you have anywhere else you can go?” Of course we had our New York apartment so we said “yes”. He said , “Then you should go there.” The only choice was to close the house for the rest of the winter. Spring came and I fell in love with the place all over again. It was a year of gypsy moths and they stripped the trees. Still, the leaves would grow back and we could endure naked trees for a season. The deer broke into our little garden and ate all the flowers. It was annoying but I reasoned that this is just what deer do. It was a surprise, however, when they feasted on the beautiful laurel bush. Eventually, it was the road that determined our decision to move. The ruts would get deeper and we would get older. Retirement was on the current horizon. We moved and we enjoy our new home. It is accessed by a well-maintained road and a welcoming driveway. People don’t get lost when they come to visit us. Still, we never regret the years we spent in the woods. It was a special experience. More and more we appreciate the beauty of eastern Long Island. Living in the Hamptons continues to be lovely. And, I have to admit, it’s gotten easier.