Fred W. Nagel
The house was built by a Finn, a contractor. He and his wife raised four
children there and were retiring to the Carolinas. It was a handsome Saltbox,
a replica of an eighteenth century design, with dark brown, clapboard siding.
It inhabited, along with a spacious barn and potting shed, an acre of land
almost half of which was populated by large indigenous oaks. To the east,
in winter, from the upstairs bedrooms, one could view the Accabonac Harbor
glimmering in the morning light.
A few hundred yards distant, at the entrance to Gerard Point, is a small
triangle of land with a stone monument proclaiming it to be the site of Molly
Pharoah’s wigwam and the birthplace, in 1819, of Stephen Pharaoh, A.K.A.
Stephen Talkhouse the last chief of the Montaukett Indians who populated the
area in pre-colonial days. Farther along, at the end of Springs Fireplace
Road, overlooking Gardiner’s Bay, is “the fireplace”, the site, dating to the
1700’s, of fires signaling to the residents of Gardiner’s Island the arrival of
visitors or supplies.
Accabonac Harbor and its environs is a place of singular beauty. From
Accabonac Fred W. Nagel
– 2 –
certain vantage points, the harbor and Gardiner’s Bay which feeds it, have
changed but little through the years. I surmise, that with the exception of
relatively few houses visible along its shores, we see it today much as did
Molly Pharoah and generations of her ancestors.
Islands of wetland seem to float in the harbor’s shallow waters. The
currents in its channel are unhurried. In the Spring, Osprey arrive to
reclaim their platform nests surrounding the harbor and raise their young.
Piping Plover proliferate in protected sandy knolls at the tip of Gerard Point,
where harbor meets the bay. Wrapped in morning light and setting sun alike,
the harbor is serene. It is in The Hamptons, but not of The Hamptons, a place
of lingering authenticity. It was here that we would make our home, have our
retirement and share the final fifteen years of Nancy’s life.
* * *
It was time. Six months had passed. On a mild and sunny day in early
September, I took the black box containing Nancy’s ashes from its place in
the living room bookcase and took it to Louse Point. We had long ago
decided on Louse Point as our final resting place. It is a place of spectac-
Accabonac Fred W. Nagel
ular beauty on the East End of Long Island. I pushed the kayak into the
water and paddled, cross channel, to Tick Island and a narrow spit of sand at
its northern end. Looking east, between the parentheses of Gerard and Louse
Points, the waters of Accabonac Harbor spill into the vast expanse of
Gardiner’s and Napeague Bays under uninhibited skies. The view suggests
the passage of endless time, a glimpse of eternity.
In the shadow of an Osprey nest, I dropped our wedding bands and
Nancy’s ashes. The larger particles sank quickly beneath the surface, some
finer ones stayed afloat and drifted, with the current, toward home. I
watched her go, saying my goodbye, and I returned to shore.
The harborside beach at Louse Point directly faces Tick Island. It was
a favorite place for us. We lounged there often and often brought our
cocktails to celebrate the waning hours of the day. It was warm. I swam.
I lay back in my beach chair. The afternoon sun baked my aging body. I
closed my eyes.
* * *
Row, Row, Row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
ACCABONAC Fred W. Nagel
– 4 –
The childhood fugue laps at consciousness like the little, dappled waves
of Jamaica Bay upon the shore. Everybody sings. The venerable, dark green