Bugging Out in the Hamptons
Something has been bugging me in the Hamptons. It has nothing to do with the long waits for tables at newly opened hideaways, or the lack of parking in town, not even the Bridgehampton backups cause me to cringe. My Hampton horror arrived uninvited, stowed away in raccoon fur, and hid out in a centuries old basement. The minuscule nibblers and their numerous progeny covertly moved themselves in. They sleep on the living room carpet, lie all day on the couch, rousing only at the vibrations of footfalls that signal a meal has arrived.
The lawn out back is a wondrous piece of green, irresistible to the deer that sweetly wander through to dine on young apples freshly fallen from a neighbor’s tree. That cool grass will never feel my foot dance lightly through its welcoming blades. The macramé hammock swaying between the pines might as well be on the moon. I remain a deck bound prisoner, watching nature from afar. My hands sporadically slide down my legs to my ankles. I am ever vigilant, I spend afternoons feeling an imaginary crawling on my Deet sprayed skin.
My retreat and subsequent withdrawal from the world occurs on the sandy shore of Havens Beach. Sag Harbor’s wake driven swells chuckle through rocks and shells. Six inch rollers fall gently on the strand. Paddle boards drift by, speed boats pull squealing tubers. A sailing school, with sails smartly taut, drifts backs and forth across my field of view. Boats with rods and reels, yachts with Fiats and hot tubs on the stern parade past. I am enamored with the tranquility. As my head slowly falls and I give in to the delight of a beach side nap, a distinctive buzz and bite causes my hand to slap my shin. I am stunned by the audacity of this creature. It avoids my frantic hand, as self inflicted welts appear on my legs. It becomes a freakish dance of landings and swattings. I am determined to be victorious. It finally ends with a small carcass at my feet and its brethren waiting nearby to second him.
Hampton’s days are best capped with a stroll to view the sunset. Whether from dock, jetty or beach the sky is vast and rose colored. An osprey pair soars by at dusk, deft talons turn their catch to slide smoothly through the air. The gulls hunker down for the night and music carries across the water. The air smells clean and holds just the right amount of chill. I bravely walk the water’s edge bare shouldered, my sweatshirt neatly tied around my waist. I notice movement on the sand, furtive dartings of black specks. I blink my eyes, once, twice, maybe an eyelash or an errant hair is the culprit, but the specks lift off and swarm around my face. I reach for my sweatshirt while I simultaneously smack at the painful nips in my scalp. No-seeums, gnats, miniature black flies, the bane of sunset watchers, worse at low tide, arrive to shorten a Hampton’s highlight once again.
An abandoned walk, leads to a glass of local Chardonnay on the deck just as the Mosquitos arrive with sundown. Inside, the unwanted guests have dwindled down to a few hardy survivors. The raccoon in the basement denied entry, flea bombs set-off. At last, all seems quiet on the Hampton’s front. I ponder the egalitarian ways of the humble flea, the deer tick, the dog tick, the green fly, the gnat and mosquito. Tell-tale reddened spots appear on revelers in waterfront restaurants, welts adorn the legs of ladies loaded down with shopping bags, rise on the arms of the waiters, on the necks of the Plein air artists, on the hands of the gentle man that prunes the hedges.
I read the newspaper and discover that a new mosquito born virus is arriving from the Caribbean, Chikungunya virus! Don’t many of those luxurious yachts moored out in Sag Harbor arrive from those latitudes? I continue reading and discover there is a new tick virus worse than the ones we already have to deal with, Eastern Equine Encephalitis or Triple E Virus. Further on in the paper I discover there is an Anaconda loose in a Lake in Northern New Jersey! I light the citronella torches that line the deck, scratch my arms, sigh heavily as I pour a second glass of chilled white and let the falling sun warm my skin at the end of another perfect Hampton’s day.