Crescent Moon Bay

Written By: Dawn Mascioli

Crescent Moon Bay Today as the snow lightly cascades down unhampered by any wind, it melts along the pavement of my driveway leaving just a dusting on the lawn and tree branches. I am relieved that the winter seems to be relinquishing its’ reign to the warmer days of Spring. This brings promise of the return of new colors to the landscape that now has colors muted with gray. March days are stretched longer in the afternoons with the help of daylight savings time. And simply the sun seems to shine brighter and the sky fawns a different blue. It is these days that begin to rekindle my thoughts of Crescent Moon Bay.

My daughters and I moved farther East on Long Island several years ago to Manorville. This past year since the Pine Barrens fires, more people seem to relate that we are out on Eastern Long Island. Although to some it seems quite a stretch, I do have to explain that we are not even at the final exit of the Long Island Expressway. In addition, that in order for me to reach Crescent Moon Bay it is another thirty minute drive. I do find that it helps to entice visitors west of me, with no frame of reference that there are numerous farms stands, restaurants, vineyards and even a vodka distillery to explore. After all I’m just not too sure that Crescent Moon Bay is enough for everyone.

When visitors do come, I smile inwardly when they note that it doesn’t seem like they are on Long Island. This usually happens in route to Crescent Moon Bay where large tracts of farm land have overpowered the imminent need for another mall or home development. The softness of the landscape on either side of the road brings a sense of serenity that isn’t diminished even when playing the radio during the drive. There are very few hills that detract from the flatness of the fields of farmland. The deviations come with changing color of plowed soil and growth of the planted seed. I have become familiar with this drive, yet each new season alters my perception of this familiarity.

This drive runs along the corridor to the North Fork End of the long island. Beyond the center anchor of the properties of land lie the Northern and Southern edges of this tract where the oceans’ salt water greet the land. Unlike the uniform lines of tilled land, the water manages to lap its’ way making paths through rock and dirt leaving its’ octopus like print. The ebb and flow of the water courses in through previously etched areas and pools to create bays where the land still holds strong on three sides. These bodies of water act as liquid form of a painter’s canvas. This canvas captures the movement of time as it mirrored by the sun and moon against fluidity. And when one becomes unsteady on their feet with the wind distorting the image, I recommend looking to the sides and behind at the stillness of land.

On the East End of the North Fork within the inner drier sanctuary of land is where Crescent Moon Bay is located. The street to it takes a left hook when heading Eastward off of Sound Avenue. At times this is welcome if following a train of cars behind the dust of a farmer’s tractor. As the road bends back to the East, rows of cultivated vineyards dominate the view. The parade of rows does not sound of a marching band, but of winds voicing their loud or quiet hello, sometimes joined by a choir of flocking birds. At a distance you can see through an opening a cluster of wood structures. A few are painted but have faded to the color of pink sand and one sports a hunter green coat. As you drive closer two more shapes come into to focus and are set on a higher elevation of land. Long and wide planks of wood running from roof to ground adorn a two story barn and an even larger house set to the right of it. Rain, sun and wind have wiped away their smell of wood. Then oaks, pines and maple trees obstruct the view for a moment until you reach the driveway, at last, to Crescent Moon Bay.

The driveway runs directly to the barn once that seemed far away. Five foot pasture fencing is spaced down the drive. It is a good thing since at another place four foot fencing didn’t keep Crescent Moon Bay from where she wished to be. She is the Bay that has escaped being called simply “Lake” or “Pond”. Her crescent moon mark defies the distinction between day and night because it remains there all the time. She catches the high winds at times, and kicks out with no need to run. She tries to very hard to hide her existence by rolling in the mud and dirt. Within the field she draws from the land, its’ stalks of grass, dandelions and clover. She presses against the weathered fencing, reaching out to cajole with friends. A small, Blue Roan pony named Bunny, called on show days, “Hop To IT”, is her favorite. The times she is confined to her space and Bunny is led to pasture, she lets out a shrill call to voice her discontent. And when Bunny is saddled and out to practice her jumps in the ring she seems calmer, I believe it is that she can see her from her stall window.

Along with Bunny the barns now house a wider circle of other ponies and horses. Each not alone but belonging to another. They have been chosen by their owners. It’s a conundrum to specify one reason exactly why. They are all sorts of colors, chestnut, white and dappled gray. Other roans, sorrel, paint and palomino are in the mix. Their varied heights are measured in hands from hoof to the withers. Levels of their training, personality and age also play a part. In the jumble, comes order when their owners are mounted and in the riding ring. It is time for structure, while family and friends gather near the rail.

Walk, trot, change diagonal, shoulders back, soften hands are among some of the instructors commands. These commands that are easily heard take many lessons and persistence to master. Change direction and canter the outside line are commonly heard as riders glide past. As they pass you see riders have tight lips and their eyes focus sharper as the trainer corrects. At times a parent’s brow is furrowed with a hand held over their eyes as a child begins to sail over a jump. Smiles abound when the horse or pony and rider connect. These smiles weave in and out among chatter and laughter through much of the day.

The last mounts are led away as shadows lengthen with the glow of the setting sun. Voices become fainter and stop abruptly as car doors begin to slam shut. The rustle of hay being pulled and eaten by the horses in their stalls is complimented by the sound of my boots scuffing the cement aisle. Leather saddles and bridles have been hung neatly in the proper places while heavy tack trunks may hide other riding or grooming accessories that might not be so neat, if one were to peek. It is time now to break a carrot and bid good bye to Crescent Moon Bay. The clunk of the latch and slide of the large stall door prompts her to show her face. In a few quick chomps the carrot pieces are gone leaving a dampness on my glove. I reach out trying touch the crescent moon that rests above her glassy brown eyes. And in blink, she returns to her hay and has decided I must come another day only to get closer to the crescent moon on this Bay.