I have no time for eastern Long Island
Really. I don’t.
Why? Well, to me, the East End is in a time warp. It has no time. Therefore, I have no time for it. Dare I say it is…timeless? As far as I’m concerned, as I reminisce, wax, and ponder nostalgically, it might as well be, oh, 1965? And it’s a glorious time, too! Let me explain, dear reader.
I am sitting in the backseat of my parents’ Chevy. It is a Tuesday morning and we are “travelling” out to Eastern Long Island. I protest as I see my friends playing stickball, but no matter. We’re off for some adventure out East! I can see my parents in the front seat, my father driving, my mother in the passenger seat. I can hear the AM radio, with Julius La Rosa bantering about something important. Or not. And my parents are laughing. I love hearing them laugh! Bustling Route 25 transforms into a quaint, rural road and we end up in…Flanders.
Flanders is windy and the tide is low. It always seems to be windy in Flanders and it always will be, in my mind. It’s a cool, cloudy day at the beach and I am standing in the shallow cove, holding my mother’s hand. I can actually feel the water as I stand there with my mother, trying to get the nerve to take a dip. “A coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man dies just one,” says my mother encouragingly. I can hear her saying that now, a smile on her face. I brave the water and it is wet and cool and wonderful. She is laughing as she joins me. I can hear her and it is music to my ears. As I stand up, the inevitable Flanders wind brings a chill. My mother gathers my orange and white, thinly striped cardigan. I can see it vividly. I can feel the warmth, both of her embrace and the cardigan. We return to the warm car where my father holds court with a cooler of sandwiches. Oh, how delicious a simple turkey on rye can be!
But onward we go in this timeless pursuit…to the Treat Potato Factory.
My father takes us on a dusty road with potato fields on either side. He stops by the Treat Potato Factory, which still exists because, well, there IS no time. This really is a “treat” as it is an impromptu stop en route to…Peconic Bay, East Moriches, Amagansett, Montauk…I never know where! We step inside a modest lobby and I’m standing there with my father. He’s holding my hand as he places the order and quips a funny joke. He is so witty and always makes me laugh! Soon I am holding a large tin of just-made, warm, Treat Potato Chips. I am actually there and I can taste them now as we drive away. Mm, warm, salty, Treat Potato Chips…how crunchy, how delicious. “How about a soda, Katho?” I can hear my father asking. Oh, what a treat fresh potato chips and a soda can be!
Now, my dear reader, you might be thinking, “Ah, another travelogue out to Eastern Long Island. How pedestrian! Soon there will be mention of the Big Duck. How jejune!” No, NO, my friend! To me, the East End is a portal through time! I am actually in Flanders, I can feel the water…I can taste those scrumptious chips…I can hear my parents’ laughter! And, by the way, I can SEE the Big Duck! It’s in Riverhead on the side of the road, peering out from its nest of tall trees. I SO love seeing that duck. And, please, the words pedestrian and Big Duck should never reside in the same sentence! But I digress…
Where to next…? I leave the potato fields for…peach orchards.
We zoom to one of the many farms out east that grow peaches. They are ALL wonderful, don’t you agree? I can see my father parking the car by a sign saying, “Pick your own fruit.” I’m there and the sun is warm and although it seems like work, it is actually fun. We are all filling up baskets and my mother is laughing, saying how great a find this was. I can hear her saying she will make peach jam, peach turnovers, peach pie. And she does. I am actually there now. I can taste this warm peach that I had just plucked from that bountiful tree. And, oh, it is Ambrosial! My father says we should leave before the sun goes down. But that’s o.k. I am in the backseat with my bushel of peaches. I can smell the peaches now. Really. I can.
And, lest you deem this melancholia, my dear reader, perish the thought!! No, no. This is pure happiness, encapsulated in time. Any tears that may be had are borne of sheer happy thoughts!
My father brings me a Breyer’s ice cream pop from a charming general store in Quogue. It is a white cottage with a long porch, recessed from the two-lane road. I can actually see the store with a small Breyer’s green leaf logo hanging on a sign near the door. One should never bite the bottom of an ice cream pop, as it surely will melt. I am biting into the bottom of the pop and it surely is melting! Such folly, such fun! I will always do this. Why, is it not some unwritten law to do so? It has a crunchy chocolate coating and inside, creamy vanilla ice cream. How something so simple can simultaneously be so magnificent! Well, it just…is.
I can see that sailboat, serenely floating on Tiana Bay. I really can see it now! It is blue-and-white. Oh and it is beautiful!
I am at Mattituck and can hear the surf on a warm summer day as I enjoy what is left of that orange Popsicle…
So, East End, no, I have no time for you. Because, to me, there is no time. I choose to be caught in this glorious time warp. I have my parents, warm chips, cold soda, beaches, and peaches. And lots of laughs! The memories are priceless. They’re all there on Eastern Long Island and I can visit any time I want. And I do.