Maybe It’s Time To Go

Written By: Toinette Gay

MAYBE IT’S TIME TO GO by Toinette Gay At the time of my birth, my dear father bought a 12 acre parcel in Watermill. It consisted of an old 1800’s farmhouse with several out-buildings. He had been raised in New York, and his family owned a country house in Southampton near the ocean long before it was fashionable. My mother’s family had lived in Southampton since it was founded in 1640. They met and married here. Daddy wanted his children to grow up appreciating the wonders of nature, which is what we did. Twelve acres was a lot to explore for a kid. When I was 5, I was given a shetland pony for my birthday, probably the happiest day of my life. I would dress up like Davy Crockett, in my fringe pants and coonskin hat, and climb up onto my western saddle and ride “Bub” around the orchard until we were both exhausted. I spent a lot of days in the spring climbing the trees on the property checking on the progress of eggs in the birds’ nests. There was a field of tall grasses which changed color with the seasons, and when it was covered with snow it was especially beautiful. One side of the property was a forest of blue and white pines that my parents planted from seedlings. The spring was a busy time, plowing the garden to get it ready to plant. My father taught us how to plant the tiny vegetable seeds, and how to gently handle the tender little seedlings. My brothers and I would pluck the weeds as they began to crowd the emerging plants on Saturday mornings. Summer evenings we would pick peppers, carrots, radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, zukes, melons, and corn right from the garden before dinner. We had peach trees, apple trees, and pear trees, too, and in the fall we would freeze whatever we could to eat all winter long. One Easter morning I woke up in the room I shared with my sister to find Easter baskets at the foot of our beds with real live baby lambs in each one. Hers was black and mine was white. We named them Tinker and Belle. In summer we would go to the beach everyday. Some weekends we would bring our tents down to my uncle’s property at Fowler’s Beach and set up camp. There would be maybe a dozen adults and as many kids. At night we’d grill steaks and corn on the fire, and later tell ghost stories around the glowing embers before we went to sleep. It was heavenly lying on our blankets and scanning the night sky for shooting stars to make wishes on. There was no TV, no cell phones, no other people on the beach. At the first hint of daybreak, we’d fly out of the tent ,run to the ocean and dive in for a morning swim before cooking scrambled eggs and bacon over the re-stoked fire. We’d pick up after ourselves before we left, making sure not to leave even a toasted marshmellow littering the beach. These days, out here in the Fabulous Hamptons, there doesn’t seem to be much respect for the land, or our beautiful, pristine beaches, or for each other for that matter. Impatience rules the day. Horns honking, people driving badly, passing on the right, stopping abruptly on the road to answer their phones, not showing any courtesy to others. A turn signal? What’s that? The whole reason people came here in the first place was because of the natural beauty and the abundance of farm fields. People used to buy existing homes without tearing them down to put up something that barely fits on the lot. I remember not long ago when Easthampton was a lovely quaint little town. Now, it’s an over-priced shopping mall. Southampton village seems to have lost a lot of its charm, and Bridgehampton is still pretty sleepy. Sag Harbor has become the town-of-the-moment with people parading up and down Main St., Long Wharf, and side streets at all hours of the day and night. It makes me laugh when I see groups of 20-something girls decked out in 4″ platforms nearly keeling over on the uneven roads and sidewalks, teetering like drunken Barbie’s. Most of the pastoral views I used to love so much in Sagaponack have disappeared. Now the fields are cluttered with houses too big to live in. There was a time when there was just a handful of us sitting on Gibson Beach. Now it’s overrun with a lot of people with absolutely no beach etiquette. People jabbering on cell phones at the ocean is really annoying. One afternoon there, a girl nearby me was pacing around in circles, talking so loudly on her phone to her gynecologist that I could hear every word. I learned way more about her than I needed to know. Really?? Is nothing private? Not even your privates? We like to go to the beach to relax. Call me crazy. I like to sit away from the crowds and have my own space and just listen to the waves break. I have seen so many changes out here which sadden me. Driving down Gibson Lane and no longer being able to see my childhood friend’s family cottage sitting on the dune,( which has been there for decades,) because now it is squeezed on 3 sides into the shadows of the looming monstrosities that have totally blocked the views of the dunes altogether. Scuttle Hole Road has long been my favorite road to drive on but now the panoramic views are disappearing. For Sale signs offering entire enormous fields to build on make me want to cry. I’ve said for years that when those fields are gone, I’m outta here. Maybe I should start packing… I wish sometimes that I could think the way a friend of my mother’s thinks about the summer tourists . He said to me recently, ” Isn’t it great that we can share all this beauty we’re blessed with?”