The Scuttlehole House
On September 19, 2010, when I was 49 years old, my husband died unexpectedly, bringing to a close our ten year marriage. We lived in a bright and airy house on Scuttlehole Road, at the head of Lumber Lane, that we bought as newlyweds, with vast views over the farm field and vineyards of the Channing Daughters winery. On a fine day, you could see all the way to the ocean. Every weekend morning, we’d wake up and marvel at how lucky we were to have each other and to live in such a beautiful place. From the tower above our master bedroom, we’d watch the sun rise over the vineyards in a reddish pallor. Most mornings, we’d sit together by the picture window in our living room , drinking in the endless view with our coffee, as we discussed our weekend plans in the early sun. We loved our land and all of its creatures. There were birds and bats, bunnies and pheasants, not to mention the deer that frequently roamed our property. We considered them all as we carefully designed what to plant in our yard. We studied a book on trees and shrubs. Shortly after 9/11, we proudly installed 110 trees around the perimeter of our property. The Bridgehampton soil was abundantly fertile. Each spring the pear trees we planted would sprout their white flowers, standing majestic in the spring air, growing ever larger. The crepe myrtles would bloom in summer, one pinkish red and one purple, stunningly lush in the August heat. We planted petunias and geraniums, zinnias and mums: all had a place with the passing seasons. Our yard was truly a bird sanctuary. My husband built birdhouses for the robins and bluejays and the purple martins that dive-bombed our pool in late afternoons. As the seasons changed, the squirrels entertained us, diligently attempting to raid our bird feeders. When giant houses grew on “our” farm field across the street, horses also arrived. We’d watch them gallop about under canvas blue skies, or roam peacefully on the manicured grass that the new owners tended as “ag reserve”. My husband was an artist who loved to fish. Some mornings, the alarm would buzz at 4:30 a.m., and he’d pronounce it was “fishing time”. Half asleep, I’d make him a pot of coffee while he readied his rods and reels for a trip to Montauk or North Haven or Cold Spring Pond. He’d carefully select the precise lures he planned to use, then leave promptly in the morning darkness in his old Jeep. I can still see him dressed to the nines in Cabelas and his camouflage cap, wearing his long-legged waders. We lived a quiet and simple life, and we were happy. When the chores of widowhood arrived unannounced, I couldn’t bear to be in Bridgehampton. I wound up my husband’s affairs, gave away his possessions, and sold our home. All I kept was his art work. I didn’t move very far. I returned to my little farmhouse in Water Mill, purchased before my marriage. I placed his art work in the basement, and struggled with my grief. For a while, I shut down. I wasn’t sure if I could ever live here again. I wandered to other places: Philadelphia, LA, Princeton, the Jersey Shore. I found great solace in my family and friends. But I missed the Hamptons and, with time, vowed to return. This summer, I’m back where I began in Water Mill, single and alone, but not quite lonely. As the phantom pain of grief recedes, I am still somewhat displaced, but I know that I am loved. When I take my morning swim, I scour the azure sky, and I contemplate my future. I’m not sure what will become of me, but I am finding my way. My husband used to say, “I will chase you around the universe”. I feel certain that he meant the Hamptons.