September 29, 2011

Sayville: Civil War & Seafood

Last Sunday brought me out to the Islip Grange in Sayville (a small restored village of 19th-Century buildings) for the reenactment of a turbulent era in American history. As I stepped on to the this tract of green grass, I was taken back in time to the 1860's. It was Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was president. A brass band performed a spirited version of "I Wish I Was in Dixie" in the Dutch Reformed Church. Ladies walked through town clad in period dresses and bonnets. The local blacksmith stoked his furnace and hammered out horseshoes by the dozen at his anvil. On the outskirts of town, the Union Army camp was abuzz in preparation for an upcoming skirmish. A gasp was heard throughout the village as a procession of Confederacy soldiers marched in from the south to the sound of beating drums, rifles at their shoulders propped and ready for action. On a distant hill, the northern army went out to meet their foe in a struggle for freedom. Soon, the afternoon air was pervaded by the cry of "Ready, aim, fire!" In a series of thunderous reports and a cloud of white smoke, an epic battle ensued between the Blue and the Gray that would last for over 45 minutes. This was an intense thing to experience...

After the battle had concluded and the Union soldiers had clinched the day, I left the Grange and drove a few miles down the highway to the Sayville Maritime Museum for their 20th Annual Seafood Festival. The museum grounds are made up of fourteen acres of land with several historic structures, which include a Small Craft Shed, a Bayman's Cottage, and an Oyster House. For this event, the grassy field was taken over by craft vendors, food stalls, performance stages, and thousands of visitors. I bought a Mango/Orange Smoothie and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sights. These two Sayville festivals were a great way to pass a mild September Sunday.  Love & light!

"Therefore if you have any encouragement
from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love,
if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love,
being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you
to the interests of the others."

~Philippians 2:1-4


September 24, 2011

Greyscale Manhattan

I've often heard about how people aren't usually tourists in the city of their own residence. I can honestly say that I have fit into that category. Living on Long Island, I've traveled into Manhattan perhaps hundreds of times, though usually with a destination or a purpose in mind. I had never just stayed in an NYC hotel room, sailed on the Circle Line, visited the Statue of Liberty, walked the observation deck at the Empire State Building, or taken a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park. I had never emerged from Penn Station with a suitcase in hand.

Not long ago, I decided to book a room on the Upper East Side so I could check out all of the famous NY landmarks. For this excursion, I brought along my old 35mm camera with several rolls of black and white film. It's been a long time since I've had to get any photographs developed, but the results came out very good. I've always thought that Manhattan looks fabulous in greyscale and I know Woody Allen would agree. I had a great time sightseeing in my own city and I hope you will enjoy looking at the snapshots that came from it. Cheers!!!

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men
into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith
and pierced themselves with many griefs."

~1 Timothy 6:6-10


September 17, 2011

Whale of a Day: East End Saturday

Montauk Point Lighthouse, the first ever built in the state of New York, was commissioned by the Second Congress under President George Washington in 1792. From that time until the present, mariners have been sailing the waters off of the easternmost tip of Long Island under the safety and navigational aid of the tower. In order to insure the preservation of this historic landmark, ownership was transferred from the Coast Guard to the Montauk Historical Society in 1996. Since then, it has been functioning as both a lighthouse and a museum.

Once inside, one finds many nautical exhibits, the most fascinating for me being the early examples of Fresnel lenses, which are capable of refracting light from simple whale oil lamps miles out to sea. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath as I ascended the 137 spiraling steps that lead up to the tower. It was well worth the climb as the vantage rewards the eye with unparalleled ocean and beach scenery. On this crystal clear morning with the Atlantic breeze caressing my cheeks, I stood at the lighthouse's pinnacle for several minutes to allow the sheer beauty of the surroundings to seep into my heart and mind. It was a feeling of absolute freedom...

Also on site is the Fisherman's Memorial, a bronze statue on a granite base with an inscription that reads, "In Remembrance of Those Lost at Sea While Fishing These Waters." When viewing a dedication such as this, I almost always get caught up in a moment of solemnity.

From the lighthouse, I traveled to Sag Harbor, a whaling village settled sometime between 1707 and 1730. It is a place with many defining landmarks, the first of which I visited being the Custom House. This dwelling was the residence and office of U. S. Custom Master Henry Packer Dering. It gives a glimpse into the lifestyle of affluent Long Island circa 1790. In the living room, I found the ceiling cut out to house an antique grandfather clock. In the pantry resides a jar of 100-year old peaches. In one of the bedrooms, there is a rope bed complete with tightening key; such beds spawned the old adage "Sleep tight."

Next door to the Custom House is the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum. As I stepped through a pair of whale jawbones into the building's foyer, I found myself in a place that was full to the gunwales with Old-World navigational tools and maps, wooden ship models, fishing implements, and all things cetological.

One gallery showcases the work of Cappy Hjalmar Amundsen, a well-known artist and Sag Harbor legend. His paintings depict vibrant scenes of seafaring adventure and whaling expeditions. This year marks the one-hundreth anniversary of his birth.

Out of Sag Harbor, I took the South Ferry over to Shelter Island where I played a round of mini golf at a small, local amusement park called the "Whale's Tale." Speaking of which, if you're interested in reading a great whale tale, I recommend the book "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex" by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is an intense historical account and I'm currently reading it for the second time. Also, to hear a more heart-warming whale story, click HERE.

Then, as evening began to settle, I sailed on the North Ferry to Greenport, where I ended my East End Saturday with dinner at the restaurant called "The Loft." It was truly a "whale of a day" and I was feeling great. Cheers!!!

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor."

~Proverbs 18:12