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Thursday, July 24, 2014

From Southampton to the South Bronx

I happened upon Munn Point*, like a pearl in the sand, when looking for the free beach. The stunning view reminded me of standing above the marsh on my beloved bridge behind Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod. I didn't expect the Hamptons to remind me of my Cape,
but Southampton most certainly did.
Toplaire Flower Shop on Jobs Lane--like a picture postcard on the outside.
As soon as I crossed the threshold, it was as if I'd buried my nose in a heady summer bouquet.
I should have explained that I'd been to the Hamptons before..but it seemed like a lifetime ago, and I guess it was...I didn't have a feeling for it, hadn't really sized it up or taken it in...H. and I went for one overnight to Sag Harbor the summer I was expecting Figgy...I also tagged along with him one night when he was working at a party out that way, and maybe baby Figgy was with us...and when she was 3, I went on a weekend press trip to Montauk sponsored by Jane makeup. But as on most press trips, our time was scheduled and I didn't explore--plus, it was off-season.

I was surprised and struck by the wild beauty of Southampton--not the tall manicured hedges but the marshy grasses by the bay, the wooden bridges, the simple beaches. Even though I did have to hunt them down a matter how wealthy and privileged you are, it all comes down to the sea and the sand. And as my Irish immigrant grandfather used to say about bacon and eggs ["Even if you're the richest man in the world, nothing tastes better"], even if you're the richest or poorest, nothing is more quieting [unless you're a child] and equalizing than an ocean beach, in all its raw beauty and calm rhythm.

As for the shopping on Main Street, my favorite store was Hildreth's, an old department store stocked with home goods from Molton Brown shower gels to lobster chowder cups, spools of fancy ribbon, plush towels for your many weekend  house guests.

Sorry to say the candy in town did not compete with the offerings on Cape Cod or Madison Avenue--though I've read about Estée Lauder giving her friends pillowy chocolate-covered marshmallows as parting gifts at her parties, she had them shipped in from somewhere. [I don't think she had a home in the Hamptons, but Aerin Lauder does, and I think it's on her site that I read about the marshmallows.]

As I said, I reluctantly left paradise, folding up my chair and yellow towel and forcing myself to walk off that sand. I stopped at the McDonald's on the way out of town to eat something, get an iced coffee, call H. and charge my dead phone [again].....didn't leave until 8:29 p.m. [I don't have a phone charger for the car.]

But I paid the piper.

I figured I'd just reverse the directions that H. had kindly written out for me. I liked driving East on the Long Island seemed peaceful and unspoiled, some farm fields here, some wildflowers there. But in the dark, I somehow I missed an exit [for Route 111?] and got off the LIE and onto Route 27 East for the long run. I thought New Jersey was king of the shiny-diner states but there were so many on Route 27!--and Dunkin' Donuts shops at regular intervals. Then I hit road construction and lane closures....then somehow ended up circling around JFK Airport, don't ask....seeing signs for Hawaiian Air and Grand Cayman and God knows what else.....then I finally got out of there and somehow ended up in the South Bronx. Siri let me down because when I asked how to get to 95 South, she told me it would be 4 hours plus, so I panicked....I was underneath an El train in the Bronx....finally made it back onto 95 South and was so glad to see the great gray bridge looming ahead. My hero, tall and strong, the GWB.

Felt like Dad was in the passenger seat next to me. We took a lot of long drives together and enjoyed our chats. Thinking he was there calmed me down. It took me three hours to get home and I thanked God I made it safely--and that once Siri put me on the right path, the phone power hung on until I was right near Montclair! Good karma.

Behind Southampton Arts Center.
As I was leaving the Road D beach [[bad name, and don't know what the D stands for], I looked to my left and found a perfect clamshell in the sand, a shell with a hole in the top. I'm about to thread some pretty ribbon through it and hang it where I'll always see it and remember the day in July 2014 that I drove to the Hamptons by myself, leaving home 8:30 a.m. and returning 11:30 p.m. I'm grateful for time alone, even alone among strangers.

Good night to you.

  1. Walked Sug around block.
  2. Weeded and gardened and finally gave our cluttered mantel a clean sweep.
  3. Met my friend Anne for iced coffee and fruit.
  4. Read NY Times Thursday Styles Section and took a nap with Sug.
  5. Loved hearing H. sing songs by candlelight on his ukulele as we sat on the sofa late at night, candles on the mantel. Punch returns tomorrow evening. We have savored this breather, though my time with Fig has been painful, sadly.
*Munn Point is named for Orson D. Munn, a Southampton Village trustee from 1967 to 1986. The wooden bridge stretches out to Shinnecock Bay. 


  1. When I go to the Cape, I always say, "it reminds me of Bellport". Geologically, they are the same, (terminal moraines from glaciers, or, as my high school teacher put it, "glacial garbage heaps". The native flora and fauna are almost the same as well.

    Ain't nothin' like an ocean beach for centering oneself.

    1. Hi Nan. So true nothing like an ocean beach...and I 'm
      Loving all these glimpses at people from your past--first the beachside gardener and now the high school
      teacher . Great. Thank you!
      And for me , a 2.5 hr drive vs. 6 to the cape. So can do in a day. I heard fire island is lovely too. Thanks for writing. Xo Alice