If you are sixty-something, not only is it autumn on the calendar, it is autumn in your life cycle. It’s a strange season with beauty, change, and a preparation for the suddenness of the bitter cold of winter. What 2020 has taught people our age is that the future is certainly uncertain and the end can always be very near. Yet, I love autumn. I love the leaves turning those amazing colors, with every tree a genuine living pop art exhibit. Sailing out to Gardiner’s Bay in the evenings, watching the green hills of Three Mile Harbor slowly turn into a collection of colors dotted by pine trees prepares me for the time coming extremely soon of taking the sailboat out of the water, folding up the sails and winterizing the motor.
This last year has been a most difficult one to navigate due to COVID-19, yet there I was out in beautiful Gardiner’s Bay navigating my 22′ Catalina through the shifting winds, and many big sunset skies like any other year. I know now the time I can do these whole summers of sunset sailing are winding down. I even fell in the water late one night getting off my boat due to a loss of balance – years back I used to jump off like a kid. However, even as one ages, one thing remains very constant – that being the forever beauty of the East End.
COVID could not diminish the natural beauty of the East End of Long Island. Brutal summer traffic and summer season crowds can never lessen the beauty and power you feel when you stand on any of the Hamptons ocean beaches in the summer and gaze out and try to see France on the other side of the ocean. I love the sound of a wind gust blowing through trees, some that were standing where they are hundreds of years ago. If you love history as I do, there is a historical presence on so many Hamptons back roads that makes one’s mind wonder what it was like back in those first days.
My wife and I took a long walk around the acres that surround the historical home of William Floyd, the Long Islander who signed the Declaration of Independence. As we walked the old supply road that is the road to the sea from the home, it was now covered with freshly colored leaves. I love that unique sound the feet make with every step on such leaf covered trails. It reminds me of as far back as I can remember doing such as a child. In the middle of the hike, we passed the Floyd family cemetery and were surprised to see an auxiliary cemetery adjacent that had white crosses and the names of noted slaves, who cultivated the 4,000 acres of fields this farmstead home consisted of in the 1700’s. My wife Cindi pointed out the slave graves had no last names. That alone is a powerful statement of what was taken along with their lives to pursue their individual happiness stated on the very document William Floyd signed on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia.
It’s now the time of year that when the wind blows mightily, thus launching a skyful of colored autumn leaves to start their plight fluttering down to the ground. As kids we drove our bikes through the leaves, as teens we kissed as we played in them, and as homeowners we raked them up, pre leaf blower. At this time in life, I feel like a summer leaf beginning to turn a bright red-orange to stay as attached to the tree as long as possible before a stiff, sudden wind or nasty windy rainstorms brings me to the ground forever.