Montauk Point Lighthouse. November 13, 2016. Montauk Point Lighthouse is the iconic image of Long Island, rivaled only by Fire Island Lighthouse. It was commissioned by the Second Continental Congress and authorized by President Washington’s administration, becoming the very first public works project in the United States (how about that for bragging rights!) The first lighthouse was opened in 1796 and complaining about high property taxes commenced immediately. The present tower was completed in 1860. It is still an aid to navigation. “The End” is always worth a visit, but try to avoid a summer’s day as there is only a two lane road to Montauk and it passes through the very busy Hamptons. It will take hours. The best time to visit is in the fall or winter.
I was born in Mineola, a town in Nassau County on Long Island, but I didn’t grow up here. My family moved when I was an infant, first to Rockville MD, and later to Franklin Lakes NJ. Franklin Lakes is where I really grew up, from 2nd grade through high school. I returned to Long Island after college in 1983 to take a job with speaker maker Dahlquist, based right in the middle of the island in Hauppauge (pronounced “Hop-Ogg”…lots of Indian names on Long Island). I moved up from Virginia with all my possessions packed into my little Fiat 124 Spider (I didn’t have much!) in the summer of that year. Long Island seemed mysterious and even, in places, magical. Think about it – a large island (in fact the largest in the United States) hidden behind New York City. People in NJ really had no idea about Long Island and most people on Long Island assumed the world stopped in Manhattan…or maybe even Brooklyn or Queens. My first quarters were in Hampton Bays right on the water, although only for a couple of weeks, My mom had a friend with a house there with a guest cottage which they allowed me to use while I searched for more permanent housing. Still, it was a great introduction to Long Island. I moved to Stony Brook Village in search of college kids my age at the time. I didn’t find many but I did meet my future wife there. The two of us moved off the island briefly (to distant Rockland County) but when she got pregnant with our first child, we moved back. So it goes. This place has a pull on its natives. This may be our last year on Long Island as warmer climate beckons. Again, so it goes, a traditional migratory pattern. In the mean time, I’ve spent quite a bit of time documenting the places I enjoy and also discovering new ones, camera in hand.
North Fork Surf, Winter 2016. The North Fork is the last remnant of rural Long Island where farmer’s still till the soil, although it is mostly wine country these days. It’s a shame to say it, but I think it will be developed and commercialized in the next 10-20 years. You can see it steadily happening…the price of progress. But the coast line is beautifully rugged and rocky in many parts, a sharp contrast to the sandy beaches of the south shore Atlantic beaches. For the most part, the Long Island Sound is relatively protected but when the wind is right it can kick up a serious surf.
Fire Island Lighthouse, October 2017. Fire Island Lighthouse, opened in 1860 and now part of the Fire Island National Seashore, is the one true rival to Montauk Lighthouse although there are many other lighthouses in the area. It’s a beauty and towers over abundant wildlife, dunes and wide sandy beaches. Unlike Montauk Point, it is easily reached pretty well any time of year. Wooden walkways lead through the dunes from Field Five where you will often see herds of deer.
After the ‘Canes, November 2017. Long Island is self-evidently an island, but it’s easy to forget that in our suburban sprawl. We have no sight lines that extend beyond the next house or building. Yet, we are very much an island with elevations for the most part only a few feet above sea level. Our south shore is protected by the thin barrier islands known as Fire Island. Without that protection, well, it could get ugly around here. This picture was taken after Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed well offshore but kicked up a mighty surf. We got lucky this time but we don’t always luck out. Sandy did tremendous damage, and I’ve lived here through Irene, Bob and at least one other hurricane plus some nasty Nor’Easters and blizzards.
Ospery Takes Flight, April 2017. Taken at the beautiful Bayard-Cutting Arboretum in Great River, these Osprey were about 100′ up in a tree. The amazing thing about Osprey is that they migrate all the way to South America each winter and return to the same next in the spring, a journey of thousands of miles. They hunt in the nearby Connetquot River. Osprey are one of many types of wildlife here on the Island living in the shadow of millions of humans.