Friday, February 6, 2009
One of the things I love about the winter months in East Hampton is the wonderful views we have that aren't available during the summer. With all the foliage off the trees we are privy to some of the most wonderful vistas of both public and private places. For me personally that means a perfect view of the Hook Mill and cemetery across the way from my house. I can also see the homes lined up along North Main and the activity along that street from walkers to bikers to emergency vehicles - all within my eyesight. Years ago when my mother-in-law was well enough to be taking her daily walk I could sometimes catch a glimpse of her heading into town.
A drive around the village offers really nice glimpses of normally hidden spaces: Ocean Avenue, Further Lane, and Lee Avenue all reveal some lovely homes no longer hidden behind their forests of landscaping, and ponds like Hook and Lily are easy to see.
One of the most interesting things about looking at old postcards of East Hampton is the lack of trees everywhere and the wide open spaces. I'm not sure why we are so infatuated with heavy landscaping because the wonderful ocean breezes would be so much more enjoyable for everyone if they weren't trapped by the trees and bushes we've filled every available space with. I love the lush greenery as much as the next person, but when I look around in the winter and see what we're missing it makes me a little sad. Perhaps our need for privacy is partly to blame for our more isolated society. Even in East Hampton, which is a small town and pretty friendly in general, we tend to put up walls of green, and gates and fences, which replace what once were houses and front yards that welcomed strangers in. I long for the days - not that long ago - when a walk down any street resulted in a number of stops along the way to chat with neighbors working in their yards or sitting on front porches. Life was simpler then, but we were certainly more neighborly as well.
Time doesn't go backwards and I'm not thinking we'll ever recapture those wonderful days. But the winter, with its beautiful, unobstructed views of those hidden places, can at least give us a peek at what used to be.