My task, in composing this weekly piece, is to talk or think about Sagaponack, and some troubled or great element within it. Sometimes, though, remaining exclusively focused is impossible. Last night, the thick blade of the moon was cradled by Venus and Jupiter and something as delicate as a song sparrow was driven out of the darkness by the wind and into my window.
I was splitting wood. With the help of a machine, I was mauling huge, old logs that had sat for years, into slices. The amount of life I was disturbing was not lost on me. The woodpile is in the chicken yard; it provides the hens with some extra protein, and something to do, as they scratch around the dropping scrolls of bark.
Thankfully, someone, under the cover of darkness, improved the “police-state” billboards that seek to control speeding (which they don’t) on CR 39. Some of the most terrifying driving I have ever witnessed has been on CR 39. I won’t go into the details because so many others, people who drive far more than me, have made this observation.
Still—and I know I may take heat for this—the huge stern cop, aiming his radar gun at passing traffic, was mean, unpleasant, and ineffective to boot. I prefer the signs now, the cop and his car and the words “strictly enforced” entirely whited-out and in freehand, giant letters were ‘Please’ on one sign and ‘Thank you’ on the other. The work is so bold that for a moment I thought the police themselves might be using reverse psychology and had the signs done over on purpose.
The recession-era holiday chased people back to their country homes. Throughout the long weekend, the horizon of the shortest days was emblazoned by house lights. While I ultimately prefer darkness and stars, the glowing homes were heartwarming. The thing that haunts many of us about Sagaponack is not so much the houses built on arable land, but the near permanent state of emptiness that comes over the place. After the finish carpenters withdraw, these places go mostly dead. So it is good to see them in use, I guess.
The roads, the back roads that have gone empty as of late, refilled with traffic. As I approached the bustling intersection of Ocean and Sagaponack roads, I saw that someone had lost a small bundle of wood, three handsome logs. I had no way of knowing how long the wood had been there—or how much longer it would be. Unlike wildlife, hardwood can be driven over all day and not look much worse. Or, if you’re lucky, the logs will be big enough to force all sorts of swerving, such as these.
Naturally, I was surprised that traffic in the intersection hadn’t immediately come to a standstill and a melee broken out over who should get to take the wood. I crossed the intersection. Keeping one eye on the rearview mirror, I kept expecting some one else to hop out first, but traffic kept proceeding, swerving. I parked at a safe distance and ran back.
Uncontested, I felt a little let down. I gathered the armload and instead felt incredibly lucky.