My agricultural upbringing and “ongoing” has brought me into close contact regularly with very big things. Sometimes it is a task that must be done by hand. To weed the direct-seeded onions is to draw from the burgeoning sea of weeds and reclaim, from an abyss, a line as thin as hair—though not impossible, it is fairly monumental. Sometimes “big” is defined by horsepower; my family’s tradition is to never be without enough power. So sometimes it is the tractor that dwarfs the relative world.
Beyond these two points of reference is the fact that I live in Sagaponack, and large groundnuts abound. I appreciate scale and relativity.
The function of the limousine is to protect, to tote royalty around, from where they can wave to their adoring masses through bulletproof glass. The limo is there to make sure teens aren’t drinking and driving themselves on prom night, that bachelors are safe, and bachelorettes too, on their last wild night. Conclusively, the limos exude anonymous, mysterious presence through length and tinted glass.
One rolled, long as a caboose, down Highway 27. It was a Hummer, big as I have ever seen, so long that it had tandem axles in the rear, like you see on tractor-trailers. It had a tennis court, not a hot tub. Why did it not, with that excessive roof space, have solar panels just for fun? Why not try to turn a sinking ship around?
The nasty weather out of the north on Sunday made plenty of people rush for their cameras, thinking of Christmas cards. The wind and its snow squalls also made it a perfect morning for Sagg Main Beach. What is special about Sagg Main is not the ocean but the ocean and the pond. And that you can walk around the back, off the parking lot, and be in an environment where in contrast to a wave crash you hear a minnow leap or a muskrat dive; the ring created by this movement issues across the blackish water.
When they made this parking lot, the spoil that was pushed makes a protected trail where a clump of maples spring from the rugosa. Now I can count the nests in these bushes. The goldenrod is long spent and the other weeds are but spindly sticks. The cedars are stunted, some branches split. The phragmite knocks loudly together, and I, at the moment, am happy to have it, as its myriad blades are the battered front against the wind.
The mockingbird is the barometer, silent and ruffled, indistinguishable in the bittersweet thicket. I make my way west, toward the spot I call the rose garden, where the line of small sheltering dunes ends, because in the past the beach has breached here. A family of flickers is just ahead of me. Three of them fly, one following the next from point to point; they rise, then vanish, much like the gusts themselves. A cardinal flits across the trail, which causes a wren to start to scold. He was well hidden in the brush, but now that he protests, I see his quick and beady eye and his agate position is revealed.
And where the trail bends left and the coastal habitat is widest, house finches are in small flocks making somersaulting flights from clump to thorny clump. When they land, they dive and settle so quickly into the brambles that you must listen, refocus to find them where they next perch. While at first invisible, their dusty red feathers are as radiant as the cadmium glint at the first sight of dawn.