My windows are closed for the first time since June. It’s chilly! On Fairview Avenue I see signs of fall such as the tiny white flowers of sweet autumn clematis giving off a vanilla scent and blanketing the roadside foliage near my house. There’s a stand of perennial Joe-Pye weed growing in a nearby vacant lot. Every summer these fluffy pink wildflowers signal the approach of the first day of school. Right now the flowers have changed to purplish brown seed heads in contrast with the goldenrod coming into full bloom. I stand in certain parts of my backyard and catch a strong whiff of wild grapes, although not many grapes are visible this year and I don’t think there’s enough to make jelly.
Our son Dan is home from school on weekends to work various part-time jobs. I’m definitely talking to him more than when he lived in East Hampton earlier this year. The hard part is saying goodbye Sunday afternoon when he heads back to the city. “Mom, do you think I could take that small white table in the studio,” and similar questions are routine as he collects things for the apartment. I gave him a set of steak knives that were my parents’ along with various kitchen implements including the potato masher I used when I first lived on my own in San Diego.
On Sunday I attended a free lecture on Chinese culture at the Montauk Library. An audience of about 25 listened attentively as Dr. George Wei, an engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s sustainable energy technologies department, and his younger assistant, Dr. Long Hu, gave the presentation. Both men achieved the difficult process of leaving China to become American citizens. Dr. Wei said he applied 36 times just to get a passport to travel outside China. Currently they give informative presentations on Chinese culture all over Long Island, at venues like schools and libraries, purely to “share understanding of Chinese culture with the whole world.”
Many ancient cultures existed all over the world, yet Chinese culture is unique in sustaining its traditions for more than 5,000 years, despite wars and other hardships. The occasion was in honor of the 3,000 year old Moon Festival, also called the Mid-Autumn Festival of the Harvest Moon, which this year takes place September 19.
We learned Chinese ethnicity encompasses cultural lines, more important than bloodlines. Chinese scholars kept written records for thousands of years that are still accessible today. I learned the five values of Confucius from 2,500 years ago are: benevolence, justice, propriety, wisdom and integrity.
“How did Chinese written characters originate?” was one of the first questions asked by the audience. Dr. Wei said it would take a separate two-hour lecture just to introduce the subject. He kindly showed us a chart illustrating the development of simple Chinese characters, such as sun, moon and rain. We saw how the characters evolved from pictograms. There are 5,000 characters in common usage. The entire Chinese lexicon is more like 50,000 characters. A slide of a painted portrait of the legendary figure, Tsang-chieh, “four eyes” was shown. Legend has it he pulled all 50,000 Chinese characters out of the universe in one quick inspiration. We contemplated a handsome man with an extra set of eyes in his forehead. According to Dr. Wei, the entire Encyclopedia Britannica can be written in just 4,000 Chinese characters.
This week at the library, classical pianist Anne Tedesco performs a concert of works written for the piano by celebrated composers Greig, Brahms, Schuman, Ravel, Mozart, Chopin and Chabrier on Sunday, September 22 at 3:30 p.m.
Ms. Tedesco combines both a teaching and performing career. She is an adjunct professor of music at St. John’s University, where she has taught music history, theory, classical piano, and fine arts since 1982. Ms. Tedsco and husband Carmine own a home in Montauk.
The concert is free and open to the public and takes place in the lower level, Suzanne Koch Gosman Room. Please call 668-3377 to confirm or for more information.
Lori Newell of Living Well Fitness in Montauk invites you to “get dancing” on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Montauk Community Church. James West from the Arthur Murray Dance center in Southampton will teach basic steps of popular ballroom and nightclub and country western step dances.
Mr. West holds a bachelor’s degree in public health and a master’s summa cum laude in social work from the University of Palmers Greene, London. A 27-year veteran with the Arthur Murray Dance Centers, Mr. West began as a novice instructor in 1986 in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2002, Mr. West became manager of the Plainview, New York City and Merrick Arthur Murray dance studios. He recently took over as the chief of operations in the Southampton studio while he continues to serve as the New York and Long Island master dance examiner and judge.
The cost for eight classes is $100. Ask about discounts for AARP members. Classes began September 16. Attendance on a drop-in basis is welcome, though pre-registration is required. Please call 283-1488 to sign up. No previous dance experience is required. Partners are rotated so you don’t even need a partner. I attended the open house this summer and found this an enjoyable way to meet fellow Montaukers while painlessly getting some exercise. Introducing myself as the writer of this column earned me a spin around the room with Mr. West and gave me reason to believe I may actually be able to learn to dance.
This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22, from noon to 5 p.m. each day, the Kiwanis Club of East Hampton and Montauk Friends of Erin will host the first-ever Montauk Seafood Festival under the tent at Montauk Marine Basin, next to Lynn’s Hula Hut.
You’ll sample signature dishes from local restaurants and caterers, including lobster rolls, raw seafood bar, seafood crepes, tuna sliders, sushi, ceviche, crab cakes, fish tacos … just for starters! For kids there’s a snapper derby, goldfish racing and fish prints. Live music by the 3 Bs, Timmy Fee and Remember September. A Fishing Legends Q&A is also in the works. The weather forecast for the weekend, as of this writing, looks promising. Admission and parking for the festival are free. Please call (516)660-0100, or visit www.MontaukSeafoodFestival.com. For more information.
Ten thousand dollars in cash prizes is being offered at The “Last Hurrah” Tuna Tournament sponsored by Montauk Marine Basin and White Water Outfitters, which runs from September 27 through October 12. Only 50 boats can participate and registration is open now. For rules and to register, visit Montauk Marine Basin’s website www.marinebasin.com.
The Mighty Man Sprint, a great beginner and veteran sprint distant course takes place Saturday, September 28, starting at 6:40 a.m. till noon. The Sprint is hosted by the Montauk Bike Shop, which can be contacted at 668-8975 for more information, or visit the event link at www.tri-guy.com. This is a great beginner and veteran sprint distance course, with, hopefully, calm water and a mostly flat bike loop with one challenging climb.
Mark your calendars for the Montauk Historical Society’s second annual Archaeology Fest, Saturday, October 5, on the grounds of the Montauk’s Second House Museum. Last year’s Archaeology Fest drew a crowd of close to 700. The festival raises community awareness and support for a second museum on the site, still in the planning stages, which will celebrate and explore Montauk’s rich archeological and natural history.
Montauk’s 32nd annual Fall Festival takes place the weekend of October 12 and 13. The famous Clam Chowder Contest and Grucci fireworks are highlighted events of this special weekend sponsored by the Montauk Chamber of Commerce. Call 668-2428 for more information or visit www.montaukchamber.com.