Now that we’ve had at least one morning with the water buckets frozen, people become afraid. We are worried about what winter might bring: the treachery, the discomfort, the literal layers one must employ for all activities. The elements are telling us to hibernate, at least partially, and yet it is our commerce to carry on, behaving as if there were no season for cessation.It’s true that, come wintertime, almost all the summer flock has flown. Those who “duck out” for a quick weekend are few and far between. And yet notably different is our traffic: Sagg is extraordinarily busy with building, but never so empty in the night. Not a house stirs.
One of the oldest, The Hearthstone, is entirely gone after a fire and subsequent demolition. Only a clean, antique cellar remains, with its fieldstones stacked so neatly, intentionally, laboriously, locally—yes, very, very locally. The remnant is Roman compared to our modern foundations.
In Barbara Albright and Caroline Halsey’s book, “Sagaponack Now and Then,” there are many photos that will make you pause and stare harder. This is particularly true if you can find a relation among the early black-and-whites. No date is given for the Actors Guild, but there stand and sit six men and five women, a few of them in costume, or clowning, who held performances at different homes. I know several of these men were farmers, and so I am guessing that this is something they did to pass the long nights of wintertime.
Though in different venue, the practice still exists. On a chilly night in November, we are treated to a production of “Hamlet.” It’s true, we had to take the horse and buggy all the way to East Hampton to see this play, but rarely is an evening as rewarding as this—to be taught Shakespeare by seeing it, hearing it, watching it move across the faces of this generous troupe. The opportunity seems as rare as it is replete.
Three hours is so intense that it seems like one. We leave Guild Hall wide-eyed.
A few weeks prior, we’d ventured all the way to Quogue to see a tender and outrageous comedy called “Harvey.” We laughed and cried too—much more laughter here than “Hamlet,” though “Hamlet” has its share. What stayed constant was the quality of what we saw. On both occasions, these actors were so good that one could lose sight of the fact that they are actors.
After the play is over, great performances live with you; I find myself mulling the characters as if they had a second chance—and wanting to thank the actors for working so hard, and wanting to encourage more people to go, sit in those velvet seats.