Sagaponack Community Notes, December 17

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The honeybees meet me in the broccoli field, where all the unharvested green heads are going to flower. The bees crowd the fragrant yellow spires. I cannot judge this scenario as good or bad, but I’m glad it is here for them.The cemetery tree has made the switch to LED. My mother, the tree’s chief critic, actually slipped and called it “dull.” She went on to correct herself by way of comparison: The old lights, which were glass bulbs, burned hotter and brighter. The tree shimmered in golden brilliance, remaining visible in fog and in blizzard alike. The new tree is subdued; it simmers in a blue bath of light.

It will take some getting used to. But for now, I can wish and try to see it as the people in passing cars do. Unfamiliar with a preferred memory, they slow down to observe the tall, albeit cool, multicolor splendor.

Come judge the lights for yourself: the Sing is Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

It may seem like I have written the newspaper column forever, but I have predecessors—one of them being Kelsey Marechal, who died last week. Kelsey set the bar high. He could sit at the counter in the General Store most afternoons, with Don Spellman across from him, the coffee machine between them, and write about Sagaponack, pre-SAGAPONACK. We were made up of old farm families, a few artists, a few writers, divorced moms from New York City—we were the boondocks. People, even in neighboring towns, stumbled on Sagg’s pronunciation.

Kelsey would humorously chronicle the first growing pains, “personal statement” houses and Academy Awards for the most (un)remarkable additions to the local landscape.

My mother and I searched for the clipping but could not find Kelsey’s official census of Sagaponack. He began counting people but quickly found so few that he began adding animals, pets, parakeets, ponies and soon wound up with a lot more creatures than humans. It was true then, and it is probably true now.

The General Store is for sale again. Longtime residents fear change—will they have coffee in wintertime? I read the listing over and over, trying to decide if the store could become the office of a landscape design firm. So tempting is the recollection of the place where Kelsey sat, a triggered glimpse can become damn near hallucinatory.

If it were early evening, the cat would be asleep in the front window, and if it were this time of year, the window would be cozily decorated for Christmas. The post office and the General Store were reversed then, and there was a breezeway between the two. This was perhaps the only time of year when a child would have preferred the post office to the candy case next door, because in the post office’s front window was a miniature, mesmerizing replica of the very building you stood in. Merrill’s “dollhouse” depicted a time set in my mind as “olden times,” at least a hundred years ago. And, gazing into that handmade, old-fashioned world, how could I not want, so severely, to attend?

It is now, seeing dark windows there, when I recognize my fascination as a premature bout of nostalgia.

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