Sagaponack Community Notes, November 17


Shinnecock, seen from above, is marked by the outgoing tide. Long lines of dead fish drift with it, yet silver banks of them are washed upon the shore. Food, fertilizer, oil; when a mass of bunker depletes all the oxygen in a constricted body of water, they will die en masse.A fishkill used to be a boon. Now, since we’ve moved beyond a subsistence-and-thrift existence, the event is viewed with fear and disgust. Perhaps as something we are responsible for. The warmer the water, the more quickly all its oxygen is expended.

But, secondly, yet more immediately, the fish need to be cleaned up. There are no bunker boats plying our waters, so the once-valuable resource goes to waste. How “waste” did not make it into the Seven Deadly Sins, I don’t understand. My best guess is that waste was a concept not yet invented. The topography and history of this region, cooperation of the land and water, the very thing that has led to so much exploitation, is a wonder to behold.

Because I took a short vacation, and didn’t spend the weekend making scarecrows, it was possible to spend all day Monday going in a constant circle. The full moon, the lush assortment of grains—rye, wheat, triticale or barley—means geese haunt our fields. I hope the goose pressure will let up. Goose pressure, or GPA (goose pressure per acre), is something a farmer can measure by calculating the amount of work he completed, divided by the number of times he got in a truck and drove to each field, multiplied by the frustration he felt.

A farmer no sooner returns from the rounds when he must go out again. We can watch from the shop yard—some flocks make a second pass to pick up stragglers before heading toward Mecox or Wainscott, but others set their wings and drop in again. I suppose, like most forms of pressure, GPA builds until it gets to be too much, and then there is a figurative or literal release.

In my case, there is a sort of explosion: My temper causes my perspective to shift, and I feel, finally, persuasively, how a bird lover can also need to hunt.

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