Recent Stories: Columnists

Jack Graves
August 17, 2017
Gustavo Morastitla said in answer to a question I’d posed following Jordan’s Run at the end of last month that the summer, after all, was only half over.

Gustavo Morastitla said in answer to a question I’d posed following Jordan’s Run at the end of last month that the summer, after all, was only half over.

I, on the other hand, was beginning to feel a chill. That, I suppose, is the difference between 17 and 77. 

Soon, very soon, summer will be over, I’m telling you. You can already see dead leaves, signs of change, but as Al Franken in a former incarnation used to say, “And that’s okay.”

David E. Rattray
August 17, 2017
A hurricane passed well east of us this week. The storm was born as a low-pressure area in the Atlantic off the Turks and Caicos. Sometime around Sunday, it pulled itself together, and the National Hurricane Center gave it the eighth name on its current list.

A hurricane passed well east of us this week. The storm was born as a low-pressure area in the Atlantic off the Turks and Caicos. Sometime around Sunday, it pulled itself together, and the National Hurricane Center gave it the eighth name on its current list.

Gert was, for us, the first tropical storm of the season. On land, one scarcely would have known of it, except for a rumble of suddenly high surf. At the beach, it was different. As the day ended Tuesday, the sea began to stir, and lifeguards at the village beaches talked about whether to drag their stands to higher ground for the night. 

Helen S. Rattray
August 10, 2017
The Ethiopian-American population of the United States is 2 million, with Ethiopians second only to Nigerians among people of African origin. The number is significant even given Ethiopia’s current population of an incredible 104,396,011, as estimated by the United Nations.

The Ethiopian-American population of the United States is 2 million, with Ethiopians second only to Nigerians among people of African origin. The number is significant even given Ethiopia’s current population of an incredible 104,396,011, as estimated by the United Nations.

Jack Graves
August 10, 2017
Jordan’s Run, in memory of a young hero, wasn’t of course just a race, but a time to reflect.

Jordan’s Run, in memory of a young hero, wasn’t of course just a race, but a time to reflect. 

The memory that our government’s incursion 14 years ago into the cradle of civilization was impulsive, with profoundly tragic consequences, only serves to compound the suffering it has spawned and to widen the circle of compassion that attends it, even unto the small towns where the death of a soldier — a Marine in this case — comes, as Joi Jackson Perle said the other day, as a shock. 

Judy D’Mello
August 10, 2017
Apparently, dogs go through a teenage phase. This according to the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Science in England, which, after much research, found that our canine friends display traits that are similar to those of human teens.

Apparently, dogs go through a teenage phase. This according to the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Science in England, which, after much research, found that our canine friends display traits that are similar to those of human teens.

No offense to the learned institution, but I’m not buying it. With an actual 17-year-old human in my house, as well as a dog who went through his supposed teen phase a few years ago, I feel I have empirical evidence to invalidate the university’s conclusion.

David E. Rattray
August 10, 2017
I awoke Tuesday to the cries of fledgling ospreys soaring overhead. Every year about this time, the young occupants of nearby nests launch into the air for their first flights at the beach and, exuberant, at least to my ears, screech in evident delight as they earn their wings.

I awoke Tuesday to the cries of fledgling ospreys soaring overhead. Every year about this time, the young occupants of nearby nests launch into the air for their first flights at the beach and, exuberant, at least to my ears, screech in evident delight as they earn their wings.

I did not know this sound as a child living near the same beach. As recounted in The Star’s most recent East magazine, which came out last week, osprey were once all but extinct. Among their few last refuges was Gardiner’s Island, where, although in a single 1905 count a local naturalist had found a nesting colony with as many as 600 breeding adult osprey, they had dwindled to a point in about 1966 at which only three or four fledglings survived.

Helen S. Rattray
August 3, 2017
It was one of the hottest days so far this summer, but it was one of the best.

It was one of the hottest days so far this summer, but it was one of the best.

Grandchildren visits are exactly what grandmothers crave — but this one was most unusual. One of my 7-year-old grandsons made my day by getting me to do something I never, ever thought I would do. I can safely say it was the first time in my life that I pitched some baseballs.

When my kids were that age, their father was on hand for sports and other such activities. He was more of a sailing man, but was able to throw a ball if the kids were interested.

Jack Graves
August 3, 2017
Henry Thoreau said, “Joy is the condition of life,” and I believe him. Certainly O’en, our white golden, does, especially now that he has as a houseguest a goldendoodle from Ohio named Fozzie.

Henry Thoreau said, “Joy is the condition of life,” and I believe him. Certainly O’en, our white golden, does, especially now that he has as a houseguest a goldendoodle from Ohio named Fozzie.

They are inseparable. Well, that’s putting it mildly. They’re the most vigorous, courteous love-makers I’ve ever seen, neither one lording it over the other unless that’s the scene they’re playing. Roles switch in a second, sort of like an ever-whirling yin-yang. Sometimes they just lie there, a foot apart, mouths agape, looking fondly at each other, exhausted.

David E. Rattray
August 3, 2017
I stand very much corrected. Last week, I wrote with some frustration that it was now impossible to find a parking place at Ditch Plain in Montauk after 10:30 on a sunny weekend morning. I was wrong.I stand very much corrected. Last week, I wrote with some frustration that it was now impossible to find a parking place at Ditch Plain in Montauk after 10:30 on a sunny weekend morning. I was wrong.

I stand very much corrected. Last week, I wrote with some frustration that it was now impossible to find a parking place at Ditch Plain in Montauk after 10:30 on a sunny weekend morning. I was wrong.

When I rolled in around 9 a.m. more recently, vehicles were backed up from the main lot onto DeForest Road. Others, left by drivers in no-parking zones, tempted expensive citations once the town traffic control officers got there.

The next data point was my friend Tim’s text saying the lots there were full by 8:45 a.m. on Sunday. Then, Russell in the Star front office moved the dial back to 8:30 a.m., when he had taken a pass through all three lots without luck.

Helen S. Rattray
July 27, 2017
The East Hampton Town Comprehensive Plan is an amazing 114-page document including tables, charts, and maps. It was adopted in May 2005 after about a year and a half of study by professional planners and of public debate. For the most part, we hear of it these days only when an official or activist points to something in it that is relevant to a current project.

The East Hampton Town Comprehensive Plan is an amazing 114-page document including tables, charts, and maps. It was adopted in May 2005 after about a year and a half of study by professional planners and of public debate. For the most part, we hear of it these days only when an official or activist points to something in it that is relevant to a current project.

Jack Graves
July 27, 2017
I read about “terminal lucidity” the other day, and breathed a sigh of relief inasmuch as I’m still wondering what it’s all about.

I read about “terminal lucidity” the other day, and breathed a sigh of relief inasmuch as I’m still wondering what it’s all about.

“At the end of life, it seems,” I said to Mary, “people who’ve been in comas and the like come to and ask how their grandchildren’s Little League season has been going.”

David E. Rattray
July 27, 2017
Saturday morning, 10:32 a.m. to be precise, might be a good time to stop at the Montauk Beer and Soda store to pick up a water and orange drink for a thirsty kid. Or so I thought.

Saturday morning, 10:32 a.m. to be precise, might be a good time to stop at the Montauk Beer and Soda store to pick up a water and orange drink for a thirsty kid. Or so I thought.

Montauk has changed a lot since the old days; we all know this. Still, I was not in any way prepared for just how busy it was this past Saturday when I rolled in thinking I could take the kids to the ocean beach.

The Kirk Park free lot was full, with drivers circling in vain looking for a spot. That should have been the first clue. Eastbound traffic was backed up and creeping when I turned right onto South Elmwood, hoping for a quick stop on the way to Ditch Plain. Ellis wanted something cold to drink. How bad could it be?

Helen S. Rattray
July 20, 2017
Corn and tomatoes. What more could anyone want at the height of the season? Right?

Corn and tomatoes. What more could anyone want at the height of the season? Right? 

But nothing, even luscious just-picked corn and tomatoes, is simple on the East End anymore. I wrote East End rather than South Fork or the Hamptons to describe this region because the food grown on the yet-to-be Hamptonized North Fork is surely among the best anywhere in the country.

Jack Graves
July 20, 2017
Speaking of having one’s wits about one, I, on my return home the other day from a hectic day of doing nothing, worrying as I was about what I would possibly write about that week — summer largely being what a sportswriter’s imagination says it is — I called out, “Have you seen my wits, Mary?”

Speaking of having one’s wits about one, I, on my return home the other day from a hectic day of doing nothing, worrying as I was about what I would possibly write about that week — summer largely being what a sportswriter’s imagination says it is — I called out, “Have you seen my wits, Mary?”

“Think — where were you when you last had them about you?”

“I’m not sure. . . . I could swear I had them about me when I was in the outdoor shower this morning.”

“Well, look there then.”

Christopher Walsh
July 20, 2017
Nina, am I you? Are you me? Standing before her tombstone at Oak Grove Cemetery as the leaves fell and were scattered on an autumn day, I did not expect an answer, but nonetheless had to ask.

Nina, am I you? Are you me? Standing before her tombstone at Oak Grove Cemetery as the leaves fell and were scattered on an autumn day, I did not expect an answer, but nonetheless had to ask. 

Hear me out, please, before pronouncing me insane. 

Nina is on my mind again, along with Tsuya Matsuki, who taught piano to me and to so many others across the decades at Miankoma Hall, where they lived.

Late last summer, in Amagansett, just after a grim and forbidding birthday, an email from a retired teacher near Philadelphia landed in front of me. He had purchased a recorder (the woodwind instrument) on eBay, and a label was affixed to its case: Tsuya Matsuki, with an address in East Orange, N.J.

David E. Rattray
July 20, 2017
A lot of the problems on the roads hereabouts could be solved if left turns were outlawed. This notion comes from a member of the Star staff who shall remain nameless and who also suggested with some seriousness that landscaping should be banned.

A lot of the problems on the roads hereabouts could be solved if left turns were outlawed. This notion comes from a member of the Star staff who shall remain nameless and who also suggested with some seriousness that landscaping should be banned.  

A landscaping ban, while an intriguing approach to traffic tie-ups, leaf-blower noise, and huge equipment-filled trailers left in roadways, is a long shot. Eliminating lefts, on the other hand, could really result in something good.

Helen S. Rattray
July 13, 2017
An image of a grandmother with an apron tied around her waist showing someone young how to make a cake came to mind last week. I am not certain whether it was wishful thinking or guilt. The truth is, I never bake much of anything and don’t even remember making chocolate-chip cookies when my kids were kids.

An image of a grandmother with an apron tied around her waist showing someone young how to make a cake came to mind last week. I am not certain whether it was wishful thinking or guilt. The truth is, I never bake much of anything and don’t even remember making chocolate-chip cookies when my kids were kids.

What actually happened in my kitchen last week was that my granddaughter Evvy, who just turned 13, was hanging around my house, saying she had nothing to do. She took me up on it when I rather halfheartedly suggested she bake a cake. Turns out, she is a whiz at baking cakes.

Jack Graves
July 13, 2017
We must stay calm, O’en and I, though this is a particularly trying season to pursue the middle way, neither sniffing nor yearning overmuch.

We must stay calm, O’en and I, though this is a particularly trying season to pursue the middle way, neither sniffing nor yearning overmuch.

“Tranquilo, tranquilo,” as I hear the men’s soccer team’s coaches urge pretty much constantly. “Calm, calm.” But how can you when you’ve been bumped from behind while waiting for the light to turn, cut off, jumped ahead of at a four-way stop, and such — all flagrant fouls, as it were, but nobody’s blowing a whistle and giving you a free kick. It’s a triumph of sorts simply to return home with your wits about you.

“If you can keep your wits while all about you are losing theirs. . . .”

David E. Rattray
July 13, 2017
The dune line to the east, and for a distance west, of my north-facing house on Gardiner’s Bay has been moving landward for as long as I can remember. Looking carefully the other night, I noticed a dark horizontal line in the low bluff, what was once the bottom of a bog, perhaps, above which was centuries’ worth of white sand, like vanilla frosting on a cake.

The dune line to the east, and for a distance west, of my north-facing house on Gardiner’s Bay has been moving landward for as long as I can remember. Looking carefully the other night, I noticed a dark horizontal line in the low bluff, what was once the bottom of a bog, perhaps, above which was centuries’ worth of white sand, like vanilla frosting on a cake.

This stratigraphy caught my attention while I was walking to Promised Land and back with my son, Ellis. He had been home all day with the remnants of a summer cold and was eager to get outside when I returned from the office. The short hook of beach where Multi-Aquaculture is now is covered with old bricks and rusting things, relics of the fish-processing plant that once operated there. 

Helen S. Rattray
July 6, 2017
Somewhere in cyberspace there’s an answer to this question: Why would someone buy four items on eBay, charge them to my personal credit card, and have them sent to my East Hampton Post Office box? It wasn’t me. I really don’t need a great big, cheap, water-resistant man’s watch, thank you very much.

Somewhere in cyberspace there’s an answer to this question: Why would someone buy four items on eBay, charge them to my personal credit card, and have them sent to my East Hampton Post Office box? It wasn’t me. I really don’t need a great big, cheap, water-resistant man’s watch, thank you very much.

It might have been weeks before I noticed something mysterious was going on, but for a phone call from an American Tourister vendor, who rang me up to tell me they needed a street address: The ugly luggage set I’d ordered could not be shipped to a post office box. 

A three-piece set of shiny black hard-side rolling cases? No, not mine.

Jack Graves
July 6, 2017
“God, look at all the fireflies — I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many. But I haven’t seen many bees. We must call Larry.”

“God, look at all the fireflies — I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many. But I haven’t seen many bees. We must call Larry.”

“Are those things roaches?”

“No, no, roaches don’t fly.”

“We better call Larry.”

“He said, by the way, that the best nature walk he’d ever been on, in all of his 81 years, was in Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor.”

“Are you sure those aren’t roaches?”

“Don’t be so jumpy. The night is tender, and the fireflies are beautiful.”

“Roaches multiply like crazy.”

“Roaches don’t fly. . . . Where are you going?”

“To call Larry.”

David E. Rattray
July 6, 2017
It wasn’t me who pulled the biggest porgy to ever come over Zygote’s gunnels out of the water. I was fishing off Fireplace with my friend Eric Firestone early on the Fourth of July, and it was he who hooked the relative monster.

It wasn’t me who pulled the biggest porgy to ever come over Zygote’s gunnels out of the water. I was fishing off Fireplace with my friend Eric Firestone early on the Fourth of July, and it was he who hooked the relative monster.

Eric seemed to have the magic touch that morning. The bigger fish all tended to come to his bait, though perhaps the mojo wasn’t his alone; the rod he used was one another friend had given me following her father’s death. “Did I want some fishing stuff?” she had asked. It was quite a haul.

Helen S. Rattray
June 29, 2017
It had been such a long time since I was on a chartered bus with a pack of friends, or travelers with common interests, that I was surprised when it turned out to be fun. The bus was taking some 40 of us back to the South Fork Saturday night after a concert at St. Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan, where we joined the Greenwich Village Chamber Singers in a performance of the Brahms Requiem.

It had been such a long time since I was on a chartered bus with a pack of friends, or travelers with common interests, that I was surprised when it turned out to be fun. The bus was taking some 40 of us back to the South Fork Saturday night after a concert at St. Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan, where we joined the Greenwich Village Chamber Singers in a performance of the Brahms Requiem. (You may want to get tickets for the Brahms Requiem concert — with the Choral Society of the Hamptons, the G.V.C.S., and a 38-piece orchestra — on July 8 at the Parish Hall of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church.)

Jack Graves
June 29, 2017
Well, I can cross “Ulysses” off the bucket list, butgeeitwasawfullylong. Much of it is funny, though, and Molly Bloom’s 10,000-plus-word sentence at the end is wonderful.

Well, I can cross “Ulysses” off the bucket list, butgeeitwasawfullylong. Much of it is funny, though, and Molly Bloom’s 10,000-plus-word sentence at the end is wonderful. 

I read the last part to Mary my mountain flower yes and she said yes yes Bub I will Yes.

Now back to Jung (who didn’t think women thought, by the way) and to Joseph Campbell’s “Goddesses.” 

Is it that I’ve been fixed, or do we just end up that way, entwined with one another, differentiated in obvious ways, but not really, more or less one. 

I remember her mother exclaiming, with some incredulity, but with some delight too, that we still talked. Well, of course. Is that not intercourse too?