Recent Stories: Outdoors

Russell Drumm
December 23, 2014

It’s not our seascape, hills and dales,
When I think Montauk, it’s fins and tails.
Not Rita’s mare, or ‘The Affair,’
Not the Light, or stars at night
Not Gosman’s Dock, or Blackfish Rock
Not summer’s sails, nor nor’east gales
What is Montauk?
It’s fins and tails.

Larry Penny
December 18, 2014

Pines and oaks are the most common native trees on Long Island. There are two species of pines, pitch and white, and at least seven species of oaks. Oak trees are long-lived — white oaks such as those on Gardiner’s Island can live to 400 or 500 years, equaling the longevity of white pines, while pitch pines, which George Washington called “ill thriven” on his one trip here, are lucky if they make it to the century mark.

Russell Drumm
December 18, 2014

Of cod, blackfish, black sea bass, winter in Montauk, One Million Years B.C., Christmas, and Susan Sontag:

I was watching a documentary about Susan Sontag the other night, an extraordinary woman very much of her time in the ’60s, a feminist, philosopher, and essayist with what were, and to some still are, radical views. As it happened, I had caught the last half of “One Million Years B.C.” starring Rachel Welch on the Turner Classic Movies channel earlier in the day. It was one of those cold rainy days last week, so perhaps I can be forgiven.

Larry Penny
December 10, 2014

Trees figure prominently in Long Island street and road names, much more so than animals. Why? Perhaps it’s because trees are large in stature and immobile, while animals are smaller and liable to be in one place one day and another the next.

Russell Drumm
December 10, 2014

I want to talk about beaches and why the Town of East Hampton should do everything in its power to purchase the former East Deck Motel property at Ditch Plain in Montauk and turn it into a park.

Russell Drumm
December 3, 2014

“Like butter,” was Dalton Portella’s brief and, given the day, appropriate description of the surf as he watched a set of waves peel across one of Montauk’s moorland coves a week ago.

Larry Penny
December 3, 2014

The Town of East Hampton stretches from the tip of Montauk Point to just west of the town airport, from the bays of the Peconic Estuary on the north to the great Atlantic Ocean on the south. Within those boundaries is a set of habitats, ecotypes, ecotones, and plant associations that set the town apart from the rest of Long Island and make it a unique treasure in terms of the natural world.

Larry Penny
November 26, 2014

It’s turkey day, and many of us across America will be feasting on what Ben Franklin believed should have been our national bird. Bald eagles don’t taste good, but are more elegant and soar high in the sky; turkeys barely get off the ground when flushed. Vegans will forgo the turkey, but some will dine on the traditional trimmings, meatless stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

Larry Penny
November 19, 2014

We all know the names John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and James Audubon. Most us are familiar with the more modern names, Rachael Carson and Erin Brockovich.

Russell Drumm
November 19, 2014

I keep a journal, not as consistently as I should, but enough so that I’ve trained myself to recognize and acknowledge events or experiences that might cause a particular week to stand out thematically.

Larry Penny
November 12, 2014

It’s Monday evening. By the time this column appears in print more than 50 percent of the local leaves will have fallen and a good many trees will be completely bare.

When I went out earlier this week to survey the fall foliage, however, less than a quarter of the leaves were down and only a few road shoulders were completely covered by leaf litter. Why are the leaves falling so late this year? It’s hard to say.

Russell Drumm
November 12, 2014

It’s the smell, finest kind. When I first ventured to the East End in the late 1960s a community existed here that I knew virtually nothing about, yet I recognized them.

This could be because my mother’s side of the family were farmers. As I’ve written here before, my grandfather was an apple grower in Nedrow, N.Y., south of Syracuse. My uncle Scott had a small dairy farm. Uncle Scott was a tall man with bowed legs and so walked with a strange rolling gate.

Larry Penny
November 5, 2014

I would not be here today writing about nature if it weren’t for my mentor, Paul Stoutenburgh. In the mid-1950s when I was a teen growing up next to the potato fields in the Oregon part of Mattituck, my mother turned my attention to a small notice in the Mattituck Watchman-Long Island Traveler. It said that a man named Paul would be showing slides of birds at a local church.

Russell Drumm
November 5, 2014

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

                                           Christina Rossetti

Russell Drumm
October 29, 2014

I admit it. Sunday night after “Homeland,” I watched the third episode of “The Affair,” which, in case you’ve been at sea for a month or so out beyond cable, is a soap opera based in Montauk, a place I have called home for nearly a half century.

The next day, I went downtown to Paulie’s Tackle shop, always an interesting place to be, especially during this, the height of the fall striped bass surfcasting season, a shop that the writers of “The Affair” might have thought to visit.

Larry Penny
October 29, 2014

Out of the mouth of babes come gems . . . to paraphrase a well-based adage about the wisdom of children. Such was the case when Judy Shepard was driving her 4-year-old granddaughter home from preschool in Sag Harbor last fall.

As they passed Otter Pond on their way to Noyac, little Irina asked the name of the pond. When Judy responded, Irina asked, “Are there otters in it?”

“No” came the reply.

Larry Penny
October 22, 2014

Circles and squares, rectangles and cones, triangles and cylinders, octagons, pentagons, spheres and so on. We are surrounded by symmetry, and why not? The earth is spheroid, the moon and the planets are round, and so, it seems from our perspective, is our sun. According to the conjectures of some astronomers and astrophysicists the universe is circular.

Russell Drumm
October 22, 2014

I was returning from a dump run the other day, and for once did so without having plucked some doodad from the freebee table of claptrap, jettisoned painfully or not from a Montauk neighbor’s horde of bric-a-brac — gizmos with wires, romance novels, and a turkey-handled potato peeler that probably hadn’t skinned a spud in years. 

Larry Penny
October 15, 2014

Little Northwest Creek is, indeed, little and in the extreme northwest corner of East Hampton Town. It serves as part of the border between the town and the Village of Sag Harbor. The stream itself is 10 feet at it widest, but the wetlands on either side of it are substantial and in terms of area coverage rival the wetlands on the creek’s much bigger neighbor to the east, Northwest Creek.

Russell Drumm
October 15, 2014

Stephen Lobosco of Sag Harbor, whom many of you will know as the man with an impressive antique fishing lure collection, was coaxed out into the rain by a friend on Saturday morning, a morning that turned into an all-day, arm-wearying, catch-and-release marathon in one of Montauk’s easternmost, south-facing coves.

Russell Drumm
October 8, 2014

Jordan Enck and Tike Albright leaned against the split-rail fence just west of the Montauk Lighthouse on Monday afternoon beside their bikes with fat tires meant for peddling through sand. The bikes were outfitted with PVC tubes, scabbards for surfcasting rods.

Larry Penny
October 8, 2014

Not only are we faced with more and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year, but with global warming resulting from it and acidification of the seas. One might say we are in for calamitous times if we don’t somehow reverse these dangerous headlong trends. But how can we, especially in an age when we are so conscious of our own mortality and want to live life to the fullest? Planes, trains, and automobiles. Coal, oil, and natural gas. Self-indulgence? Yes. The need to survive? Surely.

Larry Penny
October 1, 2014

Call them what you will — aits, isles, atolls, cays, keys, islands, reefs, shoals, even continents — there are millions of them across the globe. The name that I particularly like to describe the smallest of these patches of raised land surrounded by water, very wet marshes, and in some cases even by sand, is hammock, from the Spanish hamaca. We have a lot of them right here in our own backyard.

Russell Drumm