Connections: Promised Land

Paradise found

The landscape at Promised Land, where I settled after marrying an East Hamptoner in 1960 (a time that now seems 100 years ago), was for me akin to another planet. When I was growing up, I had spent summers in rolling farmland, deep woods, and along sandy shores. Promised Land — a flat and colorless expanse with a few indistinct plants that hugged the ground — was foreign territory.

It didn’t take long, though, for my husband and me to buy a four-room house from a friend who had built it at the head of Three Mile Harbor and didn’t live in it. How adventurous it was to have a house moved along the main roads to Promised Land, with an experienced hand sitting on the roof to lift overhead wires out of the way.

We added a few rooms and exulted in the prospect of being a literal stone’s throw from Gardiner’s Bay — paradise found. We knew how lucky we were to take advantage of a bit of land that had been in my mother-in-law’s family for generations, from a time when Edwards seafaring men anchored deep-draft fishing vessels in a particular hole in that very bay.

With the exception of a small yellow house almost out of sight on the dunes to the west and the entrance to a private club’s boat basin, we were pioneers, proud, perhaps, of settling in a remarkable place that others might not even have considered.

In days gone by, there often was a friend paddling by in a kayak. There would be windsurfers on the bay, launching from near the old fish factory dock to the east. Even more likely, water skiers towed by small boats with powerful engines would have been skimming the water. 

For the most part, locals know better than to head “into town,” i.e., the business district, during the busiest times. The story goes that someone “from away” was heard complaining that locals ought not take up space on supermarket lines. Is it apocryphal? Or is it only that those who live here and know the wonders of sea and sky make a very strong point of staying out of common view in high season. Why not wait for quieter times if you can?

I went to the beach at Promised Land on a gorgeous day last weekend for a swim and to luxuriate for a few hours. Paradise, however, was almost exactly as it used to be, perhaps even quieter. With the exception of two walkers who came over the dunes from the small once-yellow house, and a tall-masted sailboat far off in the distance, no one was there. Even a small runabout anchored in the bay off the once-yellow house was idle.