Let Nature Write the Script

An awed hush had taken its place
Nick Zuccotti with a Bull Mahi caught in August near the Ranger wreck on his father’s boat “Shearwater” out of Springs. Andy Zuccotti

“No, really. Take it. I’m giving it to you. I want you to have it,” says Mother Nature.

We agreed during a sail on Rob Rosen’s catamaran on Sunday evening — the soft wind quietly pulling the cat out of Montauk Harbor into Block Island Sound to watch the moon rise — that the bubble of exceptional weather had changed us. We had become accepting.

The summer’s end is nigh, but with no sense of crescendo. An awed hush had taken its place. The tight strings of summer exigency — we gotta have a barbecue, go fishing, drink wine, and watch the damn sunset — were loosened. People had ceased looking Nature’s gift horse in the mouth, on edge to feel her autumn shoe drop.

Even the news that a bull shark, estimated to weigh about 250 pounds, was caught earlier in the day by Peter Hewitt’s small dragger, close to shore between Culloden Point and Gin Beach in Montauk, was met with a less than panicked acceptance.

Sure, why not? We have never seen so many fish. Schools of dolphin pass the beaches of Napeague on their daily hunts, striped tropical species languish in the shade of mooring balls in Lake Montauk where legions of mummichogs, baby bunker, and other prey species take to the air en masse to escape their fate as food.

Bull sharks are not necessarily friendly. They are aggressive eaters and not picky. Bulls haunt shallow, near-shore fresh and saltwaters and are known to travel great distances upstream in rivers, up the Mississippi as far as Illinois, for example. They are known to attack and kill people. Perhaps that dip in the bay you planned for tomorrow’s cool-down is not all that necessary. 

Oh, and the shark was released unharmed. Perhaps a kayak paddle instead in Fort Pond, if you’re not worried about the blue-green algae. Hard for bulls to get into the pond.

A visit to Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk on Monday afternoon found Gary Stephens, a.k.a. Toad, extolling the fluke bite. A 13-pound fluke had been caught, he said, as well as a 135-pound thresher shark “right off Cartright.”

Paul Apostolides reported big bluefish a regular take on the north side of the Montauk Lighthouse, bass on the south side “on poppers, kneedlefish, sand worms, however you want to catch ’em.” Again, the fluke and thresher news was delivered in an uncharacteristic ho-hum.

My God, we’re getting used to this, I thought. It’s like living in Hawaii, where weeks and months of sunny, 75-to-80-degree weather are the norm, where there is usually enough surf to ride, and the fishing is exceptional. No rush to experience Nature’s aloha, rather an unconscious willingness to let her seep into our lives at her own pace, let her write the script.

 “I’m tired,” Harvey Bennett said on Monday after a less-than-crowing announcement that “the first albie” — false albacore — “of the season” had been landed in Cherry Harbor on the west side of Gardiner’s Island. He owns the Tackle Shop in Amagansett and he’s tired, but smiling, I reckon. I’m going out on a limb to prognosticate an excellent run of false albacore and, hopefully, green bonito, the latter among the most delicious fish swimming.

Yes, I know. It can’t last and shouldn’t. But, whatever fall brings will arrive gilded in the sweet afterglow of a summer that has, once again, defined the beauty of this place. I say, “Thank you.”