I was standing on Turtle Hill on Sunday about noon in front of the Montauk Lighthouse and beside the Lost at Sea Memorial looking down on eight seals close to shore, some floating on their backs, others with just their heads out of water looking shoreward at the few human visitors.
The scene: Tuesday, Nov. 4, Stuart’s Seafood Market, Amagansett, one day after the start of the 2013 scallop season. A man stands before the store’s display case. A woman, a longtime friend, enters, greets her friend and stands beside him looking into the case.
As the counter clerk approaches, the man begins to ask: “Have you come for . . . ?”
My mother was raised on a farm in Nedrow, N.Y., just south of Syracuse. For many years, she taught what was called home economics — sewing, cooking, the basics — at Division Avenue High School in Levittown, where I grew up. The community was made up mostly of families transplanted from the city.
Surfcasters were arm-weary from casting and tongue-tired from telling tales of Friday’s big wind, big surf, big white water, and big striped bass along the south-facing beaches from Montauk through East Hampton.
Gulls hovered and soared over walls of white water that stormy day. Shiny tins with green tubes were the lures that matched the sand eels that have kept migrating stripers feeding and fat.
There is so much we don’t know about the natural world, which, in many ways, is a good thing. Nothing wrong with a little mystery or sense of wonder.
Take the unusually bright fall colors on the East End this year. I suspect it has to do with the equally unusual absence of a strong northeast storm or brush by a passing hurricane to salt the trees and turn them brown.
“Beam me up,” said Harvey Bennett, owner of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett, although it seemed he was already over the fulsome moon on Monday. Striped bass had been moving his way through the week on their migration from the ocean beach at Hither Hills in Montauk west along Napeague and still farther west to Wainscott and beyond.
I wish I were fluent in Spanish, not only so I could trade tongues in what is now our bilingual community, but so I’d be able to read “Don Quixote de la Mancha” in the original. That aging crusader, just itching for a joust, is Everyman, or at least — it dawned on an observer standing beneath the Montauk Lighthouse looking seaward early Friday morning — Every Fisherman.
Friday morning started out only beautiful. No signs of fish as Capt. Ken Rafferty’s boat left the Montauk Harbor inlet heading west toward Gardiner’s Island. He’d called around, spoken to fellow guides already offshore. “No albies” (false albacore), “no bass” (striped bass).