Autumn Pleasures: A Favorite Time of Year in the Hamptons

So autumn comes to the Hamptons and the play is over, the actors gone, the producers and directors and stage managers gone, the paparazzi and hangers on gone, the well-to-do entitled to everything, gone, the helicopters, the corporate jets, the limousines, the European fashion models, gone. They’re all gone, back to the city. But wait a minute, they’ve left the scenery.

It’s beautiful scenery. It’s everything. It’s the magnificent gardens and lawns, the stunning flowers and landscaping, the great clipped trees and hedgerows, the great arching canopies of giant oaks and elms over our main streets, our windmills. There are butterflies, rabbits, swans, ducks, squirrels and deer, there are osprey and hawks and bluebirds and plovers. The seals, their mating rituals at an end (as are those of the actors in the play), are at rest, honking and hooting out on their boulders 100 yards or so offshore. The sizzling heat of summer is gone, yet it’s still short-sleeve and bathing suit weather, and the sand is clean and the ocean is at its warmest, so let’s you and I go down to the beach and dive through the surf for a swim. Any beach. There are no longer crowds on them. And without the need for a parking sticker we can go to any of them anywhere.

Yes, the play is over, but the order to take down all this scenery has not yet been given. And so it remains, the bays, the harbors and estuaries, the windmills and ponds and parks and cliffs and rocks, the lawns and hanging planters and street furniture in town all still here.

Did I mention that fish in the ocean have not yet gotten the message that the play has finished its run? Bushels of them, tons of them, are still flocking to the waters off the Hamptons as if it is still high summer, hoping for a look at Steven Spielberg or Christie Brinkley or Billy Joel or Ernest Hemingway or whoever else they hope to flap their fins and gawk at. Their number peaks in the fall in the ocean waters around the Hamptons. Suddenly the blues are running. It’s a phenomenon no one has ever been able to explain.

Yes, it’s you and me, but it’s also the serious sport fishermen, highly focused, roaring in their pickups now through the empty streets of our towns on a mission. They head for the marinas, to pile out of their cars and into their boats to head out to sea to catch their share of all this abundance. God Bless the Fishermen.

The fancy stores, most of them, are still open after Labor Day and into the fall, at least on weekends, hoping to sell just one more blouse for $1,000 or one more pair of $250 sandals or one more $100 floppy hat.

But as I said, it’s just you and me. And the wild-eyed fishermen. Oh, and the surfers.

September is hurricane season. Forget the summer showers and heat waves of July and August. In the autumn, the weather becomes high drama. The surf is up, the sea crashing spectacularly on the sand both before the hurricane arrives and after the hurricane leaves. The wind is high. Surfing this coast in the fall is one of the great joys of the surfer world. Watch them ride the curl. Or go out to Napeague and watch the windsurfers soar. It will be just you and me out there to watch them. That’s all.

Go wherever you want in the autumn. The roads are no longer crowded, there are no longer lines of cars blocking your way, jamming the parking lots, trying to make left turns or making stupid moves as they do when the play is having its summer run. Park right in front of the store you want to go to. Just walk across the sidewalk. There you are.

The harvest begins in earnest on the farms and fields of the Hamptons in the fall. The abundance includes potatoes, new wines, fruits and vegetables and spices. The spring and summer have been for planting and growing. Now it is the time for the heavy lifting of harvest. It all has to go to the markets. So it’s just you and me and the fishermen and the surfers and the farmers.

Drive out to the Shinnecock Canal, the entryway to the Hamptons. There is no gate there. There is nothing that’s closed, nothing that’s barred the way to anyone who might come and partake of this autumn abundance. Look west. As far as the eye can see, there is nothing. There is just road, with only a few cars upon it. They are not coming.

Turn to face the east. The Hamptons quietly awaits, as magnificent and beautiful as it is in high summer, but it is just for you and me. Enjoy it. Enjoy it while you can. Soon the trucks will appear far off down the Sunrise Highway to the west, and in them will be the stagehands and packers, and furniture movers and workmen, on their way to strike the set and bring the grand summer in the Hamptons to a final close.

But that may not be until the very end of September or the middle of October. In the meantime, just you and me and the fishermen, farmers, surfers, merchants, surfcasters and locals can maybe go down to the beach tonight, build a nice big bonfire, make some burgers, toast some marshmallows, pour a few drinks and clink our glasses.

To the season: now ended. To friendship and family and good times. Long may it wave. Hallelujah.

Soon it will be time for Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners and the exchange of presents at Christmas.

After that, it’s over. Finally.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE DAN’S PAPERS HAMPTONS FALL PREVIEW—THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO GO, WHERE TO STAY AND WERE TO PLAY ON THE EAST END THIS FALL!


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