As I write this, we’re in between threatened thunderstorms (nothing compared to the folks anxiously watching Hurricane Irma’s path through the Caribbean), but the weather report shows the skies clearing and we’re on tap for a glorious weekend. And that’s good because there’s a lot on tap over this weekend!
It’s mid October and we’re in full pumpkin season. The farms have Pick Your Own apples and pears, corn mazes and an abundant harvest of winter squashes, cabbage, kale, homemade jams and pies and so much more. We even have a new term, Pumpkin Traffic, which describes the stop-and-go that unsuspecting east-bound drivers passing through Water Mill encounter due to the wild popularity of Hank’s PumpkinTown, which is located directly across the street from Duckwalk Winery. (If you’re not packing children intent on visiting the wonderful playground at Hank’s, ask us for the secret detour around this traffic jam.)
Anyway, with a little sadness, but also a sense of anticipation for sweaters, scarves, and boots (!), the rack on the back deck that during the summer held beach chairs got filled today with wood for the fireplace. The days are still lovely, with clear blue skies, no humidity, and a tighter range of temps between high and low (today, for example, the high was 62 degrees F, the low 54). Still, I expect the fireplace will inaugurate Late Fall at the Manor this weekend, with blazing logs crackling a cheery welcome to guests returning from their days in the cooler air.
Fall gives me the opportunity to cook with all things associated with autumn, like fresh apples and pears from the farms, cranberries, pumpkin and lots of cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg and ginger…Something I consider the epitome of autumn is a recipe I adapted after finding it first on the Weight Watchers website and since have seen all over Pinterest. I made it this week and four guests asked for the recipe. It’s so unbelievably easy, and it’s worth a share:
TWO INGREDIENT PUMPKIN CAKE
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Spice Cake
1 can (14 oz) Libby’s Pumpkin
Yep, that’s it, just those two ingredients. Don’t add anything the cake box tells you to. Mix together, by hand or using a mixer until it comes together into a stiff batter. Spread into a greased 7″x 11″ x 2″ Pyrex pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven. Cool in the pan 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile make the glaze. (Ah, I cheated! I added a couple more ingredients!): Whisk together:
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or approx. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus a dash each of ground nutmeg. ground ginger, ground mace, ground cloves, and allspice)
3 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider
Invert slightly cooled cake unto a serving platter. Pour glaze all over the top. Cut into 24 pieces.
This is major-league yummy! (And for the Weight Watchers among us, it’s 4 PP per piece. Worth it.)
Get your scarf and boots on, and come visit a corn maze followed by a wine tasting, while you watch the vineyards harvesting their bounty for coming years. I wish you a slice of Pumpkin Cake before a roaring fire!
Quote of the day: I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.—Henry David Thoreau
|Crowds on the beach are gone!|
the kitchen at 11:05 to say she would be checking out late, after she’d had her
run and a shower. I assured her that we had downstairs facilities for her to
shower and change, but she needed to have her bags out of her room at our standard 11:00
AM check out time because we needed to clean it for arriving guests.
visitors that somehow the Hamptons roll up like a yoga mat, put away until next
Memorial Day. That the oceans somehow turn arctic cold on Tumbleweed Tuesday,
and that all the shops and restaurants close and move to their winter locations
in West Palm Beach.
autumn, the Hamptons become an entirely different type of destination. Summer
lingers on through September with temperate weather and still-warm oceans and
bays. And correspondingly, different types of visitors come to appreciate our
unique beauty and charm.
the Hamptons – farming – revs its motor as the leaves begin to turn colors.
While summer guests appreciate our farm stands, it is fall where they really
shine as the harvest gets underway. Corn, zucchini, sun-ripened tomatoes,
potatoes, greens, squash and much more overflow their bushel baskets. And
speaking of squash, beginning mid-September, nothing can beat our East End
farms for agritourism. Pumpkin picking? Bring the family and grab a red wagon and
spend hours at Hank’s Pumpkintown…the kids enjoying the slides and forts and
climb-aboard tractors before picking out the perfect enormous pumpkin in the
field. Or opt for an elegant cream or sage-colored pumpkin from the flatbed
parked at the Milk Pail, where you can choose to do your picking from one of the Halsey family’s twenty different varieties of apples in the adjacent orchard and pick up
a container of the freshest local apple cider available. You don’t have to be a
kid to enjoy a corn maze, and one of the best is to be found on Horsemill Road at Fairview Farm, where the “maize” (a pun on Indian corn) is carefully cut each year into a
design that, viewed from the air, is a work of art. Choose from almost a dozen
different trivia categories to help you navigate the maize. Questions are
multiple choice; your answer will determine whether you should turn right or
left when faced with such an intersection.
often benefit from a bike ride is a perfect outdoor choice. And with beach
traffic nonexistent, a perfect cycling excursion might be to wend your way through the
estate districts where wide, tree-lined streets are almost empty of drivers. Rent
a boat from Strong’s Marine and spend a day exploring Peconic or Shinnecock
Bay, or hire a kayak and paddle through places like Georgica Pond or Northwest
Creek, where your only company may be the egrets and ospreys. Fall is also the
perfect time to hike Mashomack Preserve, the Nature Conservancy’s vast 2100-acre
property that comprises nearly a third of Shelter Island.
year) and all the East End wineries are in their full glory. Look for wine tasting
events, weekend entertainment in many of the South Fork’s three and the North
Fork’s almost fifty vineyards.
End to paint, and with the fall comes that season of light where you can
completely understand their motivation. The sun, lower on the horizon, casts a
peerless golden glow over our farm fields and dunes. It’s Mother Nature’s
blessing on the East End.
(September 26-28), the Montauk Seafood Festival (September 13-14), Harborfest, the celebration of Sag
Harbor’s whaling history (also September 13-14), and the San Gennaro feast in Hampton Bays (October 4-5). Check out the Arts and Crafts fair in Westhampton Beach (October 11-12), the Fine Art show in Bridgehampton, or the Chili Cookoff in
Hampton Bays.All feature events and activities for the entire family.
shops. Parking is easier, and so is traffic, compared to steamy August
summer heyday or never before, the season of plenty is a wonderful time to visit!
First day of Autumn — hooray!! Not that the weather necessarily tells the story. Four of our guests are at the beach today, and temperatures are expected to be in the upper 70’s. Though that it slated to change tomorrow, with slightly cooler temps scheduled for the rest of the week.
A little chill in the early morning air? Dark skies at 5:30 AM? Pink clouds as the sun comes up? I love it. I love fall, and all the trappings…and I love the sense of calm that pervades the Hamptons as Fall settles in. Gone is the frenetic summer crowd, desperate to pack every second of fun into their weekend, worried about whether the party is starting somewhere without them. It is so much easier to relax when you appreciate that the hours when you can wear shorts are more limited. I’ve decorated the mantle for fall; I’ll add pumpkins in October. I just can’t let Halloween encroach on fall just yet…
And there is still so much to do. Up next weekend, Sept 28 & 29, is SEPTEMBERFEST, a celebration of arts and music and history and food in Southampton Village, beginning with a kickoff party on Friday night featuring the band New Life Crisis. Beginning at 10 AM on Saturday, there will be street musicians at various spots on Main Street, Job’s Lane, and Agawam Park, Taste of the Hamptons and a chowder contest in the park, a farmer’s market on the grounds of the Parrish Art Museum, arts and crafts activities, historical demonstrations, hayrides, rides in Wells Fargo’s iconic stagecoach, concerts, art shows, and much more. The village will be HOPPING! Come visit and enjoy it!
Actually, the Parrish Art Museum has vacated the property on Job’s Lane, and will celebrate its grand opening in its brand new quarters in Water Mill the weekend of November 11. Owned by the village, the grand old building that housed the art museum for over 110 years will continue to be a cultural hub for Southampton. And speaking of new tenants, the old Rogers Memorial Library was sold late this summer. It’s rumored that, following restorations to the historic Queen Anne structure, it will reopen possibly as retail space. And, drum roll….Pottery Barn has signed a lease on the grand corner building on Main Street and Hampton Road that housed Saks Fifth Avenue for 60 years. It will be great to have the beautiful building that anchors the village occupied once more!
We’ve had some fun shops come to town this year, and with a little more room to breathe this week, I wandered downtown to check them out. There’s a decided British note in the air in Southampton with shops such as Jack Wills and Grahame Fowler joining Ralph Lauren downtown. (Me, being an Anglophile, very much likes this, of course.) It looks like Ralph’s current line is very equestrian, always a great look, but for the real deal, look for your barn coat at Horse Haven on Hampton Road. And of course, there’s lots of end-of-season sale action happening.
September is definitely the best time to be in the Hamptons!
November, and things are slowing down. Chris and I actually had a day off a week or so ago. It was a gorgeous autumn day and we decided to do a little sightseeing in our own backyard, for the dual purpose of enjoying ourselves outdoors and to be better able to advise our guests. In the nearly twenty years that we’ve lived on the East End, we’ve never been hiking at any of the three most popular locations out here, namely Mashomack, Hidden Hills, or the Elizabeth Morton Wildlike Refuge. We decided to start our exploration with Mashomack, just across the bay on Shelter Island.
The Mashomack Preserve, operated by the Nature Conservancy, occupies nearly 1/3 of Shelter Island, and is open year round. We went on a Wednesday in November, so I’m sure there were far fewer people on the trails than one would meet if hiking in July; however, such was the serene nature of the place and the layout of the trails that I expect there could be hundreds of fellow hikers in the preserve and you wouldn’t know it.
There are four well-defined and marked trails of varying lengths, from a one-mile wheelchair-accessible trail to a ten-mile hike that overlooks Gardiner’s Bay. Chris and I chose the six-mile Green Trail, marked by the emblem of the osprey. The osprey is one of the East End’s most celebrated examples of the power of environmental concern: the breeding population, once decimated by the thinning of their eggs caused by widespread use of DDT, has rebounded from 150 breeding pairs in 1969 to well over 230 pairs today, taking the breed from the Endangered list to that of Special Concern. Osprey nests are visible along many coastal wetlands, but Mashomack is home to one the largest concentration of nesting ospreys in the area. The nests are remarkable as they resemble chimney-sweep brushes of the sort you remember from the movie Mary Poppins; birds create large nests in the tops of dead trees or, more commonly, on human-created upright structures resembling telephone poles.
The ospreys have flown south for the winter now, but lots of birds and other wildlife remain to be seen on the trails. One of the more remarkable sights we saw was a red-tailed hawk eating his lunch on a trail-side post in an open field.
Fields, wetlands, coves seeded with oyster and scallop beds, pine swamps…the variety of ecosystems within such a relatively small area was incredible.
In addition to being a wonderful place to breathe and appreciate nature, the Nature Conservancy has on-site a charming visitors center with interactive displays on all aspects of the flora and fauna. We spent quite a bit of time there, playing with the displays and discussing what we’d seen with the very knowledgable and friendly Nature Conservancy staff member.
The entire East End is a respite from busy city and suburban living, and we realize how very lucky we are to live and work in such a beautiful corner of the world. Even so, as we drove away late in the afternoon, bound for the South Ferry back to A Butler’s Manor, Chris commented that our afternoon walk in the woods truly felt like we’d been on vacation!
Quote of the Day: We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down. ~Robert Sweetgall
Yesterday was Halloween, and in the village of Southampton, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors an annual “Ragamuffin Parade” of little (and not so little!) children in costume, followed by a Pumpkin Trail of local merchants who hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters. In recent years, the event has been joined by a doggie costume parade sponsored by Little Lucy’s on Job’s Lane, a boutique that features the wardrobe of clothing, costumes, and jewelry your favorite pooch never knew she wanted. Not being parents, Chris and I haven’t attended the event before, but our neighbors Lynn and Gary’s 14-month-old twin girls were planning on participating, along with their two king Charles Cavallier spaniels, so we had to see them in action! Little Pearse and the Blenheim (reddish) dog were bumblebees, while Gigi and their King Charles (black and tan) dog were ladybugs. Are they cute, or what?
The dog gave it up after 50 yards, and, satisfied, trotted back down his driveway.
A couple houses farther on, I turned the corner just in time to see the dog trotting out into the street ahead, looking as though he were on patrol. He’d apparently cut through his backyard and those of a couple of other occupants. Then I heard a whistle, and he turned around and disappeared down a side street. I passed the dog and his owner a couple of minutes later, where she was petting and probably trying to distract him from continuing his search.
A few seconds later, I came to the ancient Southampton cemetary (first burial, 1648). There, shielded by the surrounding hedges, stood the deer. I laughed. For all the world, it seemed like dog and deer were playing a game of hide and seek. I snapped the photo here just as she turned tail to trot away, game over.
Speaking of running like the wind, the Hamptons Marathon is happening this morning as I write. The weather couldn’t be better for the runners — the persistent humidity and rain we’ve put up with for three days dissipated overnight, leaving clear skies and temps in the low 60’s. As we have among our guests three competitors and three spectators, breakfast was a pretty small affair. I’ll look forward to refilling their weary bodies tomorrow with a nutritious protein and veggie entree (and special after-26-miles-I-deserve-it muffins).
Also happening this weekend and next is the Arts Harvest Southampton, a collaborative affair encompassing the visual, performing, and culinary arts. Southampton Village closes down part of Main Street each weekend to accommodate a bandstand for the live music performed all afternoon, the shops have sidewalk sales to peruse, folks are enjoying the action from outside tables in front of the restaurants. Tonight there is a live art auction of works by local artists, and a farm-to-table dinner, held on a long series of picnic tables in Agawam Park overlooking the pond.
And there you have it, the Summer of 2010, which came in with a shout: the best weather over Memorial Day (sunny and hot!) and exited with a whimper called Hurricane Earl on Labor Day. Except that Earl was a no-show, tiptoeing by 200 miles offshore on Friday night with only a little rain and wind in his backpack. It was, however, enough to spook many visitors to the area who would’ve otherwise made the holiday the last hurrah of the season. Pity, too, as the sun was back in full force on Saturday, and it was a spectacular day for the Grand Prix event on Sunday at the Hampton Classic.
Still, it was a nice weekend and guests enjoyed themselves, and the day after Labor Day it was immediately Autumn in the Hamptons…clear, sunny days in the low 70’s, with temps dropping in the evenings. The minute that sun drops behind the dune, you need your hoodie!
Chris and I had a chance to enjoy a picnic on the beach the other evening after all the guests had checked in, savouring an East Coast sunset (above) with our wine and smoked salmon. (How much better does Life get!?!) But the signs of the encroaching Fall are already upon us…I saw my first horse chestnut on Labor Day weekend, a chevron of Canadian geese honking their noisy way toward the south on Tuesday, and we’re all donning jackets to enjoy live entertainment on the deck at Tiderunners or at the North Fork vineyards, as we had a chance to experience again this past Sunday.
Caroline Doctorow (yes, THAT Doctorow, daughter of E.L., author of such classics as Ragtime) is a talented folk/blues musican who lives out here on the East End. On Sunday, she was the featured performer at Peconic Bay Vineyards, one of the North Fork wineries who we enjoy and recommend to guests interested in spending a lovely weekend afternoon listening to live entertainment on the peaceful grounds of a working vineyard. We like Peconic Bay’s La Barrique Chardonnay, which reminds me of California’s Napa Valley chards, and Chris of France’s Chassagne Montrachet. We met friends for a early dinner at the Frisky Oyster in Greenport, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a rare chance that we can get away as far as the North Fork until the off-season, and a great chance to be able to initiate or renew our acquaintance with locations old and new, so that we can better share them with our guests.
It is a marvelous time to come visit. The frayed tempers and traffic common in July and August have gone, the air is clear and the light beautiful, and all is far more calm and peaceful. Enjoy it with us!
Quote of the Day: Happiness is a wine of the rarest vintage, and seems insipid to a vulgar taste. –Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld