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Sixty-Something: Why You Should "Stop And Smell The Roses" In The Hamptons

T.J. Clemente

Michael McDowell's Scuttle Hole Road is in the author's art collection. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

With so much uncertainty fluttering around annoyingly, it's time to look to the certainty. What is a certain is that the East End of Long Island is very beautiful. I can remember my amazement the first time I did the long drive from Pelham, N.Y. to the Hamptons alone as a teenager with my dad's car back in 1969, the summer of Woodstock. I must admit the first windmill I ever saw in person was driving past the Corwith Gristmill on Route 27 in Water Mill. Back then, I remember when I slowed down to look at it, a car honked the horn behind me.

I was out exploring with my new Junior New York State Driver's License. At 17 you weren't allowed to drive in NYC, but driving on Long Island was allowed - just not after dark!

Back in those days, the traffic backed up on 27E at Hampton Bays almost always. I remember writing the story about expanding Route 27 to almost six lanes back in 2006/2007. Many people don't remember how bad that bottleneck used to be!

That first time I didn't know the back roads, the beach roads, the farm roads that I practically only drive these days. To get a chance to write, I took a job delivering the leading free weekly paper of the Hamptons. Through that delivery job, I received my chance to write, however, also from that delivery job I learned the back roads of the Hamptons.

Accompanying this article is a painting by Michael McDowell titled Scuttle Hole Road. It is a barn most people believe they can identify, but in fact, it never existed - just in this painting. Others look like it, yet this painting personifies why I drive the back roads to see sights like this barn, that if I could paint, I would paint them.

The plushness of a Hamptons summer is now surrendering to the seasonal change into fall. Leaves are changing color and falling from trees with every breeze. The once warm summer ocean breeze has a whipping chill that makes you wear a fleece or sweatshirt over your favorite summer t-shirt. Yet, the views are still unyielding with their majesty, ageless powers, and historic tone. Who isn't tempted to stop their car and take out their phone camera and take a photo or two on almost every drive on every day? Living and being in the Hamptons is like living and being in the photos of a free bank calendar.

To add to my huge appreciation of the East End beauty, I get to sail in the bays. While sailing I get the opportunity to see the secluded beaches, the menacing eroding bluffs, the harbors and quite frankly some amazing homes built along the shores. It was not my lot in life to own one of those trophy homes, but in many cases I see the homes more than most owners do. Many people are too busy to see and appreciate what they own and where they own it. I remember once interviewing someone about a charity when he admitted he only spends a month at his multi-million dollar home due to business, but then he said this: "I commissioned a well known landscape artist from Park Avenue to paint my Hamptons home. He did a masterful job. That painting hangs in my office. I look at it many times a day and when I do, I hear the ocean breeze, I remember the scents of the flowers planted all over my grounds, I can taste that fresh East End air." That's why when I sail, I appreciate being in the now and where I am.

I always like to tell my local friends that they were born and have been living their lives in a place where billionaires buy million dollar homes, but only get to spend 30 - 40 days a year in them. They get to be in the Hamptons every day of every year.

Added: October 5, 2020, 2:31 pm
Appeared In: community >> sixty-something