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IT’S SPRING, and I like my life again. Winter is my time for serious worry. With spring come more lighthearted concerns. Instead of How the hell am I going to pay my bills?, it’s Are you supposed to cut above the leaf node or below?
Yes, the Felco has come out of its sheath and, as long as I still own my cottage on the East End of Long Island, I am working it – transplanting things from here to there, raking leaves off the perennial beds, spreading new grass seed in bare spots, feeding the daffodil foliage that’s beginning to poke up. Only just beginning: after our brutal Northeast winter, the season is very slow to start this year. Mid-April already, and the only forsythia blooming is the forsythia I forced in a vase.
With spring comes optimism that I will sell my cottage soon and be able to turn the full force of my attention to the other house I own in the same bayside community. There’s been a price chop on the cottage, to 435K, which immediately attracted a new offer. A pattern is emerging: people (young people, as it happens) fall in love with the house’s considerable charms — really become infatuated with it. Soon fantasy turns to the reality of all that’s involved in owning and maintaining a house. It’s a big decision, and some become convinced (in one case by a father/financier who was “not feeling the vintage thing”) that some other house, a house built more recently than c.1940, would be easier.
Maybe so, maybe not, but this time I’ll keep my own excitement in check until a contract is signed. Meanwhile, I’m thoroughly enjoying staying in the cottage — recently redecorated with thrift shop furniture and exceedingly bright and pleasant — and country life in general. Sitting on the deck on a warm day. Walking down to the bay at sunset. Morning yoga at the Springs Presbyterian Church, a meadow view behind the window panes. A multigrain fruit and nut muffin from the Springs General Store. It’s the simple things, said a friend, and that’s my motto of the moment.
I moved three miscanthus – tall ornamental grasses – from the backyard up to the front of the property to screen the parking court, since the ilex I chose not to wrap in burlap last fall has been nibbled bare, rendered useless as screening, by the resident deer. As I tucked the grasses into their new spots, I talked to them. Don’t they say plants respond to our conversation, or perhaps just to the carbon dioxide we exhale as we lean over them, blabbing away?
“Now you guys have about 30 days before the maple leafs out, so take advantage of the sun now and do all the growing you can,” I told them. “Okay? Okay. Conditions may not be ideal, but you’re gonna be just fine.” I reassured them and myself at the same time.
BUYING PROPERTY IN WINTER takes a lot of creative visualization. It’s hard to imagine lush greenery and abundant flowers when the ground is covered with snow, or plants are fifty shades of brown.
View at rear of property into Town-owned, undeveloped woods, which seems to extend the backyard forever
That’s why I’m populating this blog post with inspiring springtime images — they inspire me, anyway, and hopefully, prospective buyers will feel the same — showing how things will look as the season progresses at my c.1940, cedar-shingled 2BR Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) cottage.
The house is still on the market. I rejected a few lowball offers and had two near-deals fall through. I’m tired of riding the roller coaster, and hoping the winter of my real-estate discontent is made glorious summer (apologies to William Shakespeare) by a reasonable offer from mortgage-worthy applicants.
The official Corcoran listing is here. For photos of the interior, the deck, the outdoor shower, and more nitty-gritty info, like taxes (low!), go here. And feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Meanwhile, please scroll down to see what things will look like as the world renews itself in months to come.
Magnolia, spring bulbs, sweet william, golden spirea
Gravel path from front of property to rear, lined with perennial beds (i.e. all this comes back, bigger and better from year to year).
Same path, looking back to front in early morning. Forsythia in bloom in background, boxwoods and Alberta spruce along property line at right.
Another view of main perennial bed, with lamium, perennial geranium, ferns, barberry, hakonechloa, iris, Alberta spruce and more
Found driftwood in a bed of lily-of-the-valley
Fragrant olive and other flowering shrubs at front of property
Euphorbia, above, with Korean box and golden spirea
Doublefile viburnum, 10 feet across
Below, a few photos showing what’s to come a little later on in the season.
Perennial geraniums and irises in flower…
Elephant ears (these are annuals) with Korean box, hakonechloa, Japanese painted fern
Accabonac Harbor in Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.)
Maidstone Beach, the never, ever crowded miles-long crescent of white sand a few hundred yards from the house. The bay is so relaxing — kinder and gentler than the ocean’s pounding surf — perfect for swimming and safer, especially with kids.
WHO’S READY TO THINK ABOUT SUMMER? Everyone in the snowy Northeast, I imagine. Hard to believe at the moment, but summer will come, and with it the desire to be near water. I have just the house for you to rent: my utterly secluded 1940s 1,200-square-foot home, a five-minute walk from the beautiful Gardiner’s Bay beach, above, that is one of the Hamptons’ last and best-kept secrets.
June and July are spoken for, but August is available ($7,000). It’s a unique house for the right people — people who dig its arty, Bohemian vibe and don’t require air conditioning or a dishwasher. This is a house that recalls Jackson Pollock’s postwar heyday, when Springs, a hamlet five miles north of the chic village of East Hampton, N.Y., was home to a slew of well-known artists associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement.
Pollock’s own home, now the Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner Study Center, is a mile away in the Springs Historic District. So is the Springs General Store, a throwback to hippie days that pretty much encapsulates what laid-back Springs is all about. The area is still home to many artists, writers and actors, some famous.
This is a house in a state of pre-renovation, and my price reflects that. There’s a fully functioning (in fact, brand new) kitchen and bath. The house is clean and organized and (will soon be) fully furnished. But I just bought it a year ago, and many planned projects — a new deck, an outdoor shower, a second bathroom among them (not to mention a swimming pool) — have not yet happened.
At present there are two bedrooms, but also, for all intents and purposes, two living rooms; there’s the potential to sleep 6 or more. There’s also an outbuilding which will be converted as a separate studio by summer.
Great room, furniture yet to come.
Dining/sitting room with working fireplace
View to kitchen from dining/sitting room
One of two bedrooms, with double bed + single (there’s a second bedroom as well)
Imagine swimming every day (more than once a day!) right at the end of the block; kayaking and paddleboarding from any number of local launch points; bonfires on the beach (legal); grilling on the brick patio; visiting restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, historic houses, and ocean beaches in nearby East Hampton and Amagansett (10 minutes away) and Montauk (25 mins.), and spending time in the uber-charming town of Sag Harbor (20 mins.).
Above: Part of Maidstone Park’s two-mile loop for walking/jogging alongside the bay, an inlet leading to Three Mile Harbor, and a nature preserve. All a few minutes’ walk from the house.
For more info, contact me at email@example.com. To see my craigslist ad, go here.
Late summer sunset over Gardiner’s Bay
NEW YEARS BARGAINS ABOUND on the East End of Long Island, though how much of a bargain this 1/4-acre property in Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) really is remains to be seen. The house may well be a teardown; the “barn-like accessory structure” looks sound, though, and no smaller than the house itself.
The main selling point here is waterfront proximity (though not water view) — it’s just a couple hundred yards to an unspoiled channel off Three Mile Harbor, top, and there’s a small beach at the foot of Folkstone Drive.
The house is on a gravel road, pitted and puddled after recent rains, but you can’t complain about traffic.
Above, the c. 1945 house at right and the newer garage/barn at left.
The door to the house was open, and I walked in. Definite smell of damp. There’s almost certainly been water damage.
It’s a project for the right person/people. I like the idea that you could live in the (unheated) barn while fixing up the house or building a new one. (The barn was locked, so i didn’t see inside, but there are photos of its interior in the linked-to Halstead listing below.) I also like that it’s cheap — down to 300K, and will probably end up selling for even less.
For photos of the house in summer and more shots of the barn (and a startling demonstration of what a sunny day and a wide-angle lens will do for a place), go here for the official listing.
THE AD IN THE EAST HAMPTON STAR says “capacity for 7,500 sq. ft. house, tennis, horses.” Phooey on that. I see a good old-fashioned Long Island truck farm on the cleared, sunny acre+ behind this 1880s farmhouse. Organic, of course. Or maybe a field of flowers.
There’s good news and bad news. The farmhouse is close to Springs Fireplace Road, where traffic is incessant. That’s true of historic houses in general. In the old days, when only horse carts passed by on unpaved roads, traffic noise wasn’t a problem. Anyway, that’s reflected in the reasonable price. Also, it’s conceivable that the house could be moved back on the lot, away from the road. And it’s not bad news if you want to have a farmstand to sell your produce and flowers!
The good news is behind the house: the huge, open property, surrounded by trees and very private, with a rural feeling that’s hard to come by these days. There’s a 1,200 square foot barn plus a 400 square foot workshop, all of which offer rental possibilities.
The house itself, with 4 bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths is presently rented out. I didn’t see the inside, but it’s said (by a friend who knows the place) to be attractive and in good condition.
It’s for sale by owner. For more info: 631-987-8366.