Season’s End on the East End

IMG_4968I’VE CLOSED UP SHOP in East Hampton for the winter. Had to. My house has no heat, and the nighttime temperatures have dipped into the 40s and even 30s. Yes, I have a fireplace, a space heater, down comforters and cashmere sweaters and fuzzy slippers. But all that can only take a body so far. So I’m back in my Brooklyn brownstone apartment for the duration, having come to terms with the fact that my Long Island house is a five-month-a-year proposition (though I pay the mortgage twelve).

Below: New late-season planting areas


The beginnings of a pinetum (conifer collection), above.


A new experimental bed filled with odds and ends I don’t know what else to do with, above.


Raised beds now containing about 300 bulbs (allium, Queen of the Night tulips, Pheasant’s Eye daffs), above. A flower farm: something to look forward to come May, for sure.

I tore myself away, as always, with regret. Planting bulbs, walking along the beach, gazing at sunsets (below, from the jetty at Maidstone Park), watching the autumn colors come on day by day — those things sustain me in a way traipsing along city sidewalks does not.




Moving forward, from afar, on two major projects this winter: the installation of 11 new windows, and the demolition of a storage room and two closets at one end of the great room, below, to create an unimpeded open space, about 400 square feet, that will eventually become a (heated, insulated — though not this year) “winter studio.” Don’t you love the sound of that? I do.


My last week at the house was spent packing, weeding, winnowing. There’s no end to it. Two IKEA bags full of books off to the LVIS thrift shop. Three more cartons of random items into the shed, marked ‘Yard Sale.’ As hard as I try, as much I pare down, stuff just… accumulates. OK, I confess: I went to a couple of yard sales on my last morning.


Off to the shed with ye… or the “rubber room,” above, passed along to me by my friend Diana.


End of season yard-sale find, above. How could I pass those up? 

Close the skylights. Close the fireplace flues. Strip the beds. One last laundry. Clean out the refrigerator. Roll up the rugs. Push the furniture away from the back wall and cover it with drop cloths, for protection during demo and construction. Dump the annuals.


Wait — scratch that last item: “Dump the annuals.”  I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The coleus and Swedish ivy and other plants in my deck containers continued to thrive. I didn’t have the heart to dump them (though the clay pots they’re in will break over the winter if I don’t). But I’ll wait until the cold does them in, then do the deed on one of my upcoming quick visits ‘just to check on things.’



A stay of execution for the container plants, above.

So it’s last call. Shutting down the joint. Bartender’s gonna throw me out. Pack the car. Unplug the modem. Look around one more time. Go room to room, say goodbye. Around the garden. A few more iPhone pix. Peer into the shed. Why must the day I leave have to be so beautiful?


Maidstone Park,  above.

12 thoughts on “Season’s End on the East End

  1. I love Maidstone, but the cold is alas also causing me to flee … The dishes are lovely and I wouldn’t have passed them up either (and am regrettably leaving the Quimper dishes I got at my neighbor’s yard sale as there isn’t room for them in my Queens apartment). Now to get the plumbing attended to, clean the refrigerator, and return my books to the Springs library … Thanks for posting these wonderful pictures of the sunsets over Gardiner’s Bay. My father used to say that walking down the hill to the beach at sunset was like walking into eternity — true, that, as your pix show so well … Here’s to the pleasures of the city, made all the sweeter by the knowledge that there will be your own patch of Eden to return to in the spring …

  2. You have already wrought many little miracles at your abode. It just continues to unfold.
    Justine’s father is so right….

  3. What a great place. It will even be better when you have heat. You won’t want to go back to the city then. End of season always sad. Time flies.

  4. God you are making me want to run (not walk) to Shelter Island soon…gonna go up and check on my house in a couple weeks….cant wait to take it back next spring. Thanks for this great post. xoxo Jessie PS- PLEASE come up to my house and sit in front of our fireplace!!

  5. great post thanks for the updates and the refreshing memories of closing the house. Seems like we went through a lot of that closing up process every time we left back in the summer of 1975.

  6. Love the plates! Maybe you can find the rest of the set on ebay — Can’t wait to see the changes come spring that you’ve detailed — and prepared for — so beautifully

  7. Good to hear from all of you! Really appreciate the kind comments, the memories, the invitations… and even (Priscilla’s link) the music. For those who may be afraid to click on such a long, strange looking link, it’s Mel Torme singing “Autumn in New York,” with a whole lead-in section I’d never heard, and a reference that definitely resonates to “the city I hate and adore.”

  8. This post brought back so many memories of my parents closing our lake bungalow every Labor Day weekend. As another said, “bittersweet.” But the blooming bulbs will welcome you back come spring. Hope we can catch up sometime soon in Brooklyn. Your place is looking great.

  9. I left some coleus out on my deck last year. I just cut them back and hoped the pots would not break. Lo and behold, they came back this spring, big and beautiful. So maybe there is hope for your annuals!

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