Follow me on Instagram @caramia447 where I post quirky one-off images of, among other things, tiny houses, retro storefronts, street art and the occasional sunset
I’M BACK IN EAST HAMPTON for my ninth season and I don’t even care that it’s raining for the third straight day. I’m just glad to be here.
My show-stopping 15-foot-tall rhododendrons have already faded and are rapidly falling apart. Hours of tedious petal clean-up and deadheading await. Is it worth it, in exchange for the week or two of blossom explosion my friend characterized as “like an LSD trip”? You bet.
The irises, too, are having their moment. It takes time, I’m learning, for irises to come into their own after planting, maybe three years. It’s a bumper crop and here I am, just taking them for granted.
The garden has a thick new blanket of mulch, whose spreading I hired out this year, leaving me to wander my tidy-looking half-acre with an odd, displaced feeling of nothing to do.
I’m here for just a few weeks, determined to make the most of June before renters arrive July 1 and stay through Labor Day.
May was cold in my unheated house, so fires in the fireplace, sweaters and scarves were the order of the day, and hot water bottles the order of the night.
Below, the golden hour: May at Maidstone Beach
Memorial Day weekend brought friends to my deck for the first al fresco meal of the season, the traditional (round these parts) salad Niçoise, free-flowing rosé and a fire in the fire pit.
A week into June and the house is still 54 degrees, fire crackling away, space heater turned up full blast, soup on the stove.
Arriving last Saturday evening, after a couple of days attending to business in the city, I couldn’t waste time in transition. I dropped my bags and ran down to the beach to catch the sunset, not knowing these were the last rays to be had for at least 72 hours.
It was close to a religious experience — fat clouds limned in gold against postcard blue, the bay shimmering, seagulls bobbing, sand glinting, horizon satisfyingly distant but not so far off as to be intimidating, evening air soft on my face. I picked up shells and driftwood and a gull feather and walked along the water as darkness fell, smiling goofily at people with dogs and fishing poles.
I’m grateful to be out of the city, to be where nature can work its magic on my mood.
And now I can say it, loud and proud: I love East Hampton. Nine years ago, when I first moved here, I was embarrassed to tell people I had bought a house in “the Hamptons” (albeit the cheapest house on the South Fork).
All I really knew of East Hampton before I bought that first cottage (I’ve since sold it and bought a different house nearby), were snooty, overpriced designer stores and the hassle of finding parking in high season.
Now I cherish the fabulous institutions with which the town is blessed, like the hushed, rambling mock-Tudor library with its Long Island research collection, a room devoted solely to garden books and brand new children’s wing; and Guild Hall, an art museum and theatre, with a circus-striped auditorium featuring ambitious programming all year long,
I’ve discovered exquisite local gardens like LongHouse Reserve and Madoo, and smaller gems like the beautifully tended kitchen garden at Mulford Farm, a cedar-shingled saltbox pre-dating the American Revolution by a long shot. Even the 200 ancient elms that line Main Street are a national treasure (and possibly endangered).
My time here will be truncated, so I’ve got to squeeze it all in: gardening, swimming in the bay, farmer’s markets, picnics at Louse Point, walks on Gerard Drive, sunsets at the jetty, art exhibitions, garden tours, yard sales.
Knowing I’ll soon have to tear myself away makes me appreciate all the more what my Hampton, prettiest of them all, has going for it.