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Barred owl

By John L. Turner

A great joy from spending time outdoors emersed in nature is the opportunity, afterwards, to share the experience with others. Directly recounting a memorable nature experience with a friend or family member, say, of an osprey successfully plunging from fifty feet high, with talons flaring, to hit the water and seize a fish, or a more gentle scene of watching a pair of monarchs dancing around a buttery yellow blossoms of seaside goldenrod is, of course, the most common way to share.  A more lasting way is through painting a favorite landscape, thereby providing a permanent record of beauty, wonder, and illumination.  And then, there’s the very popular alternative of sharing taken photographs.

Another way to share a memory is with the pen or keyboard and that’s where my favorite way to memorialize a nature experience comes into play: writing a haiku about it. A haiku is a short poem typically structured to have three lines with the first and last lines containing five syllables and the middle containing seven, for a total of seventeen syllables. Haiku developed in Japan as far back as the ninth century but really took hold several centuries ago as a way to remember and celebrate nature.

What I’ve always enjoyed about writing haikus is that it requires your mind to distill the experienced moment into its essence, jettisoning extraneous material. This is, I find, not so easy to do. After all, you have but seventeen words to tell a story. Oh, the value of discipline!  

Any subject in nature can be the focus of a haiku.

I find birds to be an especially appealing subject: 

Hidden in white pine,

An owl hoots from the darkness,

With North Star above.

 

Barn and tree swallows,

flit, dash, and turn in sunlight, 

flashing metal tints.

 

Overhanging branch,

Reflects bird in still water,

Belted Kingfisher

 

A woodcock spirals,

Toward the belt of Orion,

With love on his mind.

 

Bluebirds in rapture,

Tumble from a perch of oak, 

The sky is falling. 

 

With sun as loci, 

Red-tailed hawk pair pirouettes, 

Fanning brick toned tails.

 

From a city tree,  

House finch song sweetly echoes,

Off brownstone buildings.

 

Miniature forms,

These metallic hummingbirds,

Are other worldly.

 

Woodpecker on tree,

Hammering of bill wears wood,

Like water does stone.

 

Red knots on mud flat, 

hemispheric globetrotters, 

bind us together.

 

Noisy blackbird flock,

Descends to ground from treetops,

Tossing leaves to feed.

 

Next to birds I’ve probably written more haikus involving the ocean than any other topic: 

Miles from Island’s end,

Leviathan surfaces,

Birds flock and fish leap.

 

A lone sanderling,

Searches for food in wave foam,

Along the sea’s edge.

 

A fishing boat plows,

Through strong wind and crested waves,

Wearing cap of gulls.

 

A grey green ocean,

With waves made angry by wind,

Hurls against the shore.

 

Devonian forms,

Pairs of horseshoe crabs spawning,

Bathed in bright moonlight.

 

Mysterious sea,

With implacable surface,

Teems with life beneath.

Plants can be great haiku subjects too: 

Spring dogwood petals,

Floating in woodland gloaming,

Like lotus on pond

 

A gift from a tree,

A yellow and red leaf falls,

Autumn has arrived.

 

Splitting sidewalk crack, 

bursts of chicory purple,

the power of plants.

 

The smooth bark of beech,

Ripples like animal skin,

An elephant tree.

 

A fragile flower, 

Unfurls like spreading fingers, 

Of an upturned hand.

 

Under crisp blue sky,

Orange pumpkins dot brown earth,

A field with freckles.

 

On white pine sapling,  

The weight of a wet spring snow, 

makes the tree curtsy.

 

A goldenrod field,

Filled with bright yellow flowers,

Sunshine concentrate.

How about insects?

Monarch butterfly,

With Mexico on its mind,

Flutters over road.

 

In warming spring sun, 

A mourning cloak butterfly flits, 

Over forest leaves.

 

And then there’s miscellany:

Strand of orange sky,

The sun has fallen again,

The earth spins through space.

 

An orange sliver,

The western sky glows brightly,

Soon stars will appear.  

 

Grasses look like hair,

On hills that look like muscles,

This animal earth. 

 

Snowflakes rock downward,

On to a whitening earth,

Hiding all things.

 

A snowy blanket,

Covers everything in sight,

It is quiet and hushed.

 

Why not give haikus a try?

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

Tom Muratore passed away Sept. 8. File photo

Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), 75, died Tuesday, Sept. 8, leaving behind a career of public service both in police and in local government.

His passing was announced by Suffolk officials Tuesday afternoon.

“For the last 10 years, he served his constituents with passion and unwavering dedication,” said Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) in a statement. “Around the horseshoe, he was a quiet warrior. He chose his moments carefully, and when he spoke, people listened. During the COVID crisis, Tom was there for his constituents in every way – even if that meant putting himself at risk – because that is the kind of public servant he was.”

Muratore was born Aug. 19, 1945 and graduated from Central Islip High School in 1963, according to his bio on the Legislature’s website. He has resided in Ronkonkoma with his wife Linda since 1970.

The 10-year legislator served the 4th District, which runs from the Brookhaven portions of Ronkonkoma through Centereach and Selden and as far north as portions of Port Jefferson Station. Before his start, Muratore was a Suffolk County police officer for close to 35 years. He would also become an instructor at the police academy and vice president for the county Police Benevolent Association, a position that he held for 18 years.

“In a changing world with new dangers threatening our families, Tom Muratore was a continuous, experienced protector of those he served,” Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman Jesse Garcia said in a statement. “He was a one-of-a-kind gentleman who made the world a better place for all of us and cannot be replaced.”

The Ronkonkoma resident was elected to the 4th District in November 2009. He served as vice chair for the Public Works, Transportation & Energy Committee, and also sat on the Environment, Parks & Agriculture as well as the Veterans & Consumer Affairs committees.

Brookhaven town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) got his start in public office under Muratore, becoming his chief of staff before deciding to run for office himself. 

LaValle said the longtime legislator “had a heart of gold,” who would always put himself out to help both his friends and staff, though the line was often blurred between the two.

“He loved representing his district, he loved his residents — he absolutely was a dynamic man and great leader and more importantly a great mentor and friend,” LaValle said.

In 2014, he sponsored a bill to establish an Energy Utility Oversight Task Force. Among his other accomplishments, he was instrumental in helping get a bill passed to secure a 23-acre parcel on Boyle Road in Selden later developed into a Town of Brookhaven ballfield, park and walking trail called the Selden Park Complex. He also cosponsored bills to penalize illegal dumping and helped pass laws to monitor drones in county parks and to provide parking for veterans at county facilities.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) ordered flags at county facilities lowered to half-mast in his honor.

“Tom was the utmost professional, someone who was never afraid to reach across the aisle, especially when it came to working together to protect families, our veterans and our quality of life,” Bellone said in a statement.

In the community, he was known as a supporter of the Bethel Hobbs Community Farm in Centereach. The legislator was also known for his desire to secure funds for sewering in the Selden and Centereach communities. In his last election in 2019, Muratore secured his seat by almost 19 percentage points higher than his nearest opponent.

Hobbs Farm vice president Ann Pellegrino said that Muratore was more than supportive to the community farm that grows fresh produce for a network of food pantries and food programs.

“Without him being in our corner, I don’t know if it would have gone as far as we did, in fact I know we would have never gone as far as we did,” Pellegrino said, trying to talk through holding back tears. “I don’t know if anybody can fill his shoes, his passing is a great loss to our community … the flag has never flown half-mast at the farm, but today it flew half-mast.”

This post was updated Sept. 9 to include quotes from Ann Pellegrino and Kevin LaValle.

People from as far as Manhattan and as close as Centereach have been taking their vacations on Long Island, such as at the Fox & Owl Inn in Port Jefferson, instead of other states/countries where travel restrictions make it difficult. Photo from Rebecca Kassay

Residents of both Suffolk County and New York City have turned to local hotels and bed and breakfasts to enjoy time away from home amid limited travel options during the pandemic.

With out-of-state guests from numerous states limited in their travel to the area, corporate travel down considerably, and sports teams either shut down or playing without any fans, area hotels have still attracted guests from nearby towns and villages and from city residents disappointed with ongoing urban closures and eager to enjoy a natural setting.

People from as far as Manhattan and as close as Centereach have been taking their vacations on Long Island, such as at the Stony Brook Holiday Inn Express, instead of other states/countries where travel restrictions make it difficult. File photo

“It’s very different now,” said Jamie Ladone, sales executive at the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook. “We’re not getting as many out-of-state guests,” but the hotel is finding people who are eager for a staycation.

Indeed, Emilie Zaniello and her family recently spent a weekend at the Holiday Inn, just 20 minutes from her home in Centereach

“We needed to get out of our element, to take a break from everyday life and the stresses right now,” said Zaniello, who stayed during a weekend with her husband John and their two children, 8-year-old Abigail, and 6-year-old John Robert.

The family felt “cooped up in the house” as their children didn’t have as much of an opportunity to do “normal, everyday things,” Zaniello said.

Abigail and John Robert enjoyed playing on the baseball field and the basketball court, while the family also booked time to go swimming.

“It just felt like a mini-vacation, where we didn’t have to go too far,” said Zaniello, who drove back and forth to her home to take care of the family’s two miniature dachshunds.

At the Holiday Inn, Suffolk residents have also enjoyed the indoor pool, outdoor patio, and volleyball and basketball courts, which families can use while maintaining social distancing, Ladone said. The hotel also has a putting green, horseshoes, and a baseball field and basketball court.

“We have people looking to spend quality time together like a family outdoors,” Ladone said.

The Holiday Inn has a meeting space upstairs with a seating capacity, under non-pandemic conditions, of 100. The hotel is hosting baby showers and corporate events outdoors on their patio.

The Holiday Inn has booked about 30 percent more outdoor parties than usual, Ladone said.

The Stony Brook hotel has also partnered with Spa Exotique, which offers massages or facials, and kayak packages with Stony Brook Harbor Kayak and Paddleboard.

Bed and Breakfast 

Bed and breakfasts in the area are also attracting attention from residents of Suffolk County and New York City.

At the Fox and Owl Inn in Port Jefferson, people are booking their rooms one to three weeks before they need them, reflecting the uncertainty about plans that might need to change amid fluid infection rates.

For the past two months, the Fox and Owl has been booking about 90 to 95 percent of their capacity, with a majority of the guests coming from New York City and Long Island rather than the usual far-flung locations across the country and world.

The bed and breakfast derived its name from “The Lord of the Rings” book series, which husband and wife owners Andrew Thomas and Rebecca Kassay enjoys. They each picked an animal that was native to the area and hoped to create a place that was akin to the respite the main characters felt when they visited an inn.

Kassay said the Inn has “kept up to date as far as the recommendations for cleaning and the response to the COVID-19.”

“It just felt like a mini-vacation, where we didn’t have to go too far.”

— Emilie Zaniello

The Fox and Owl is located in an 1850 Victorian home, which has large windows that Kassay keeps open as often as she can. Kassay and Thomas also use Lysol on surfaces regularly and ask their guests to wear masks in public.

While guests sit on sofas that are six feet apart, they have shared stories about their quarantine experiences and make predictions about what will happen next.

The Fox and Owl has three guest suites. Some family groups have booked the entire bed and breakfast, which is “really nice for families that are coming to visit other family members,” Kassay said. Groups of friends with similar quarantine habits who feel comfortable interacting with each other have also booked the entire Inn.

The Fox and Owl offers guests the use of a jacuzzi, which is complimentary with any booking. For an additional fee, the Inn provides S’Mores near the fire pit.

Kassay said she and Thomas appreciate that they can offer people an “escape and relief from the stress that everyone is handling.”

As the owner of a bed and breakfast, she said she has reflected on the challenge of remaining personable to guests even while wearing a mask. The daughter of a Sicilian mother, Kassay was raised to speak by using body language and by communicating with her hands as well as her words.

She noticed how guests have become “more expressive,” she said. “If you stop and look at people talking, there is more physicality to American’s interaction with one another.”

A resident of midtown, Mey, who preferred to use only her first name, said she and her boyfriend came to Port Jefferson to escape from the city and enjoy nature amid all the urban closures.

They planned to visit Port Jefferson for the day and wound up spending the night at the Fox and Owl Inn when they weren’t ready to drive back to Manhattan. Mey and her boyfriend enjoyed sitting on the porch, visiting a nearby park and eating ice cream.

“Port Jefferson has a lot of nature and the feeling of a vacation,” Mey said. The experience was “very chill.”

The Manhattanite enjoys attending Broadway shows when she is in the city, which are still closed.

The urban couple traveled to Long Island because they were “looking for something peaceful” and they “found it. Seeing green is better than seeing buildings.”

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Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The intersection of Main Street and Old Field Road in Setauket marks the entrance to the Frank Melville Memorial Park and Sanctuary. The horseshoe-shaped park, completed in 1937, includes extensive plantings, a simulated grist mill, a magnificent view of Conscience Bay and the cottage of the last Setauket miller Everett Hawkins. From the park, there is an entrance to the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation Sanctuary grounds with its extensive nature paths.

Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Just after dawn, the Setauket Mill Pond shimmers with morning mist and reflects the early morning sky. Walking along the path in the Frank Melville Memorial Park, the only sounds, except for the occasional car going by, are the birds in the trees and the ducks in the pond. They contrast with the greens, browns and grays of early morning. The contemplative surroundings start the day with the beauty of God’s creation and give perspective to the rest of the day.

I walk the park almost every day. I often stop at one or another of the many benches that line the park and face the lower mill pond. From that perspective, I see what I don’t take in while walking.

At first, the pond surface is like glass reflecting the bare brown trees, their branches forming interlacing patterns against the clear blue sky. Then a gentle breeze turns the pond to silver, moving it with patterns of dark and light. I notice walkers strolling along the path, their bright jacket colors contrasting with the brown shades of old gnarled black birch, white birch and evergreens. One variety of the rhododendrons along the path shows a few beginning buds. The forsythia, the park’s first spring color, is already showing yellow blooms. The dark evergreens, planted almost 80 years ago as mature trees, add vertical splendor climbing skyward.

As I walk, I hear the background sounds of water flowing over the mill dam and into the bay. A pair of mallards glides slowly across the pond occasionally dipping their beaks into the water. Suddenly a mallard glides down to the pond, his wings flapping to slow him down and his feet striking the pond and creating a spray of water. The trumpet calls of geese announce flight as they fly over the Old Field Road bridge, then across the mill dam and into Conscience Bay.

Almost every day I watch a swan glide slowly under the bridge and into the lower pond. Within a few minutes, he suddenly rises just above the water and with wings slapping the surface of the pond, creating a staccato of sound, flies to the north end of the pond near the island and then glides around the lower pond exercising his authority over ducks and geese.

Last month, my wife and I spent an early spring afternoon in the park and sanctuary. We walked into the park past the Setauket Post Office with its Greek Revival columns topped by corn cob capitals. Spring colors were just beginning to emerge along the one-third mile path around the lower mill pond. Together we turned off the horseshoe path and walked past the red barn and the new fencing that marks the entrance to the park sanctuary. We chose one of the middle paths that led into the woods and we were suddenly surprised by a grove of conifers between the path and the Bates House parking lot. There is almost no undergrowth at this time of year and with several trees and bushes removed or cut back the evergreens look spectacular. We continued along the wood chip paths and were delighted by the looks of the bare trees, shrubs and evergreens surrounding us and with the smell of red cedar as we walked.

This is a wonderful time of year to be in the park and especially to wander along the sanctuary pathways. It is impossible to get lost here as all the pathways are circular and you end up at either the red barn at the park or the Bates House at the end of Bates Road. It is also easy to stay a safe distance from other walkers, especially in the sanctuary.

The area around the Setauket Millpond was a center of commerce for the community from the time it was settled in 1655 until early in the 20th century. It is easy to imagine almost any time in Setauket history while in the park. Looking out over the mill dam, Conscience Bay reflects the 8,000 years the Native Americans lived here before the English settlers came to Setauket. The mill tells the story of the farmer grinding grain in the 1700s. The recently restored red barn was originally made from World War One barracks buildings at Camp Upton in Yaphank. The stable is a reminder of the white horse “Smokey” from the 1950s who would always come to the fence for half an apple. The stone bridge relates how an immigrant’s great-grandson, Ward Melville, came to Setauket and gave us an image of the countryside of rural England and Europe with a park and sanctuary.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Photo by John Turner

By John L. Turner

This is the first of a two-part series.

Like most people I’ve always liked to collect things. Some objects were mainstream — baseball cards and comic books as a kid, for example, but some were decidedly not. As an adult I’ve had a prolonged passion for old bird books dating from the end of the nineteenth century through the beginning of the twentieth.

Looking around my study from where I write this, I realize I have a lot of objects that fit the latter “non-mainstream” category — deer antlers, assorted shells and other marine objects, mammal skulls, numerous pine cones, and a bird nest or two lying scattered along the leading edge of the shelves that hold the beloved bird books.

I also realize these objects, collected from countless outdoor explorations, represent a window to the world of nature that lays accessible on the other side of each of our front doors.

I’ve especially liked to collect items found along the shore, of which we have a lot. I have a favorite piece of driftwood, its edges rounded and softened from years in the elements. In it sits two species of whelk shells — Knobbed and Channeled Whelk, both species of sea snails native to Long Island’s marine waters.

Knobbed Whelk gets its name from knobs or projections that lay along the coil situated on the top of the shell; the Channeled Whelk’s name comes from a coiled channel or suture that runs along the inside edge of the spiral. These two species are closely related, belonging to the same genus; sometimes referred to as conch, they are the source of scungilli, the Italian dish especially popular around the holidays.

If you spend anytime strolling along the shoreline of Long Island Sound you’ve probably seen further evidence of whelk — their tan-colored egg cases washed up in the wrack line. Complex objects they are, consisting of upwards of a dozen or more quarter-sized compartments, connected by a thread, reminiscent of a broken Hawaiian lei.

If you find an egg case shake it vigorously; if it sounds like a baby’s rattle you’ll be rewarded by opening up one of the leathery compartments, because the objects causing the sound are many perfectly formed, tiny whelks. 

As I recently found out, you can identify the whelk species by the shape of the egg case compartments — Channeled have a pinched margin like what a chef does to a dumpling while the margins of Knobbed have an edge like a coin. How an adult whelk makes this highly complex structure with several dozen baby whelks in each unit is a complete mystery to me.

On the shelf next to the driftwood is another egg case ­— this one from a skate and, as with whelk egg cases, it’s often found as an item deposited in the beach’s wrack line. Black, with a shine on its surface, it is rectangular with four parentheses-like projections sticking out from the four corners. Skates, related to sharks, are distinctive shaped fish with “wings” and several species are found in the marine waters around Long Island including Winter, Barndoor, and Little Skates. 

The cases are sometimes called “mermaids purses,” a wonderfully colorful name, although I’ve never seen any items a mermaid would carry inside one. If you look closely you can see the broken seam, along one of the shorter edges, where the baby skate emerged.

The distinctive shell of Northern Moon Snails are another common item found by beachcombers and a common item on my shelf — with four prized specimens, including the largest I’ve ever seen, they are the second-most common item I have. (Various pinecones are the most common but that’s for a future column).

Moon snails are shellfish predators, possessing a massive foot that’s 3x to 4x the size of the shell when it spreads out that it uses to push through sand. If you’ve ever picked up a clam or mussel shell with a round little hole through it you’ve just picked up a Moon Snail victim. They use a specialized “tongue” called a radula to rasp their way into the shell of a bivalve. Once through the shell, the snail secretes a weak acid that helps dissolve the tissue of the clam or mussel which the snail slurps up.

Twice while beach combing I’ve found other evidence of a Moon Snail — a sandy, semi-circular collar made of sand grains held together by gluelike mucus the snail secretes. These are egg masses, an intact one shaped like a nearly closed letter “C” (the two I found were half of that as they are fragile and easily broken). Each collar contains scores of snail eggs which develop and hatch if not predated by smaller snails like oyster drills and periwinkles.

Rounding out the discussion of my study’s marine objects are two other shells: Jingle Shells and Slipper Shells — the first a bivalve, the second a species of snail. Jingle shells, get their name from the jingling sound they make if you shake a few together in your hand and are used to make wind chimes you’ll sometimes see hanging from beach houses. They are beautiful and iridescent, coming in several different colors — orange, yellow, white, and grey. Jingle shells are also known as “mermaid’s toenails.”

Slipper shells are also fascinating animals. All slipper shells start off as male but as they mature they become female. They often stack with the larger females on bottom and the smaller males on top, making the species a “sequential hermaphrodite.” Occasionally you’ll see a slipper shell attached to a horseshoe crab. These gifts and others await you on a stroll along Long Island’s hundreds of miles of shoreline.

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

‘Photography helps people see’ ~ Berenice Abbott

By Heidi Sutton

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack revealed the winners of its 26th annual Photo Contest at an award ceremony and reception on Sept. 18. The highlight of the evening was a traditional slide show of the winning selections from this and previous years. Project Assistant Phyllis Barone handed out the awards for the evening.

Sponsored by the Tiffen Company for the 13th year in a row, this year’s competition drew almost 800 entries from amateur photographers across the country. Of those submissions, 46 photos were chosen to be enlarged, framed and hung on permanent display in the nursing home. The breathtaking images will be on exhibit in the Helen and Nat Tiffen Gallery for a year and will then move up to the resident units.

The innovative event is the brainchild of Dennine W. Cook, chief public relations officer at Gurwin who came up with the initial idea in 1993 as a way of “making [Gurwin’s] bare walls worthy of a smile.”

“Your beautiful photography does more than just decorate the nursing and rehab center; it creates an ambiance that feels like home. It inspires people. It comforts people. It brings joy to people, not just our residents but our staff and visitors as well, every day,” said Cook. ”There aren’t that many things that you can do in this world that have that kind of sustaining impact.”

“This a favorite event of ours,” said President and CEO of the Gurwin Healthcare System Stuart B. Almer before thanking Cook for coming up with the contest and for “beautifying our hallways.”

This year’s winning photos are presented in a modern and stylish wooden frame provided by The Frame Center in Smithtown, as opposed to the silver metal framing of previous years, after Almer suggested the change “to enhance the photos even further.” All future contest winners will have the same frame “so the building looks nice and uniform going forward” he said.

Cook went on to speak of the profound impact these incredible images have made on residents of the 460-bed facility “to whom they mean so much.” She spoke of Debbie, a 60-year-old traumatic brain injury survivor at the facility. “She’s writing a book, she’s committed to getting back out into the world to compete in her second Iron Man. She’s feisty, she’s focused, she’s fierce, and she gets some of her inspiration from your photos on the wall.”

“This contest, although competitive and a great achievement for you as a photographer, is really about the people who get to see your work once it is chosen,” explained Cook.

The annual contest does not accept digital entries, only 8 × 10 prints, which are not returned. However, Cook was quick to assure the audience that all of the submissions will be put to good use. “[The residents] use them in art therapy as painting and drawing inspiration and in crafting classes. It’s become a great resource here at Gurwin and everyone is very grateful.”

This year’s judges, Christopher Appoldt (Christopher Appoldt Photography) and Tony Lopez (Tony Lopez Photography), were given the difficult task of choosing a grand prize winner along with honorable mentions for 12 categories as well as Best in Show, which this year was awarded to Bryan Ray from Half Moon Bay, California for “The Great Migration,” a stunning image of hundreds of wildebeest attempting to cross a river in Africa during a migration to greener pastures. Five additional photos were chosen as Resident Selections.

Added Cook, “All the selections, whether they be Honorable Mentions, Grand Prizes or Resident Selections will be judged, discussed and enjoyed by so many appreciative eyes for years to come and to me that’s the real honor — that your photos will hang for decades here in our resident’s home.”

Entries for next year’s photo contest will be accepted between Feb. 15 and April 15, 2020.

2019 WINNING SELECTIONS

BEST IN SHOW

“The Great Migration” by Bryan Ray

ACTION/SPORTS CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Drive to the Net” by Elise Rubin

Honorable Mention

“Skater Boy” by Carolyn Ciarelli

Honorable Mention

“Shake It Off” by James Napoli

ALTERED/ENHANCED CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“View from Governer’s Island” by Susan Silkowitz

Honorable Mention

“Captain America Caleb” by Deidre Elzer-Lento

Honorable Mention

“Working in the Fields” by Jan Golden

Honorable Mention

‘Unisphere After Dark” by Leon Hertzson

CHILDREN’S CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Serenity” by Ashley Tonno

Honorable Mention

“Four of a Kind” by Donna Crinnian

Honorable Mention

“The Friendly Forest Fairy” by Sarah Wenk

LANDSCAPES CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Glade Creek Grist Mill” by Mike DiRenzo

Honorable Mention

“Tufted Landscape” by Jeff Goldschmidt

Honorable Mention

“Horseshoe Falls, Niagara” by Barbara McCahill

LONG ISLAND/NEW YORK CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Melville Pond” by Jeff Goldschmidt

Honorable Mention

“Croton Dam” by Ellen Dunn

Honorable Mention

“Never Forget” by Carol Milazzo-DiRenzo

NATURE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Solitary” by Jo-Anne Bodkin

Honorable Mention

“Under Angel Oak” by Carol Goldstein

Honorable Mention

“From Bud to Bloom” by Meryl Lorenzo

Honorable Mention

“Night Dreams” by Carol Milazzo-DiRenzo

PEOPLE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Balancing Act” by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention

“Ballerina on Malecon, Cuba” by Roni Chastain

Honorable Mention

“Waiting for Sunrise, Death Valley” by Ellen Dunn

PETS CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Little Miss” by Lora Ann Batorsky

Honorable Mention 

“Callie” by Jill Fanuzzi

Honorable Mention

“What’s for Dinner?” by Dan Greenburg

STILL LIFE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Silk Threads” by Jo-Anne Bodkin

Honorable Mention

“Pink Rose” by Ellen Gallagher

Honorable Mention

“Mailbox, Italy” by Sondra Hammer

Honorable Mention

“Sunflower in Window” by William Hammer

TRAVEL CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Balloon over Bagan” by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention

“Starry Night in Rome” by Mike DiRenzo

Honorable Mention

“Lofoten, Norway” by Debbie Monastero

Honorable Mention

“The Dolomites” by Bobbie Turner

WILDLIFE CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“Snowy Flies” by Janis Hurley

Honorable Mention

“In Flight” by Adina Karp

Honorable Mention

“Mama Duck” by Carol Goldstein

STUDENT CATEGORY

Grand Prize

“The Vessel” by Alex Horowitz

Honorable Mention

“Cake Pop” by Chloe Catton

Honorable Mention

“Lost in the Green” by Stephanie Clarfield

RESIDENT SELECTIONS

“Cousins” by Howard Antosofsky

“Letchworth” by Rachel Perks

“Tufted Titmouse” by Michael Danielson

“Tall Ships Visit Greenport” by Barbara McCahill

“Harbor Seal” by Jacqueline Taffe

Stock photo

By Ken Taub

One could easily be forgiven for not knowing certain things. 

While strolling along the moonlit shores of Riverhead’s Peconic Estuary or, closer to my home, at tiny Cordwood Park, on the back side of Stony Brook Harbor, you might come upon a prehistoric carousel of love. Yet watching the late spring mating circles of horseshoe crabs — at once peculiar and comical — an observer might never know how very significant these odd creatures are. One might not know, as I did not for many a year, that they have been on this Earth for so long that they survived five mass extinctions, an impressive feat for any earthling.  

One might also be wholly unaware that people in surgery, those who receive stents or joint replacements, or the large numbers of us who get flu vaccines, take insulin or receive intravenously delivered chemotherapies or antibiotics are safer, free of dangerous endotoxins, thanks to the coppery blue blood of horseshoe crabs.

Really, who knew that one of our saving angels has not feathery wings but leathery hard carapaces, seven pairs of legs and a pointy tail with eyes on its underside. Tooling around the seashores, ocean shallows and estuaries for nearly 450 million years, and unchanged for over 300 million, they have been largely cancer-free and carefree — until recently.

Growing up on Long Island, one saw larger groupings of horseshoe crabs seemingly everywhere. But then their harvesting as bait had dropped measurably in the 1950s and ’60s, and their use as fertilizer had stopped decades before that. And while their local harvest has gone down significantly from the late 1990s, their numbers on Long Island and the waterways of the greater New York region show a continuing decline, according to both the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  

However, in other parts of the East Coast, specifically the rich Delaware Bay region, the overall stock remains stable, while in the Southeast (North Carolina through Florida), indications are the numbers of horseshoe crabs have actually increased.

So, what has happened in our neck of the woods, and what can we do to ensure steady populations of these ancient arthropods whose abundant eggs are a great, life-saving food source for migrating birds, and whose special blood, once extracted, saves us? How, in short, do we return the favor?

The reasons for regional differences in stock abundance are many and depend as much on natural cycles as harvesting by fisherman and drug manufacturers (the majority of horseshoe crabs, once their blood has been extracted to produce limulus amoebocyte lysate, or LAL, are kept alive and returned to the waters).  

One reason for our local decline is that other states — Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — have not harvested any horseshoe crabs since 2007. Yet there have been very few harvest moratoriums here in New York, and they are small and temporary.  Horseshoe crabs are preferred by our local fishing fleets as bait for whelk, eel and conch. Apparently, neighboring moratoriums have made our crusty old co-inhabitants more valuable as a bait source here.

What can be done to keep their numbers steady? Increasingly, concerned citizens are encouraging the use of nylon and other mesh bait bags, which require only a tenth of the regular portion of horseshoe crab bait. It’s efficient, and it needs only further promotion. Others are looking to test alternative bait sources. 

Scientists at the University of Delaware have developed such an alternative, and some individuals and groups, like Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, want to do a two-year test in our local waters. Some are considering breeding season moratoriums during the spring, while allowing the horseshoe crabs to be harvested come summer and fall, in prime fishing season. Others are calling for a full, multiyear halt on bait harvesting. Reporting pilferage of large numbers of horseshoe crabs — sometimes flatbed or small pickup truck-fulls— to the NY DEC can be helpful, as they will give out stiff fines to those who are caught.

Then there is this: Spreading the word in articles, classrooms, at eco-fairs, among fishing clubs and at town hall meetings in shore towns that these very old animals are very valuable; to us, in certain medicines and medical procedures. To the migrating wildlife and fish who feast on their larvae. To our local fishermen, a vital industry on Long Island for over 150 years. And, of course, for the horseshoe crabs themselves; their eons-long survival a testimony to adaptation, endurance and whatever spirit resides in such strange and remarkable beings.

Ken Taub, a longtime resident of St. James, now a volunteer with the Long Island Sierra Club Group, is a copywriter, marketing consultant, online journalist and editor and author. 

County officials joined Legislators Sarah Anker and Kara Hahn and County Executive Steve Bellone in announcing new changes to Cathedral Pines County Park. Photo by David Luces

County to increase accessibility options

As the weather begins to improve and with summer just around the corner, residents may begin to enjoy Suffolk County-owned parks. With their minds on attracting nature tourism, county officials came together April 26 to announce the start of a $5 million multiyear modernization project at Cathedral Pines County Park in Middle Island. 

“We are announcing our next phase of the Stay Suffolk campaign, where we are encouraging our residents to stay local,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said. “We want them to enjoy the things that we have here particularly in the summertime.” 

The renovation project is part of an effort to promote Suffolk County parks, local tourism and highlight popular destinations, as well as regional attractions. 

The first phase of the project will be a restoration of some of the park’s most used areas. Roads will be widened and realigned to reduce congestion, while areas are planned to be reconfigured to accommodate 74 additional campsites. All sites will be outfitted with concrete paved picnic table pads, barbecue grills, fire rings, a Wi-Fi system, water and electricity. 

Additionally, the renovations will create a designated recreation area away from the current campsites in the center of the park, where visitors can have oversight over children without disturbing other campers. 

“When we invest in our parks, it improves our quality of life,” Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), the chair of the Legislature’s parks committee, said.

“This is the place to be, and it will be even nicer once we are done with the improvement plan.”

— Kara Hahn

In 2012, the county had an analysis and study done on the park to develop a master plan, which has led to the $5 million expansion.

A playground will be converted into additional visitor parking, while the county would create a new children’s playground located adjacent to the activity building. New projects also include a new picnic pavilion area, additional picnic tables and grills, bathhouses with upgraded showers that meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessibility, five new horseshoe courts, two new boccie courts and a new sand volleyball court. The final phase of the plan is to create a new drive-up check-in station for campers to streamline the check-in process and updates to sanitary systems and the installation of a new central dump station with tanks to store sanitary waste from the bathhouses.

Hahn added that the project will go a long way in providing the necessary activities for residents to take a vacation locally.  

“There are so many spectacular spots available for hiking, camping and biking,” she said. “This is the place to be, and it will be even nicer once we are done with the improvement plan.”

Cathedral Pines consist of 320 acres of parkland located along the headwaters of the Carmans River and is one of 10 Suffolk County parks that offer overnight camping and possesses a 6-mile mountain bike trail system.  

The county has also announced new accessibility options at other county-owned parks.

Handicap-accessible golf carts will be available at West Sayville Golf Course for free for disabled veterans. Wheelchair-accessible beach chairs will be available at the Cupsogue, Meschutt and Smith Point beaches. Patrons can call the beaches in advance to have the wheelchairs ready upon their arrival. Mobility mats will be rolled out this summer at Smith Point to make it accessible for wheelchair users, elderly and families traveling with children.  

“I’m a part of the senior committee and I hear a lot of complaints that some residents are not able to come to our parks because it’s not accessible,” Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said. “So now moving forward we are investing in this very important issue.”

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Cormorant and snapping turtles relax on lower mill pond at Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The intersection of Main Street and Old Field Road in Setauket marks the entrance to the Frank Melville Memorial Park. The horseshoe-shaped park, completed in 1937, includes extensive plantings, a simulated grist mill, a magnificent view of Conscience Bay and the cottage of the last Setauket miller Everett Hawkins. From the park, there is an entrance to the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation sanctuary grounds with its extensive nature paths.

The Setauket Millpond was a center of commerce for the community from the time it was settled in 1655 until early in the 20th century. It is easy to imagine almost any time in Setauket history while in the park.

Looking out over the mill dam, Conscience Bay reflects the 8,000 years the Native Americans lived here before the English settlers came to Setauket. The mill tells the story of the farmer grinding grain in the 1700s. The recently restored red barn was originally made from World War I barracks buildings at Camp Upton in Yaphank. The stable remembers the horse Smokey and speaks of a 19th-century horse and carriage. The stone bridge relates how an immigrant great-grandson came to Setauket and gave it an image of the countryside of rural England and Europe with a park.

Just after dawn the Setauket Millpond shimmers with morning mist and reflects the early morning sky and the trees that partly surround it. Walking along the path in Frank Melville Memorial Park, the only sounds, except for the occasional car going by, are the birds in the trees and the ducks in the pond. They contrast with the greens, browns and grays of early morning. The contemplative surroundings start the day with the beauty of God’s creation and gives perspective to the rest of the day.

Birdsong by Beverly C. Tyler

Spring, the park at morning.

Woodpeckers rat-a-tat, the whoosh of wings — Canadian geese, a soft grouse call is heard.

Bird song, first near and then far, across
the pond.

Bird song left and right.

A gentle breeze turns the pond to silver, moving patterns of dark and light.

The background sounds of water flowing over the mill dam and into the bay.

Pairs of mallards gliding slowly across
the pond.

The trumpet calls of geese announcing flight as they rise from the pond and fly across the mill dam, across the marsh and into the bay.

Trees surrounding the pond make patterns of greens of every shade.

Dark evergreens and climbing vines add vertical splendor climbing skyward.

Bright green beech and silver-green sycamore trees stand stately and strong.

Patches of white dogwood add depth
and contrast.

A heron glides effortlessly across the surface of the pond, rises and disappears into the cover of a black birch tree.

I am overwhelmed by gentle sounds and contrasting scenery, by muted colors in every shade and texture.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

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By David Ackerman

The ancient craft of wooden boat building is alive and well at the Bayles Boat Shop.

On a dreary Saturday morning in January the workspace, located at Port Jefferson’s Harborfront Park, was filled with many projects at various stages of completion while workers, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, all performed jobs necessary to the task of boatbuilding. 

The space is heated by a wood furnace which allows production to continue throughout the winter months. According to Philip Schiavone, shop director and member for more than 10 years, “We use our mistakes as fuel,” speaking to the spirit of resourcefulness which has enabled the shop to grow purely by the effort of community volunteers.

“We use our mistakes as fuel.”

— Philip Schiavone

The boat shop was founded by Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, a nonprofit organization that tries to promote an appreciation, awareness and understanding of maritime history and the marine environment. The volunteer community at the shop contributes to the overall mission of LISEC by preserving Port Jefferson’s maritime history of boat building, and offering memberships and educational resources to the general public. 

In 2018 the boat shop started a canoe building project for high school students in coordination with Avalon Park’s Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment program in Stony Brook.

“This project is an opportunity for the students to learn new skills that they won’t get in high school while also contributing to their community,” said Len Carolan, the event coordinator at the boat shop.

Some of the practical skills the students are learning include the safe use of tools, making precise measurements, following detailed construction plans, and using advanced woodworking techniques such as mold making, joinery and wood-finishing processes. High school student and Port Jeff Yacht Club Sailing School member Oscar Krug said the project they were working on was a Sassafras 12 canoe kit with laser-cut sections built with a stitch-and-glue process. The finished product will be donated to Avalon Park where it will either be made available for public use or auctioned off in order to fund the next construction project.

“This project is an opportunity for the students to learn new skills that they won’t get in high school while also contributing to their community.”

— Len Carolan

Avalon Park’s STATE program operates year-round and provides volunteer opportunities for eighth- through 12th-graders both in Avalon Park and by networking with local nonprofits. The program is led by Kayla Kraker, a marine biologist and science educator who aims to involve students that are “self-motivated leaders and passionate about nature and the outdoors.”

Other student projects with the STATE program have included horseshoe crab tagging, organic farming, shellfish restoration and an archway construction.

Alongside the canoe build there are multiple projects underway in the boat shop. Members Bill Monsen and John Janicek are in the finishing stages of their restoration of a sailing dinghy called a German Pirate which will be the shop’s first submission to the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic in Connecticut. It has taken three years for this project to develop from a hulk of timber and wood to a stunning restoration, built with careful consideration to historical accuracy. The end product will be a faithful reproduction of the original German Pirate sailing dinghy which was first built in 1934 and is usually found only in Europe, making this model a rare discovery in the United States.

The shop is also preparing for its annual Quick and Dirty boat build in August where participants will race in the Port Jeff Harbor with boats that are constructed in four hours on the shore. Shop members are currently in the finishing stages of a raffle boat project which will be offered up at the event to raise funds for the facility.

Bayles Boat Shop at Harborfront Park is open for business every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Tuesdays 7 to 9 p.m.