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Cayla’s Column

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

The past teaches us invaluable lessons about unity, courage, and overcoming challenges. By studying our community’s deep history, we not only celebrate and learn from the tales of historic heroes and heroines, but also form stronger bonds with those we share our community with.

The Three Village Historical Society seeks to strengthen those ties through its work in preservation and education. Their museum at the Bayles-Swezey House in Setauket evokes the passion for history of its curators in an environment that emphasizes the important roles the Three Village area has played throughout the years. 

I recently had the honor of interviewing Mari Irizarry, appointed earlier this year as the Director of the TVHS, who has brought a wealth of expertise and passion to the Three Village community. According to Irizarry, the organization was founded by volunteers in 1964 to preserve the stories and artifacts of the community. “Sixty years later, that mission is at the backbone of the Society. We are stronger than ever, and it is because of community members and volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to preserving and sharing stories with the public,” she said.

Did you know Setauket and its ancestral residents played a pivotal role in the American Revolution? In fact, General George Washington employed the help of several Long Island spies to gather intelligence on the British army’s operations in what is known as the Culper Spy Ring. The TVHS’s exhibit, “SPIES!” features a large, interactive space where you can follow the daring stories of members of the Ring and learn how they conveyed coded and hidden messages without being discovered by the British troops occupying Long Island.

The history center’s other exhibit, “Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time” sheds light on a diverse community that used to reside in a small area of Setauket. The bygone village still has lessons to teach us all about neighborliness and unity. Over the course of its existence from the Industrial Revolution to the mid-20th century, the area was a melting pot for several minorities including Eastern European Jews, African Americans, and Indigenous Americans.

Despite the fact that its residents practiced different religions and customs and spoke in many languages, Chicken Hill was a cohesive community. The museum has preserved its legacy by showcasing the stories of former residents in the “I Remember” portion of the exhibit, and what life was like then through its informative displays and artifacts.   

The museum grounds are also home to the Three Village Farmer’s Market on Fridays currently from 3 to 7 p.m. and in October from 2 to 6 p.m. Stop by to pick up some groceries and handmade gifts and enjoy the museum’s pay-what-you-can open house and access to all the exhibits.

In addition, celebrate Revolutionary War heroes by attending the TVHS’s 8th annual Culper Spy Day at the museum grounds on Sept. 10. Throughout the day, guests can enjoy an immersive colonial-era experience and participate in interactive activities such as crafts and games. 

Irizarry was eager to share some more highly-anticipated events:

“Next up, after Culper Spy Day, we’re excited to bring back the Spirits Tour on October 22 where guests will join guides through the Setauket Presbyterian and Caroline Church graveyards to listen to stories from costumed actors who will portray the unknown spies during the American Revolution. We’ll cap off the year with the time-honored tradition of the Candlelight House Tour that will take place in the historic neighborhood of Old Field on Dec. 2 and 3. Five homes will be expertly decorated for the holiday season and guests will tour each home learning about the historical architecture and design.”

Visit the museum located at 93 North Country Road in Setauket on Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m., Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children, and is free for TVHS members. For more information about the TVHS’s events, including tours of the exhibits, visit their website at www.tvhs.org or call 631-751-3730. 

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

It’s springtime, and there is no better place to immerse yourself in the season’s beauty and hopeful spirit than in Stony Brook Village. Like an idyllic landscape painting, vibrant flowers are blooming across town, and the trees are budding in an energizing chartreuse. In the village, this break in the weather and the new growth are perfect causes to celebrate, and the Reboli Center for Art and History aims to do just that with its new exhibition: BLOOM. 

BLOOM is a mixed-media exhibit featuring spring-themed works by the gallery’s namesake, Joseph Reboli, as well as works by Mireille Belajonas, Kyle Blumenthal, Joan Branca, Bill Buchholz, Casey Chalem Anderson, Pamela duLong Williams, Pamela Herbst, Melissa Imossi, Rosanne Kaloustian, Linda Davison Mathues, Angela Stratton, Ty Stroudsurg, Chris Wagner, Nancy Wernersbach, and Charles Wildbank. The exhibit spans multiple rooms and features exquisitely vibrant and uplifting landscapes and still lifes, each capturing the floral splendor spring offers. Each piece masterfully radiates the qualities of spring- light, optimism, beauty, and wonder.

Explore the exhibit and admire the works by talented West Sayville native, Chris Wagner, the Center’s Artisan of the Month. His detailed wood carvings of birds are created using a chainsaw! 

The Three Village Garden Club is also featured in a sub-exhibit in the History Room, with floral arrangements, more artwork, and artifacts. Additionally, check out the gift shop, stocked with unique art-adorned merchandise, jewelry, and watches, perfect for Fathers’ Day gifts. 

The Reboli Center was opened to the public in 2016 and named after internationally recognized local realist painter Joseph Reboli, (1945-2004). Situated at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, the gallery overlooks the Stony Brook Creek as well as the historic village. It offers rotating and featured exhibits showcasing local artists and the history of the area. 

Please visit the Center’s website at rebolicenter.org for more information regarding upcoming and current exhibitions or call 631-751-7707.

Visit BLOOM on Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit will be on display until July 10. BLOOM is a must-see on your next outing in Stony Brook Village!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

Above, a Killdeer sits on its nest at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. Photo by Raina Angelier/Twin Roses Photography

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

The Killdeer is a large, migratory plover that tends to nest in odd places around Long Island, such as school ballfields, golf courses, grass strips next to shopping malls, and even in parking lots! 

These locations are heavily trafficked by people and therefore extremely hazardous to the parent birds and their eggs or chicks. Frequently, Killdeer eggs are unintentionally run over by lawnmowers, cars, or trampled by human feet. 

However, this doesn’t have to happen. With the help of the Four Harbors Audubon Society’s newly-launched Killdeer Protection Program, you can contribute to a Killdeer success story!

First, where, and how can you spot a Killdeer; and secondly, how would you know it’s in trouble?  

Keep an eye out for Killdeer here from mid-March to August, their breeding season. The Killdeer we see journeyed from their winter foraging grounds in Central and South America to build nests and raise their chicks here. These birds will spend most of their time on the ground in grassy areas laden with their favorite foods, like worms, grasshoppers, and other insects. 

Unlike other plover species, Killdeer do not necessarily live by the water, and so you may frequently spot them inland. Both males and females are about the size of a blue jay, sporting mostly brown and white feathers with two distinctive black bands on their breast. Listen to them closely, and you may hear their high-pitched namesake call: “Kill-deer!” 

A Killdeer searches for insects at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. Photo by Raina Angelier/Twin Roses Photography

Like other shorebirds, Killdeer nests are shallow depressions in the ground called “scrapes.” Here, they lay 4 to 6 eggs per clutch, twice in the season. The tan and brown speckled eggs are well-camouflaged and can easily be mistaken for rocks. Although this camouflage adaptation helps hide the eggs from predators such as crows and raccoons, it also makes it difficult for people to notice them, or to avoid interfering with the nest site. 

What should you do if you find a nest in danger? 

If you happen upon a nest, you are likely to see one of the Killdeer parents feigning a broken wing, luring you further and further away from the nest and its eggs. This “broken-wing dance” is a clear sign you have approached a Killdeer nest too closely. Make a note of the location, place a marker nearby if possible, and reach out as soon as possible to the 4HAS’s Killdeer Protection Program by email:  [email protected]. 

Do not attempt to move the nest yourself. Since the Killdeer is a native migratory bird species, it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is, therefore, illegal to disrupt the active nest in any way without a permit. 

The members and volunteers of the 4HAS Killdeer Protection Program will work fast to make sure the nest is secured by roping it off, by bringing awareness to the site via signs and colorful pylons, and by making contact with the landowners for access. Once the Killdeer chicks fledge or become independent from their parents, members of the program will remove the barriers from the location. 

For more information about this remarkable bird, visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer. Thank you for looking after our feathered friends in need! 

Thank you so much to my fellow Killdeer Protection Program team members Elaine Maas, Patrice Domeischel, and Georgia Turner for their contributions to this article.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

For centuries, the Three Village area has been home to fearless and heroic women who were ahead of their time. During the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s  (WMHO) Women’s History Walking Tour: “Against the Grain”  on March 25, eager listeners heard tales of these courageous ladies, spanning from colonial times to the 20th century. 

When I arrived in Stony Brook Village for the 3:50 tour, blooming daffodils and crocuses were sprouting up across the town, celebrating the recent arrival of spring. Our group met at the historic Grist Mill, where I met the other participants and our guide, Kayla Cheshire. Kayla has worked as the WMHO’s education and outreach manager for about three years and is a passionate and knowledgeable history buff. 

The event attracted history enthusiasts from all over, however, many of the participants were locals. We were even fortunate to have descendants of a local historic figure, suffragette, conservationist, and town founder Jennie Melville among us.

We gathered around Kayla as she told us about the history of the area, including how it was home to conductors of the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s. According to legend, conductors would use coded quilts to help enslaved people, who were escaping from the still-legal slave trade in the South, along their way to freedom. Details of the quilts, including morningstar and hourglass symbols would indicate the time and type of planned journeys to the next stations, bringing them one step closer to Canada. For instance, a squiggly emblem called the “Drunkard’s Path” implied the path they had to take was a difficult, zigzagged one, possibly through rough terrain and rivers, so they wouldn’t be tracked by bounty hunters.

The tour proceeded to All Souls Episcopal Church on Main Street, then to the Stony Brook Village Center, just in time to see the majestic eagle atop the Post Office flap its wings at 4 p.m. Here we learned of philanthropist and town matriarch Dorothy Melville, wife of Ward Melville, who was known as Stony Brook’s “fairy godmother.” She was a crucial contributor to the Stony Brook Community Fund and the Museums at Stony Brook and is credited with making the village handicap accessible.

Our next stop was The Jazz Loft. Its rich history included being utilized as a fire department in the early 1900s. In 1935, the building was transformed into a museum by the Melville family and prominent local Dr. Winifred Curtis, among others. Over time, the museum changed locations, and is now called the Long Island Museum on Route 25A.

The tour came to a close at the fascinatingly historic Three Village Inn. We learned about the inn’s former owners including Richard Hallock, Jonas Smith, and Jennie Melville, and its former uses as a private residence, tea room, and finally an inn. After the last story was told, Kayla offered us all free desserts with the purchase of an entrée at the Inn and told us about some of the upcoming happenings around town.

On Saturday, April 23rd, the entire village will honor spring with Spring Appreciation Day, which entails live music, a car show, a scavenger hunt, and a petting zoo. Admission is free and the events will take place between 1:30 and 3:30 PM. 

The Women’s History Walking Tour is now available by request for private groups. Additionally, the WMHO offers “Secrets of Stony Brook Village” to the public throughout the season, with completely unique and newly uncovered stories and legends about the town. The tours will be held on April 7 and 21, as well as on June 2 and 16. There are two sessions each on these days, one at 11:50 a.m. and another at 3:50 p.m.  The tours are $10 per person and the WMHO asks you to please call ahead to make a reservation at 631-751-2244.

Visitors can learn even more about the stories of Stony Brook by taking a tour of the 300-year-old Grist Mill. The historic, working mill will open again on April 16th, and Sunday tours will be available all season long, from April 24 through October.

The Ward Melville Historical Organization plays a crucial role in supporting local history. You, too, can do your part by supporting them. The WMHO suggests you can help by making general fund donations, purchasing a memorial plaque, or by sponsoring an event or historic property. The organization also has several volunteer opportunities. Please visit wmho.org/support-wmho/ for more information on how to get involved.


By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

Over these past two trying years, more and more people have been flocking to nature for recreation and solace. It’s no wonder that birding, also known as birdwatching, continues to grow in popularity. 

Birding can be enjoyed by all and in just about any spot you can imagine.  Not only is it an engaging hobby for the whole family, but it can also be emotionally therapeutic, mentally stimulating, and provide physical exercise.  Additionally, being connected to nature makes us more attuned to our planet’s needs, and more passionate about protecting it. There’s never been a better time to begin birding. I’d like to share a few easy tips to help you get started.

1. There’s no place like home. Odds are, you have a variety of birds right where you live. Get familiar with your common backyard species that are easy to identify such as Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays.  Then start to notice finer details in other birds such as different sparrows. You will be amazed at the variety you see.

2. Get your hands on some resources to help you identify the birds you see. 

◆ Merlin is a great free app. It allows you to enter some basic info such as color, size, and location, to help you figure out what you’ve spotted.

◆ AllAboutBirds.org is a phenomenal, user-friendly website chock full of helpful birding info.

◆ Field Guides: My favorites are the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, the Crossley ID Guide Eastern Birds, and the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.

3. Create a Backyard Bird Oasis. Make your yard a paradise for a wide array of bird species by offering various food and water sources, and shelter. 

There are many ways to feed your feathered friends, including planting native berry-and-seed-producing plants and offering feeders full of birdseed and suet. Some of my favorite native flora are Red Mulberry bushes to attract anything from Baltimore Orioles to Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, and Bee Balm flowers for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds as well as other pollinators such as bees and butterflies. 

In addition to native plants, especially at times when they are not in season, consider supplementing your backyard birds’ diets with quality seed and suet. Safflower and black oil sunflower seeds attract dozens of species of songbirds. Hearty suet is the perfect winter treat for woodpeckers, chickadees, and more, due to its high protein and fat content. 

If you choose to set up birdfeeders of any kind, (platform feeders, cage feeders, etc.) please be mindful of where you place them. Be sure they are several feet away from glass windows to avoid bird collisions. Additionally, they should be very close to shelter, such as shrubs and trees, so birds can easily hide if a predator is nearby. Keep your feeders clean to help maintain the birds’ health.

Providing clean sources of water is equally important. Birdbaths, ponds, and water dishes are wonderful ways to ensure your backyard birds are hydrated. Use a “water-wiggler” or similar device to keep the water from becoming stagnate and home to bacteria and mosquito larvae. Think about purchasing a heated birdbath in the colder months so the water doesn’t freeze. Lastly, the water should be shallow enough for birds to stand in.

Shelter for birds in your yard can range from a pile of wood to a stone wall to leafy trees and shrubs. Birds also require good nesting materials and nesting locations. Although it depends on the species, birds often nest on tree branches, in tree cavities, or in or around manmade structures. They build their nests using grasses, twigs, found objects, and even mud. If you are looking to attract more nesting birds, namely woodpeckers, consider not removing dead trees on your property. Dead trees are home to lots of cavities where birds like to nest, and they are home to millions of insects which are a vital food source to birds and their chicks. For more information, visit 4has.org/bird-oasis.

4. Seek out Other Birders. Join a local Audubon chapter or one of the many bird-related social media groups. The birding community can be very friendly, with members eager to share their knowledge.  What’s this Bird? from the American Birding Association on Facebook has very helpful and knowledgeable members.

5. Keep a Life List. It’s an exciting challenge to keep track of all the bird species you see. The ABA has a list you can download at https://www.aba.org/aba-checklist/

6. Get involved in Remote Learning. Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many resources (free and some with a fee) for learning about birds.  For youngsters all the way through high school, check out https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/, and for birders of all ages, check out Bird Academy, https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/

7. This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning eBird.org. This amazingly comprehensive website provides resources such as maps, photos, descriptions, graphs, notifications, and other data collected by birders worldwide.  Participate in community science by making your own account so that you can contribute to the findings and keep track of your life list using eBird. 

8. Optics such as Binoculars or a Monocular (I found a monocular simpler to use when I was younger) can certainly add to the experience and make it easier to enjoy birds’ behaviors and identify them. 8×42 binoculars are a popular choice among birders. The numbers refer to the magnification and objective diameter.

9. A few tips on how to Bird Responsibly. 

◆ Maintain a respectful distance when birding.  This is especially important for migratory species such as the Snowy Owl.  Remain at least a few hundred feet away from such species. There have been many unfortunate circumstances (out of not knowing or out of selfishness to get a better photo), of people getting too close and stressing out birds that require rest from their long journey. 

◆ Apply bird collision window stickers. Birds have trouble seeing the reflections in glass and often accidentally collide with windows. Adhering stickers to your windows can prevent injuries and fatalities because of this.

◆ Keep your cat indoors. Feral and outdoor pet cats kill 2.4 billion birds annually. By keeping your cat inside, you are protecting wildlife from your cat, and keeping your cat safe from vehicle collisions, parasites, and run-ins with other animals.

Whether you gaze through your kitchen window with a warm mug of coffee in hand or bundle up for a brisk jaunt through the park, our feathered friends are always there to make us smile. I hope these tips help you get started in a lifelong pursuit of birding that will accompany you wherever your travels may take you. Best wishes and happy birding!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

Visitors to West Meadow Beach take a stroll down Trustees Road. Photo by Raina Angelier

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

As we embark on a new year, many of us have resolved to make this year better than the last. Let’s aim to make 2022 a year to smile more and support our neighbors as well as the planet. Our community has so much to offer in helping us achieve our goals. I’d like to share some of my favorite environmentally conscious, self-care resolutions. 

Improve Your Diet and Shop at Local Farmers’ Markets

Looking for a way to support local businesses, enhance your eating habits, and save the planet? Look no further than the Port Jefferson Winter Farmers Market held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson through April 25 and the Huntington Farmers Market open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the John J. Flanagan Center, 423 Park Avenue, Huntington. Buying from local vendors has many advantages. Not only are you purchasing a wide variety of nutritious, in-season goods, but you are also supporting the local economy. In addition, you are contributing to energy conservation since local vendors don’t have to transport their products over long distances. 

Get Fit in the Great Outdoors 

Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Cayla Rosenhagen

The ever-popular resolution to start or improve an exercise regimen can have physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. And the green spaces of Long Island’s north shore provide an ideal setting to accomplish your workout goals. With so many to choose from, I’d like to share some of my top picks. 

Historic Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket offers a picturesque, 0.4-mile, paved loop around Mill Pond. Enjoy the local wildlife, such as ducks, songbirds, deer, and turtles, within easy view. Only minutes away is Trustees Road at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook. Formerly home to beachfront cottages, the road is now closed off to car traffic. The paved, scenic, 1-mile path is a popular destination for walking, jogging, biking, and skating, and getting a dose of Vitamin “Sea.”

Setauket Greenway Trail. Photo by Raina Angelier

Stretching 3.5 miles through old-growth forests and neighborhoods, the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway has trailheads with parking at Limroy Lane in Setauket and Hallock Avenue and Main Street in Port Jefferson Station. On any given day, you can find joggers, families pushing strollers, bicyclists, and people out for a walk with their pooches on this hilly, paved path. If you are looking for a wider array of surfaces and difficulty levels, Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park is the place for you. Choose from taking a stroll along their well-maintained, 0.75-mile boardwalk along the Sound, or hiking the many miles of wooded trails, some of which offer challenging inclines. 

Whether you decide to visit one of these parks or one of LI’s dozens more, be sure to keep the health of Mother Nature in mind. Abide by the “leave only footprints” rule and please be mindful of parks where no pets are permitted. If they are allowed, keep your pets leashed and pick up after them. Go that extra mile by toting a reusable water bottle, as opposed to a disposable, plastic one, and bring along something to pick up any litter you may encounter. 

Embrace Your Green Thumb

Oriole on Native Mulberry Tree. Photo by Raina Angeiler

Despite the chilly weather, now is the perfect time to begin planning your own backyard garden. There is no greater satisfaction than eating a homegrown tomato fresh from the vine. In the most literal sense, you get to reap what you sow. Not only will you save money on your produce bill, but gardening is also a natural stress reliever. Beyond the veggie garden, consider planting native plants and making eco-friendly decisions in how you care for your yard. 

For example, traditional fertilizer often finds its way into our water supply and causes a multitude of health issues for us and the planet. Composting is a much safer option. Native plants are evolutionarily designed to thrive in our climate and therefore require less care and less water. To go a step further, make your property a haven for wildlife by providing edible native plants, a water source, and plenty of shelter. By encouraging wildlife such as birds and bats to your yard, these critters will return the favor by eating up the pesky bugs in your yard. This is a wonderful alternative to dangerous pesticides. Reach out to Four Harbors Audubon Society for assistance with this through their “Bird Oasis” program. Visit their website at https://4has.org/bird-oasis.

Prize-winning fruits and vegetables in the horticulture division at a 3VGC Exhibit. Photo by Cayla Rosenhagen

No room to garden at your residence? No problem. How about participating in a community garden? In addition to getting to know fellow neighborhood gardeners, you will also get the chance to learn from experts. I recently spoke with Ann Pellegrino, the president of Hobbs Farm in Centereach. Here, you can volunteer your time to work in their fields without committing to being the sole caretaker of an individual plot. Your efforts can contribute to supplying local soup kitchens and food pantries with about 30,000lbs of organically grown produce annually. If you’re unable to volunteer your time but looking to support the mission of Hobbs Farm while supporting your health, purchase a Community Supported Agriculture membership to receive farm-fresh produce weekly. The farm also runs a farm-stand during the warmer weather. For more information, visit https://hobbsfarm.info.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is a valuable resource for new and experienced gardeners. In speaking with Roxanne Zimmer, the community horticulture specialist, I learned the cooperative extension offers a variety of learning opportunities at public libraries and you don’t need to be a patron of that library to attend. For anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener, CCE Suffolk will be accepting applications for their 16-week training program until January 31. More info can be found at ccesuffolk.org/gardening/community-gardens-in-suffolk-county.

Joining the Three Village Garden Club is another wonderful way to learn more about horticulture. They offer a variety of classes, gatherings, and exhibits. The club dates back almost a century and will resume its meetings at the Setauket Neighborhood House in early spring. More info to come soon. 

Reduce Your Meat and Dairy Intake

The animal agriculture industry produces more greenhouse gases than the world’s vehicle exhaust. Aside from this, natural habitats worldwide, including the oxygen-producing rainforests in South America, are being torn down to create pastures for livestock to graze in, dislocating thousands of native species. By partaking in “Meatless Mondays” or simply reducing your meat and dairy intake all-around, you can be part of a worldwide movement to slow the progress of global warming and depletion of the ozone layer. 

Vegan Artichoke Spinach Fettuccine

Reducing your intake of red meat and other animal products has also been scientifically proven to have a plethora of health benefits. Some of these include reduced risk of having a stroke, heart disease, and obesity. Challenge yourself to get creative in the kitchen with vegan and vegetarian recipes with the produce you purchase at local farmers’ markets. Take advantage of the fabulous, free cooking classes presented by our local libraries featuring vegetarian cuisine ranging from veggie stromboli at Middle Country Public Library to vegetable empanadas at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Check out your local library’s webpage for more information.

Pay it Forward

Reflect and give thanks by donating to a cause that embraces what’s important to you. Being charitable is not only a gift to others but a gift to yourself. According to multiple studies from around the globe, generous behavior is linked to a happier, healthier, more satisfying, and less stressful life. Whether you make a monetary contribution, a donation of goods, or choose to volunteer your time, there are plenty of local charities that would be grateful for your support. Here are some ideas to consider.

Have some clothing or furniture you no longer use? Angela’s House is a non-profit which assists families with medically frail children and will gladly accept these items for their fundraising Home Store located in Medford. Visit https://www.angelashouse.org to learn more about their mission and ways you can help. Looking for a way to help furry friends? There are many ways to support Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station, including financially, assisting with animal care, and donating items from their Wish List. See https://www.saveapetli.net for more information. 

Interested in donating to an organization that benefits many causes? The Harry Chapin Foundation in Huntington awards grants to charities supporting agriculture, the arts, education, and environmental causes. Donate through their website at https://harrychapinfoundation.org. 

In saying goodbye to 2021, let us welcome the new year with these simple, yet impactful resolutions for a happier and healthier you, an even stronger community, and a greener Earth. Happy New Year, everyone!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

What do you get when you combine a fun, learning experience full of incredible creatures with a festive, homemade craft fair? Magic and fun for the whole family!

The festival took place at Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown on December 4. I arrived with my family a little after dusk, eager to see the rescue animals and browse the tents full of artwork and handicrafts. Vendors’ booths were spread out across the lawn, sparkling with colorful fairy lights and candles, and decked with festive garlands. 

Smiling festival-goers walked around sipping hot chocolate, visiting the shops, and meeting the ambassador animals, accompanied by friendly and knowledgeable Sweetbriar volunteers. The upbeat music of local ska and pop-punk cover band Crisis Crayons contributed to the cheerful atmosphere.

Many of the vendors I met with sold nature-related goods and artwork. For instance, Audra Donroe is an art teacher and creator from Northport. Her vibrant and stunning display of work ranged from original artwork and prints to postcards and ornaments utilizing natural imagery such as owls and plant life. She grew up coming to Sweetbriar and has been vending for 4 years. “Any chance I have to bring awareness and support to Sweetbriar, I gladly do it,” she says.

I also visited a booth selling organic, homemade elderberry syrup. It was run by the business’s founders, Connor and Tommy, aged 7 and 9, and their parents. I spoke with their mother, Michelle Biddle, who explained that elderberry is a natural remedy for cold and allergy symptoms.  

Other vendors included Once Upon A Favor, who were selling irresistibly aromatic bath bombs, soaps, and candles, and Beast Makers, who sold one-of-a-kind jewelry and occult items made out of ethically sourced animal bones and antlers.

Throughout the event, volunteers from the Center gave presentations about some of the animals who are permanent residents there. Guests met Opal the Virginia Opossum, Seven of Nine the Barred Owl, Stitch the Red-tailed Hawk, Nebula the Barn Owl, and more. Sweetbriar provides care for over 100 animals.  For many of them, Sweetbriar is their forever home as they cannot be released back into the wild due to their injuries.

According to Sweetbriar’s program coordinator, Veronica Sayers, the Holiday Party is an annual event that has taken place for around 40 years. Veronica explained that vendors pay a fee to take part in the event, and the proceeds go towards food and other vital resources for the animals Sweetbriar rehabilitates and cares for.

The event itself was free for visitors, although donations were appreciated. If you are interested in donating to help support the Center’s work and the animals in their care, please see their website for more details on how to do so. Other ways to show your support include spreading the word about Sweetbriar and attending their upcoming events. These include the Owl Prowl on December 9, weekly yoga classes, and the Superheroes of the Sky raptor event on January 1st.

Come visit Sweetbriar and be mesmerized by the incredible animals yourself! The Nature Center and Preserve at 62 Eckernkamp Drive in Smithtown are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please call 631-979-6344 or visit sweetbriarnc.org.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

In the words of Patty Yantz, the Setauket Artists “are a group of people who see the beauty in the Long Island area and celebrate it through their artwork.” At their 41st annual art exhibition at the Neighborhood House in Setauket, they encourage the public to come celebrate with them.

I visited the show on Oct. 24, the grand opening of the exhibit. From the moment I walked through the door, I was captivated by the beauty of the artwork that filled every room. Members of the Setauket Artists gathered around to take in each other’s masterpieces and mingle with their fellow painters. The art that adorned the house ranged from landscapes to still lifes to portraits and each one displayed the artists’ mastery of color, form, and line.

I was instantly immersed in the joyful, artsy energy that emanated from both paintings and painters. It was inspirational to witness the sheer artistic talent of our community, and to meet some of the local artists themselves.

To kick off the grand opening of the show, the guests were ushered into the Neighborhood House’s ballroom where administrators of the organization made a speech in gratitude to long-time benefactor Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Homes, and their president and curator, Irene Ruddock. They also praised Patty Yantz, the honored artist of the show.

A high school art teacher for 34 years, Patty Yantz has belonged to the Setauket Artists group for about 16 years. She was selected as the honored artist for the exhibit because of her “brave contribution (of artwork) to the show.” Some of her works in the exhibit include “Sundown Serenity” and “Mystical Meadow,” both landscape paintings which utilize vibrant colors and leading lines that draw the observer right into the picturesque settings.

Later that day, I spoke with Robert Roehrig, vice president of the Setauket Artists, whose work is also featured at the exhibit. His life-like oil paintings on display depict the historic charm and natural splendor of the nearby Frank Melville Memorial Park in winter. He started painting with oils 15 years ago and his paintings are inspired by “the beauty of nature, interesting buildings, and light and shadow.”

The Setauket Artists was founded by Flo Kemp four decades ago as a community for artists in the Setauket area. Since then, it has grown to include members from all over Suffolk County. The group hosts annual spring and autumn art shows.

Their autumn exhibition will be open to the public until Nov. 14 and is welcoming guests from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. As it is a fundraising event, the artwork displayed is available for purchase and a percentage of the proceeds will go toward the Setauket Neighborhood House. If you plan to visit, please be respectful of COVID-19 guidelines and wear a mask inside the house.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

After British General Charles Cornwallis famously surrounded during the Battle of Yorktown — the last battle of the American Revolution — he returned home to England. During a dinner party in London, he was questioned about the significant defeat.

“General Washington did not out-battle us,” he replied to the inquiry, “He out-spied us.”

The spies which he referred to were almost certainly the Culper Spy Ring, a network of daring Patriots, many of whom lived here in Setauket, who supplied the Continental Army with invaluable intelligence. Some of its members included Abraham Woodhull, Anna Smith Strong, Caleb Brewster, and Robert Townsend.

The Three Village Historical Society’s Graveyard Tour enveloped me in our community’s rich history as I listened to the heroic tales of these brave spirits and others. On the crisp, autumn evening of October 23, volunteers Rick Melidosian, Pat Galaskas, and Nikkeya Bell led our group of 20 through the cemeteries of the Presbyterian Church of Setauket and the Caroline Church to visit some of the historic figures buried there. 

The lantern-lit tour began at dusk as a cool breeze swept through the village. Vibrant autumn foliage and a fleeting shower contributed to the alluring old-world ambiance of the darkening churchyard.

Our guides recounted the extraordinary stories of many Patriot heroes, including the tavern owner and spy, Austin Roe, Long Island’s Paul Revere. During the war, he was a courier who made the 110-mile journey from Setauket to New York City and back on horseback in order to deliver intelligence once a week. The journey was a dangerous one, as the roads he took were full of highwaymen and patrolling British redcoats who would stop and question him. Using the cover of buying supplies for his tavern to dismiss prying questions about his frequent travels, Roe successfully transmitted intelligence from Robert Townsend and passed it along to Abraham Woodhull.

Anecdotes of the courageous Anna Smith Strong captivated the audience as well. She utilized a secret code by hanging petticoats and handkerchiefs on a clothesline to relay vital information from Woodhull to their fellow spy and whaleboat captain Caleb Brewster. Brewster then made the treacherous journey across the Long Island Sound, at the time also known as the Devil’s Belt, to provide intel to General Washington himself.  Anna lived in the family manor on Strong’s Neck, only minutes from where the tour was held that evening. In fact, centuries later, her descendants still reside there, guide Pat Galaskas explained.

As the fundraiser came to a close, I spoke with some of the individuals who volunteer with the Three Village Historical Society. Author and TVHS historian Bev Tyler shared what it was like working with the Society for over 45 years. He said the two things he most enjoys about being their historian are “…people who ask lots of questions and are very enthusiastic, and the research.” Tour guide and TVHS volunteer for over 15 years Rick Melidosian most enjoys getting to share his knowledge about history with others.

The Three Village Historical Society is currently looking for volunteer help for various positions, including docents, costumed actors, and guides. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact TVHS Creative Services Manager, Mari Irizarry, at [email protected]. See their Facebook or Instagram pages or visit tvhs.org to find out more about upcoming events and experiencing their museum which recently opened its doors to the public for tours during the week.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

For almost a century, the Three Village Garden Club has been uniting the community with its passion for flora, education, and support for worthy causes.

On September 17, I attended the Garden Club’s “See you in September!” flower show at the Neighborhood House in Setauket. As I entered, I was instantly entranced by the vibrant floral displays decorating every corner of the historic building. Delicate, brightly colored arrangements adorning the fireplace mantle and tables welcomed me into the exhibit. This welcome was mirrored by the warmhearted hospitality of the club members.

Joan Roehrig, a member of the club for ten years, offered to give me a tour. She explained that each division of the show, Horticulture, Educational, and Design, as well as some special exhibitions, were meticulously judged by experts earlier that day. In addition to the members’ contributions to the show, the club was very grateful for the floral designs donated by local florists, including James Cress, Village Florist and Events Stony Brook, Setauket Floral Design, and Stop & Shop’s Floral Designs by Jennifer.

Our first stop on the tour was the Horticulture room, which was organized into spectacular arrangements of perennials, annuals, herbs, fruits, and vegetables all grown in the members’ backyards. The Best in Show for this category was Patricia Bany’s exquisite combination planting of succulents.  

In the Educational division, there were multiple displays regarding various floral topics, including native plants and the history of the Garden Club. Not only were they informative, but they were also so elegantly presented. The Best in Show for this division was a comprehensive, educational project board and floral arrangements piece by Donna Hill. Entitled “Floral Design Techniques,” it displayed numerous methods used in flower arranging.

The Design category consisted of multiple sub-divisions, including Multi-Rhythmic, Tapestry, Table Centerpieces, and Art Interpretation classifications. Each piece radiated creativity and innovation. Arrangements varied in style from classical to contemporary, and each displayed a strong proficiency in their craft. The Best in Show for Design was earned by Vikki Bellias.

As I spoke to the participants in the show, they were eager to share their knowledge and love for flora and the Garden Club. Joan expressed one of her favorite experiences with the club has been the December Greenery Boutique. It’s an annual event where members gather during the holidays to create festive wreaths and decorations, later to be sold to the community.

Martina Matkovic, a member for about 6 years, described how the members regularly meet over tea and sandwiches to discuss various matters and attend lectures together. This teatime tradition goes back almost a century to the times of Jennie Melville, the club’s founder in the 1920s. From its inception, the club played an important role in the community through local beautification and support for causes such as employment during the Depression and clean water availability. Later, they took part in war relief efforts during World War II. The club continues to support environmental and educational movements and even offers horticulture scholarships and camps to students. 

The Three Village Garden Club is always looking for new members. No green thumb or gardening experience is required, as it is an educational group. If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact the club’s president, Karin Ryon at (631) 813-5390.