Spring 2021

Sunset at Main Beach in East Hampton. I love to drive down and breathe in the fresh ocean air, especially now before the weather gets warmer and tourists take over the parking lot and the beach. People walk on the sandy beach, some with their dogs; others sit on benches up on the wide wooden pavilion or stay seated in their cars, with the windows open. They watch the waves, listen to the surf, and look at the sky, cloudy or sunny. The beach is a perfect outdoor escape place during the pandemic.

Snowdrops have blossomed; the forsythia bushes have green stems and will soon show their bright yellow flowers. Daffodils are in bloom, the osprey have returned to their nests, and spring peepers can be heard near the ponds.

“The beautiful spring came; and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”

— Harriet Ann Jacobs

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”

— Gustave Mahler

I had my first vaccination shot on March 4; the next one will be on April 1. By now, so many of the people I know have had at least that first shot. I miss my son, Jeffrey, who lives in California and whom I haven’t seen since January 2020, but I may not feel ready to board airplanes for awhile. Maybe in a few months I’ll visit him, or perhaps he’ll come to New York. We can only hope we will feel safer to travel, to meet people for dinner, indoors and out, and to feel some kind of normalcy after this very long pandemic time.

The newspapers are filled with “coping stories” – interviews with people of all occupations and in all locations on how they have managed their lives during the past year. There is a lot of boredom out there, for sure, but lots of creativity, too. People taking up art or music, whatever their ages, Zooming in for yoga and other classes, sometimes with their stay-at-home children. It’s inspiring to read their stories.

I’ve taken a virtual tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, a trip along Route 66, and a walk through the historic district of Philadelphia, all online. Readings and interviews at Book Revue bookstore in Huntington, the New York Public Library, and the East Hampton Historical Society, among other venues, have kept my calendar full.

My novel, Three Rooms, Shared Bath: a Landlady in the Hamptons, is to be released by July 6. I’ve worked with a fine editor at Sunbury Press and the cover, plus graphics inside the book are up next. I’m wondering where I will be able to have book signings considering the Covid concerns. Over the past year authors have had to cancel road trips, and bookstores, libraries, and other venues switched to online presentations.

We will be back at the large, safe parish hall of the Catholic Church in Bridgehampton for our spring writing workshop. The Hampton Library is still not able to host us due to the pandemic. Starting Tuesday, April 13, from 4 – 6 p.m., our small group of writers will meet for six sessions, ending on May 18. Memoir and personal essay writing is the main focus, although several of the writers are writing fiction as well. We can accommodate a few more writers, so please let me know if you are interested in joining us. My email is eobser@yahoo.com .

“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.”

— Flannery O’Connor

“We do not write to be understood. We write in order to understand.”

— Cecil-Day Lewis

Frances Browner, of Ireland, who lived in Montauk for many years, had a lovely poem in the Irish publication, Tullamore Tribune on March 3. “Look Out for the Helpers” is the title, and it’s a thank you to all those who generously give their time and aid during the pandemic. I wish I could print the whole poem but it’s too long. A few lines: “The girl in the pharmacy who advised Paracetamol plus, should I get a fever and smiled when I also bought hair colour. I thanked her for coming to work.” Frances’s collection of poems, Roots and Wings was published last year and can be seen on Amazon.

Carol Dray, of Bridgehampton, also published a Covid-inspired work, this one as a Guestwords column in The East Hampton Star, on February 25. It’s called “The Funk I’m In” and she writes, “I long for the time when I can approach casual acquaintances and neighbors again with more than a brief wave and nod. I want to discuss the humdrum subject of weather, where to find the best cuts of meat, and who knows of a good seamstress for the clothes I’ve outgrown, but it’s still too risky. We’re all carriers of a contagion until we’re told we’re not.”

In March Carol also published a long, two-part letter to the editor in The East Hampton Star on “Unity.” Her subject again is the Covid, and she focuses on how she feels the government has been handling it. “Our media and the government have weaponized the virus so well we aren’t even recognizable as a free society anymore.” The letters and her Guestword column can be read online at the Star site.

Reflections columnist Joanne Pateman, of Southampton, wrote about her father’s recliner in The East Hampton Press on February 8. She grew up in South Philadelphia and, as a young girl, hated “the silver oxygen tank that stood guard next to the recliner. He had emphysema. I hated that he was sick.” She never wanted to own a recliner but now she does, and it’s become her “island of security, serenity and solace.” Her husband bought it for her. It “got me through recovery from knee replacement, and I am hoping it will get me through my cancer. Cancer sucks. I don’t like the fatigue after chemo treatment. I don’t like being sick.”

Another Reflections column appeared on March 23. It’s called “Fealty to the Duchess” and you can read both columns online.

In February Tom Hannon published Tales with a Twist-2:A mixology of murder, mayhem, humor, whodunits @ feel good stories, a sequel to his first Tales with a Twist.

Janet Lee Berg, of Charleston, my friend and the author of Rembrandt’s Shadow and Restitution did Zoom presentations of her books recently, one from South Carolina and the other from the Quogue Library. We haven’t met up for a long while, so it was good to see and hear her online. Her books relate to the German takeover of Holland in World War 11 and the theft of her in-laws’ large art collection by the Nazis.

Tom Clavin, of Sag Harbor, will have a new book released on April 20. Written with Bob Drury, it’s called Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier. He will be on a road tour in April and May. Last year that was not possible, when his book, Tombstone, came out.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

— Joan Didion “Why I Write,” The New York Times Magazine, 1976

Keep reading and writing. Happy Passover and Happy Easter, everyone!

Eileen