Column: Thanksgiving was much more than a meal

12/01/2011 4:00 AM |

It was a Thanksgiving feast, all right. And I’m not just talking about the ab/fab meal the Olsen and Gustavson clans enjoyed on Thursday afternoon. I’m talking about the moveable feast of activities we experienced over the long holiday weekend.

I suppose such opportunities are available elsewhere, but I’d like to think some of them were unique to the North Fork.

Shelter Island is considered part of the North Fork, isn’t it? I’ve never really known the definitive answer to that question, and I’d appreciate some reader feedback to [email protected]. Opinions, please.

Shelter Island is invoked here because our holiday weekend began there Thursday morning, with the traditional Turkey Day walk at Mashomack Preserve, one of my Top 10 Favorite Places on Earth. The day dawned bright and beautiful, and we were joined by some two dozen friends and their family members who have come to savor this tradition as well.

We came away from the four-mile hike with many indelible images — including low tea on the beach and Baxter Townsend going for a brisk dip in Smith Cove — but the following two stand out:

1. The incredible foresight of original benefactor, Katherine Ordway, The Nature Conservancy and others who successfully sought to protect Mashomack from development in 1980 and

2. the fact that we’ve seen more deer in our driveway in Orient this fall than we’ve seen in 30-plus years of walking the trails of Mashomack. Go figure.

Thursday afternoon was, of course, dedicated to The Family Meal, the highlight of which was the succulent turkey provided by Erik’s Breakfast and Lunch on the North Road in Southold. I’m not normally a big fan of turkey (dry and tasteless, unless deep fried or prepared turducken-style by chef John Ross), but I’d say it might be time to change the name to Erik’s Breakfast and Lunch and Thanksgiving Feast.

Friday’s highlight was the alumni basketball game at Greenport High School, organized to fund scholarships in memory of former GHS students Michael Brown, Cory Freeman and Naquawn Treadwell. There was a lot of huffing and puffing going on out there on the court, but some of the alums still “have game,” as they say, most notably the tight team of ex-players from Mattituck High School and Greenport grads Matt Duell and Ryan Creighton.

Duell, who played on the men’s varsity team at St. John’s University, looks like he still could contribute to many a Division I program. And Creighton, despite the pounds he’s put on since his graduation in 2009, could and should be playing college basketball this winter. That he won’t be is, at least in part, the latest example of Greenport High School’s historic failure to mentor beyond graduation some of its most outstanding athletes.

The sport Saturday was soccer, specifically the Nassau-Suffolk Exceptional Seniors Games at Dowling College in Shirley. It featured two outstanding players from the North Fork — Brian Cassidy of Southold and Austin Scoggin of Mattituck — and they did not disappoint. Scoggin played the entire game in goal and Cassidy helped anchor a stingy defense from his left fullback position.

Fittingly for an all-star game, the match ended in a 2-2 tie, and I predict both players soon will be hearing from one or more of the college scouts in attendance Saturday.

By Sunday evening, when the former Joan Giger Walker and I enjoyed another outstanding meal at The Farmhouse on Front Street, the streets of Greenport had begun to take on an off-season appearance. In fact, The Farmhouse closed for the season that very night, and I suspect many other businesses have begun hunkering down for a long winter’s nap.

It’s a “sign of the season,” of course, but also, I fear, a “sign of the times.”

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