Community Columns

Lombardi Column: Much can be said about four little letters

Wells Homestead Farmstand in Aquebogue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)
Wells Homestead Farmstand in Aquebogue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Well, here we are again. It’s September, back-to-school time on our North Fork. Teachers in many classrooms will ask youngsters to write a few paragraphs describing their summer vacations. And those youngsters will groan and then settle down, attempting to use big, important-sounding words, trying to impress their teacher. 

May I suggest that the young writers use as many little words, four-letter words, as possible. No, not those words, not the words heard on many TV shows and in movies, those ugly words thrown about so freely. I’m suggesting other four-letter words, words that speak so well of our fork.

Think FARM, for instance. Happily, a farm is not a rarity on the North Fork. Rows of vegetables, carefully planted, gratefully harvested. We see where our food comes from and that is a good thing. Then we taste it. That’s even better.

One of those vegetables is a noble four-letter word. CORN. Tall and stately, in the field its regal golden color commands attention. Whether simmered, roasted or prepared as a chowder, corn is a part of North Fork life.

After a big meal of corn, try another North Fork four-letter word. WALK. Our students can write of walks along the beach. Bare feet in the water, of course, but eyes searching for shells or beach glass. Breezes ruffle hair, birds dive for fish. Yes, that’s got to be a favorite little North Fork word. FISH.

Now if our students did some fishing during vacation, they probably spent some time on a BOAT. A small word indeed, but promising big excitement. Even a rowboat will do. While out on that boat, a quick SWIM is in order. Swim and the North Fork are synonymous.

Off the boat, off the Sound or bay, our fisherman will search for a bit of shade. So find a TREE. We treasure ’em here on the North Fork, whether they are newly planted or have been sheltering us for years. Then look again in the fall, when the leaves are rust and gold. Even in winter, a tree’s bare branches sustain us. We see them outlined against a cold, gray sky but we know always the tree will bud again. There seems to be a second chance for everything.

If all this activity works up a summer thirst, and you are of a certain age, then chilled North Fork WINE is available, for sure. And with a few new breweries out our way, a frosty BEER is a happy possibility. Too young for those drinks? Don’t despair. Stop in any North Fork ice cream shop and treat yourself to a good old ice cream SODA. From Riverhead to Orient you’ll find every flavor imaginable. In truth, I suppose there are some four-letter flavors available but coffee ice cream remains my love. Wait a minute. Isn’t JAVA another word for coffee? A four-letter ice cream and you can find it all over the North Fork.

It’s got to be obvious our North Fork four-letter words provide a respite from offensive pop culture words. Moreover, they provide us with a quality of life the North Fork offers. A life of HELP, HOME, LOVE.

Finally, consider this. The use of four-letter words provides a clarity not found in all those uppity legal documents and government forms using big words. And students, remember teachers are regular folks. Really. They appreciate writing free of pomposity and arrogance. Bet a few four-letter North Fork summer words get you some good grades.

If that isn’t enough, just think about other four-letter words and the North Fork in winter, especially last February. SNOW.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

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