Gazarian Column: The pleasures of springtime in Orient

Spring, spring, spring, where have you been? Our dear North Fork is dressing up for you, waking from silent winter to hear your voices. Gardens are shrugging off the burden of dark late afternoons.

Five p.m., the surprise of daylight at this hour. A gift. Just a few weeks ago 5 p.m. was a dark zone. Walking the dog with a flashlight, rabbits invisible, raccoons, perhaps ready for explorations. Our Irish friend Marie, born on a farm in County Longford, is eagerly waiting for leaves to grow and flowers to bloom. She may even parachute from a plane as she has done, once, for pleasure.

Another year gone by. We are alive. Time to get the garden tools out of the old shed. Dust and spiderwebs. Lawn mowers in yellow or green will purr and growl. The air so crisp and cool. Back into the house, a hot chocolate or a cup of tea and out again to plant and rake and feel good about it.

I’ve been away. Now, coming home, I hit the gravel of the driveway. I’m back, I have arrived. A couple of deer are waiting for me. I like their welcome. I know, I know, not everyone will cheer at their sight. Yes, they do eat what some of us have grown. But children marvel at them. The way they fly through the air, the way they look at us with curiosity and concern. Their beauty.

It’s been over half a century since my brother, Jean, my only brother, rode his bicycle from New York to Orient. He didn’t know the North Fork. It was love at first sight. He took the train back to New York and told us, “You must come to Orient with me.”

Jean had pedaled some one hundred miles. He had crossed many Long Island towns and villages, some quite attractive. Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson … but he fell in love with Orient, that little hamlet facing Gardiners Bay and its sailboats. He spent the night in one of Betty King’s Bay House cottages, turned around the next morning and we all climbed in our old 1940 two-tone gray Dodge. We fell in love, too.

When I’m heading east on the causeway, Long Island Sound on my left, Gardiners Bay on my right, the sea everywhere, and I go down Village Lane, driving slowly by the Country Store and our little post office, (I have a box there), New York City is so far away. It’s not just the miles. It’s beyond miles and distance. It’s another time in our life. Before we get to Village Lane my dog, Nina, wakes up from a two-hour sleep. She knows. Years ago my dog Lady would perk up as well, ready for action and the never-fulfilled hope of catching a rabbit.

My house. How incredible to possess a little plot of land. It’s mine, this half-acre of trees and grass, earth and gravel. For years Bill Wysocki has come with his big truck and mowed the lawn. The bracing smell of cut grass.

In New York City for a medical visit. Now it’s past midnight. Orient on my mind. I’ve been away too long. My sister and I will celebrate Easter in Orient. Just the two of us. And the three dogs: Nina and my sister’s dogs, Schnitzel and Beauty Belle, two black and tan mini dachshunds. Schnitzel had been my close Orient friend Rita Martinsen’s dog.

Another holiday without my wife, Nancy. It’s lonely to be alone. My first Easter without my brother, Jean. We were 5 when we arrived in New York from Paris over half a century ago. And we were five in Orient. Now, it’s just my sister and me.

Shall I open the pool? I last opened it for Nancy. She jumped in it and covered its 40-foot length in elegant strokes. Since then it’s been under a dark green cover. Seagulls walk on it and a raccoon, once, came and went.

I drive by my sister’s house on King Street, then up Willow Terrace Lane and hear the sound of gravel in my driveway. Two, three hours, New York City left behind. So good to be here. Tomorrow, a walk to the post office and the Orient Country Store. Nina will bark at deer and rabbits. And I will let her free in my fenced-in yard.

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected].