Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fruit frenzy on Fire Island (and the Iron Sheik)

Last week I took a short trip to Fire island, which is off the southern coast of Long Island. The getting there was hectic, a direct consequence of my preference for not planning things. Long story short, the rain, the traffic on I95, and my late start from the Cape all added up to my making the 6pm ferry from new London in seconds, literally, and then plunking down and realizing I had no clue how to get from the ferry landing spot, Orient Point, which might more aptly be called Nowhere Point, to Bay Shore from where I would take the final ferry to Fire Island. I was banking on the goodwill of one girl who heard my plight and seemed to be viciously iphone chatting her mom to convince her I was OK (so i imagined) but at the end, she said no. So I went to the bar and the pet lounge, two places on the ferry where one might find some trusting humans, and struck out there too. It was late and pouring, and just as I was glumly leaving the ferry, a woman offered me a lift. She had been in the bar and initially said no, or rather, said nothing, but she mulled it over and decided to help me out. She got me to fire island that night and she restored my sinking faith in humanity. Her name was Jean.

When I finally got to the ferry to take me the final mile, I was completely fried and had 30 minutes to kill. So I went into Nicky’s Clam bar and ordered a Jameson “neat” and this was just the start of having people look at me (and soon brian and jordan) as if we were from another planet. The bartender had no idea what neat meant, neither did his two drinking buddies, the only other occupants of the bar. I was tired so had trouble defining it (“you know…neat”) finally one of the bartender’s buddies said “Oh..straight up!”  It wasn’t over at that though. I think he had never poured the drink that way, and he filled up and entire highball glass with the stuff. Well, waste-not, down it went. From a series of half-drunk-fully-tired art photos taken on the way over:

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Asking for vegan food on Fire Island was equally confusing. We ended up eating a lot of low budget toast, some fruit, and gorging on black cherries as we walked the path. When Brian and Jordan and I hang out, we often chat about veganism and such, and the rampant waste all around us, and on our final breakfast out we were beside a couple who each ordered the 19 egg omelet, so we got a little excited. I squirmed around for a while until finally I went right for the jugular: “Miss, my friend’s and I recently are experimenting with freeganism… … …so…. if you are not going to finish that omelet we gladly will.” They were quite nice about it and happy to hand it over, so down it went. plus their home fries cooked in butter, and their biscuit. Ah the sweet taste of rescued diner food.

Fire Island itself is an interesting blend of get-me-out-of-here teenage vacation wasteland, cool beach architecture, and a compact nature refuge. The plants I was most interested in were the beach plums which were just getting ripe and the plump omnipresent black cherries, but I nibbled some early autumn olives and a handful of blackberries too.  The deer on the island walk the little paths and eat people’s gardens and seem to have a pretty nice existence, except for the battering of the ticks and the other fact that they seem to be hated by everyone on the island. They didn’t bother me, although one of their foodstuffs did: I got poison ivy on my left ankle…almost made it a year p.i. free, no such luck. Better than on my fingers though.

Aside from the adventures of trying to be vegan on Fire island, we did a lot of walking around. Some yoga on a fallen phone pole:

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After brian and jordan left, I saddled up with the Gregor’s for more Fire Island fun. Mark Gregor has single-handedly provided me with all sorts of fun in the past couple weeks. A velir work party to cirque-de-soleil OVO (every time I see cirque, I am reminded just how lame my yoga is compared to what these people do. also every time i see cirque, it is because mark has an extra ticket), a company 10th year anniversary celebration at DeCordova, which ended in a night dip in the adjacent pond, and then fire island, staying at a house that had a pizza oven installed in the kitchen. Here’s a night-shot of the DeCordova.

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My contributions to dinners were a beach plum tart (a winner) and a black cherry cake  (a loser) and a non-foraged past dish, but why talk about that…I mean, it’s too easy when the food isn’t foraged. here are mark and angie’s children, jacob and mia, after eating non-foraged, possibly even non-earthly, foods.

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Orient Point, which was dark and stormy on my first visit, was beautiful on my way home. It was the end of a 40 mile bike ride through the northern fork of Long Island  -  wine country!…which means also wild grape country. I had a few minutes to kick around before the ferry back to New London, and gathered some seaweed and found a killer apple tree right at the meeting of a small wooded area and the beach, not something i expected.

Preceding the fire island trip was a quick one to the cape and vineyard since my brother’s family was on the vineyard. I rolled into Oak Bluffs and immediately got comments on my wacky Hawaiian shirt, and then many more as I proceeded to munch on the sea rocket, the mustards, the rose hips (or, tomatoes and Sam calls them), fallen apples and pears, some beach plums, and some seaweed, which I had chewed up and was ready to swallow when Mike told me that the bay was closed for swimming the other day due to bacteria or something.

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Black cherry tree that we just had to stop for in the oak Bluffs graveyard.

Yesterday, Rob, Anna, and Nadin and I headed back to the South Shore for the Marshfield fair. I expected this to be a walk down memory lane, but as we kicked around the fair (for about 4 hours…it was great!) I sort of concluded I’d never been there. Or at least I couldn’t remember it at all. I couldn’t remember the demolition derby, the wrestling ring, the largest pumpkin contest (over 1/2 a ton, whoa), the pigs, chickens, rabbits, llama, water buffalo. The vortex, the Lance Gifford magic show, the completely non-scary fun houses. I mean, this place had everything (except fruit trees, have I complained about that before? - enough with the oaks and the maples for god’s sakes). It turned out to be more difficult to hand off the stuffed animals than it was to win them. And finally, it turned out you don’t just take a picture with the Iron Sheik for free, you have to pay $20, which we did. I mean this was crazy. There sat the Iron Sheik, at a folding table off in the distance, alone, a wrestling career far behind him. Just as depressing as the movie The Wrestler paints the picture of amateur wrestling and the life of again wrestlers.  All this and single wrinkly string bean with a first prize bean winner ribbon on it. Tonight is the last night of the fair for this year, kind of sad. Already looking forward to next year. 

A recent d-dive haul (is that queso fresco, fully sealed up there? yep.):

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