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Hamptons Life

Feb 18, 2010 12:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Braving the toughest winter months

Feb 18, 2010 12:54 PM

It’s February in the Hamptons. The warm fuzzy feelings of Christmas are mere flickering fairy lights in the dusty corners of our memories. New Year’s resolutions have all been broken, most meeting an ugly fate by mid-January. The Super Bowl is over, giving Sundays back to families once again. And summer is stretching its long fingers towards us, teasing us in a skimpy bikini that is just out of reach.

This is a time many of us find ourselves wishing we were somewhere else. Somewhere warm perhaps. Or perhaps somewhere at least where all the shops remain open year-round.

February in the Hamptons, either you hate it or you tolerate it. Though I’m still not a big fan of the weather, I’ve learned to tolerate it.

While I haven’t learned to love February and March any more than when I first settled on the East End, I have learned to use the time better by turning my gaze and attention inward. Inward toward myself, inward toward my family, and inward toward our community.

The seasonal pace of life on the East End can be quite disjointing, especially to business owners who are trying to capture a year’s worth of income in three short months. As a result, we spend nine months every year getting ready for a three-month onslaught in which we need to make our fortunes.

Inevitably we are never happy with what the summer produces—expectations being dashed by too many rainy weekends or a faltering stock market. In reality, the Hamptons has two seasons: apprehension and mayhem.

What I have learned to do to combat those nine months of preparation and apprehension, is to take the greyest, dreariest two of those long months— February and March—and to make them mine. I focus on my house, I focus on my family, I focus on my friends, and I focus on myself. Because without earmarking special time for concentration on what’s important in our lives, we risk losing ourselves to the resort rat race.

Focusing time on ourselves and our immediate circles also helps make a better community. This time strengthens our families, it helps keep our schools rich and vibrant for our children and makes the Hamptons a more

colorful and sound place to live. Good and strong communities start with good strong individuals. Strong individuals are those who take time out for themselves.

So this month, treat yourself to a huge bowl of peppermint ice cream at the Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton. Go to that three-hour yoga class that you have always wanted to attend at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor. Make an appointment at Naturopathica in East Hampton for a massage.

Maybe you’d rather focus your energies homeward, inward or on the family unit. So pick up that dusty copy of “Moby Dick” that you have been postponing finishing and pull up the easy chair. Pull out the boxes of photographs and start organizing them into albums. Or perhaps go to morning program at your child’s school.

While you might question how all these things are strengthening our community, it’s really simple. They make you happier, which makes your friends and family happier, which makes those around you happier. It’s obvious when you think about it that way.

I make a special effort during February and March to shop only at local stores. It is a notoriously hard task for business owners to weather the off-season out here, but with a little help from all of us, we can get them through the winter. It is not something big to ask, not something that should be difficult, but a little step that can mean a tremendous amount to all of us. It will make you feel better as well, just watch.

Get to know all the shop owner’s names; see how it makes you feel when they greet you by name the following week. That is what makes life rich and what we need to nurture here on the East End.

A few Sundays ago while I was watching the Super Bowl, I was struck by something outside of Drew Brees’ unbelievable performance: the unconquerable spirit and determination of the citizens of New Orleans. How a community so devastated by a natural disaster a few years back could rally behind a team that should never have gotten as far as they did, led by a quarterback who many had written off to injuries, and conquered perhaps the best quarterback in football, perhaps in history.

It was indomitable spirit that won the Super Bowl. It was determination and spirit that helped David conquer Goliath. Without New Orleans, the Saints were just another football team. Drew Brees was the first to acknowledge this.

Similarly, without all of us, the East End is just another summer resort. Sure the beaches are magnificent, but it is also the local community which attracts the hordes of people every summer. As a community, we need to stay in shape. And these few cold months are for our personal training. Stay warm.

Peter Sabbeth is the owner of Modern Green Home, a Sag Harbor-based design and construction company.

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