As I write this, East Enders are still recovering from what was surely the most stressful Election Season in a century. It is difficult, through this palpably thick veil of anxiety, to focus on anything one might be thankful for. And yet, finding that place of gratitude is all the more important this year.
For one, I am deeply grateful for the spectacular ecological beauty and agricultural fertility of where I live. And thankful that my children (unlike in my school days) have been taught that we modern-day “Hamptonites” enjoy this area courtesy of a People who farmed and protected it for thousands of years before us, and from whom we are still learning.
As a food writer, I could thank so many restaurants and farm stands that daily make my eating life better than it could be almost anywhere else in the country. It is flabbergasting to consider planning a meal without the assistance of Serene Green farm stand and the many Halsey and Falkowski family farms; or to be able to ditch cooking entirely and head to Almond, Estia’s Little Kitchen, Page, or even Bay Burger—all of whom serve meals with local ingredients within a 7 mile radius of my house. My favorite going-out dinner? Right now it’s Zigmunds’ eggplant dip and deviled eggs with Greek salad. My favorite farm stand lunch? Any of Serene Green’s bean salads with a Blue Duck baguette.
But I have to say that what I am really thankful for, in this season of thanksgiving, is community. I know I could not have survived the presidential debates without a crowd of like-minded locals gathered around Zigmunds’ bar for food, drink, and hilarious commentary. I couldn’t plow through my exhausting mornings without Java Nation, where my kids and I run into friends—who are often their teachers and farmers—as the sun is coming up (and where David Falkowski recently gave me some priceless advice on the new greenhouse I want to build). I cannot get through the frigid, dark winter without Artists & Writers night at Almond (a recent week’s featuring the most comforting roast chicken and fried green tomatoes), where I can always find a seat with friends and learn something incredible from that night’s host.
My generous neighbors and their egg-producing chickens; my quick-witted publisher and his dedication to farm-to-table everything; my wool-spinning friends who provide gorgeous materials for my art; my children’s schools with their Edible Schoolyards and Slow Food ties, where their classroom is the beach helping replenish dune grass with Cornell Cooperative, and their school gardens are where they learn what a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is and why it’s important to save it… the list goes on.
Our vibrant, food-loving, nature-obsessed East End community that each of us contributes to and benefits from is the beacon that will continue to guide our way, no matter what the coming year holds.