After Tumbleweed Tuesday, a bittersweet quality blankets the Hamptons. You can hear a collective sigh of relief over being able to find a parking place so you don’t arrive at yoga in a murderous rage. You can safely walk down the grocery store aisles without being run over by the careening shopping cart of a distracted texter, or have a peaceful ice cream cone without feeling like you are in danger of the pint-sized body snatchers. Yet you are not ready to turn in your flip-flops for socks and shoes, cease your morning coffee looking at sailboats in the wharf, or say goodbye to a warm breeze to toast the sunset. You may even want to, god forbid, wear white after Labor Day.
September arrives with cleansing energy, a crisp quality to the air, and a distinctive light and shadow.
Indian summer is described as a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather and dates back to 1778 when the Native Americans who lived on the Eastern seaboard used to depend on fine, quiet, sunny weather to complete the harvest. We are lucky that the local farm stands are still in peak bounty with a cornucopia of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. And yes, plenty of tomatoes to finally make grandma’s sauce.
Another meaning of Indian summer from the 1830s is any late flowering following a period of decline. In 1834, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in his poem, “Memories,” about “the Indian summer of the heart!” For those who felt the summer was an astrological and earthly clusterf**k where your gardenia put out beautiful buds but never bloomed (despite all the pH balancing of the soil), this is your time to put that behind you and shine.
The September soul prescription includes nature, music, books, and body work. We have some stunning gardens, which are still a green oasis to calm the mind. You can get lost in LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, a 16-acre sculpture garden with diverse places to sit and meditate. It is secluded, peaceful, and romantic and is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It’s a secret that should be shared. Music also soothes the soul and locals look forward to the Sag Harbor American Music Festival September 26 to 29, where Main Street is a hub of everything from blues, rock, Latin, reggae, and jazz to a 30-piece percussion band. Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack also brings back its Candlelit Fridays for live music at the main tasting room, a perfect attitude adjustment for the end of the week.
Without the heat and humidity and hair that grows like a Chia Pet, yoga outdoors is a unique pleasure. One Ocean Yoga in a tent in the lush green fields of Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton provides the best downward-dog view in town. And for anyone who hasn’t tried restorative yoga, it is a great way to introduce your overworked, over-social media, just-plain-over-it self to a safe, quiet space. The Urban Zen classes at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor combine comfortable restorative poses using props with essential oil and energy work.
As a writer, I know my great soul solace is in a good book. Thank goodness independent bookstores are still alive here in the Hamptons. A hidden oasis above Division Street in Sag Harbor is Berry & Co. Books, which has a carefully curated selection of great reads and even has a porch to sit with tea and sympathy. And if you need to do a ritual to dispel any negative energy, it sells amazing dried flower/sage wands to smudge anything that doesn’t serve you.
And of course, there is the ocean, the great mother goddess healer of all. It belongs to everyone, and it is free. There is still time to put your toes in the sand, and splash in the waves and have, if only for a few moments, your Indian summer of the heart.