Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on the Long Island of my youth

For the first several years of my life we were living in Massachusetts. When we traveled to Long Island from Massachusetts my Dad would drive to New London, Connecticut and take the ferry to Orient Point. Orient Point is at the end of the northern fork of Long Island. If memory serves, the drive to East Setauket was about one hour. I seem to recall that the area we drove through was predominantly farmland until we got just east of Port Jefferson. Depending on our exact route, it is possible that we may have driven along the northern edge of the Long Island Pine Barrens.

When I was fourteen we moved to Maryland and approached Long Island from the west, through Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens before getting to Nassau and then Suffolk county. When we got to my Grandparent’s house, we spent most of the time in the immediate area of East Setauket. So, it was not until I was in my late twenties that I went for a drive east, retracing some of the route to Orient Point. I had a desire to revisit the farmlands and open space that I remembered from my childhood.

I was in for an awakening. I drove to Port Jefferson and proceeded east. Port Jefferson was the same. The area east of Port Jefferson was not. New housing developments, shopping centers, and office complexes were built where open space once stood. After about 30 minutes of this, I turned around and went back. I don’t think that I made it as far as the northern edge of the Pine Barrens.

Speaking of the Long Island Pine Barrens, I never thought about them much when I was younger. Depending on our route, I may have only seen them a couple of times, and I don’t think we ever did more than drive by. They were so different from the forests of northern New England that I may not have even recognized them as forests.

I do remember driving out to eastern Long Island in the summer of 1994 and seeing the Pine Barrens from the highway. I knew that they were something special. But we did not get out to visit them. I regret that. We have not been back since.

copyright 2008 K. Tyler Miller

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