About those fly-by-night visitors on Shelter Island: Column

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Autumn on Chase Creek.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Autumn on Chase Creek.

Even if you have been utterly hardened by life, the approach to Shelter Island by boat feels like a voyage to paradise. Its beauty is obvious and when you arrive the people are nice. It’s also easy to find wholesome food and traffic is light. What more could you ask?

I should not complain. But I do, and I am not alone.

This summer several people complained of waking up — sometimes in the wee hours — to loud, festive noise, drunken people wandering in their yards and the kind of public elimination that, well, even trained dogs avoid. The Town Board is considering what, or whether, to do anything about the unlicensed, short-term rentals that seem to be the cause of these disruptions.

I’m not one of the people who have complained about the fly-by-night visitors, but now that bird migration is in full swing and the waters of nearby Chase Creek are a waterfowl-landing pad, I’m beginning to understand how disruptive they can be.

One of my neighbors runs an actual, non-air B&B, the kind with a license and smoke detectors and everything. The folks who stay at his place seem as thoughtful and neighborly as he is. But the ducks and geese with their honking and quacking and incessant V-formations are up half the night clacking. At least a few of them sound like real loons.

And what are we going to do about the threat to our way of life posed by this year’s bumper crop of chestnuts and acorns now falling from the trees? To squirrels and lovers of crème de marrons this may seem like bounty, but to me it is a broken wrist waiting to happen.

Do I have a practical solution to offer? Heck no, I just want to whine about having to walk my faithful hound Mabel across fallen acorns like a carpet of ball bearings, and down the sloping, bumpy sidewalk from STARs to First Bridge, under a hail of fresh chestnuts. I’m looking for a helmet that will fit her.

I also did a lot of kvetching this summer about a colony of hornets that took up residence under the siding of my house. Theirs was not a short-term rental. These insects arranged to have free use of our porch for the entire season, for a vanishingly low rent. Unfortunately, it was owner-occupied.

We got off easy, with only two stings, one to my ankle, (it still hurts) and one to Mabel’s dewlap. I did so much complaining about it, that my neighbor came over after dark with steel wool and stopped up the holes the insects were using to enter and exit their lodging.

I admire my neighbor, who is one of the rare breed who substitutes sensible action for complaining.

When she discovered a bat in her living room, did she call the Animal Control Officer? No, she chased it through the house with a broom until she cornered it in a tiny room off the kitchen, wrapped it in a towel and threw it out the window. Without complaint! Even the bat was grateful.

I have not been able to complain about jellyfish this year, since I haven’t seen any — at least not the kind that sting. Since I actually enjoy complaining, the scarcity of jellyfish is a sort of deprivation. Besides I’m worried that the jellyfish know something about the water (excessive algae? too many nitrates, too warm?) that I should be complaining about.

Yesterday the air was so warm and the light so golden during my walk around Chase Creek, that even though Ice Pond Park was full of goose poop, and the breeze brought down a heavy bombardment of acorns, I didn’t mind. Above me the red leaves on the ends of the maple branches were glowing and something like gratitude washed over me. As things quiet down here, maybe the urge to complain softens, too.