Woog’s World / Ways to enjoy the rest of summer
The sands of time keep slipping away.
The calendar has turned to August. Nights are slowly, but noticeably, growing longer. By the end of the month, kids will be back in school. There are just 145 days left until Christmas.
We can’t do much to stem those sands of time, but we can seize the days of summer that remain.
Despite those slipping sands, there is still time to do all those things you envisioned doing when you moved to Westport in the first place. They sounded great from your Realtor’s mouth, and you were excited to post them on Facebook, along with photos of the big packing crates in your new home. But somehow, they’ve remained elusive this summer. And every other one before it.
Now — early August — you have your chance. Here’s what you can do to enjoy the Westport of you (and your real estate agent’s) dreams.
For starters, there’s all that sand. It’s not slipping away (unless you’re at Burying Hill Beach, which is disappearing faster than ice in Antarctica). The sand is fine at Compo Beach, and now is the time to head down for the barbecue you’ve been thinking about for the past several years.
The Parks and Rec Department has upped its game recently. New grills and tables, including several with wheelchair cutouts, mean you don’t have to be there at dawn to reserve a (supposedly unreservable) South Beach table. There are more than enough to go around.
A Compo cookout is definitely different from one on your deck, or even another beach. There are enough folks nearby to feel neighborly, but everyone has their own turf.
There’s plenty for the kids to do — fishing, cannon climbing, jetty scampering, basketball, pickleball, skateboarding — and new bathrooms so they don’t have to “go” too far.
But the money shot is the sunset. It seldom disappoints. I would not go so far as a friend (okay, he’s from a flyover state) who once declared watching the sun disappear over Owenoke was “the most beautiful thing on earth.” Still, it is pretty amazing.
If looking out at the water makes you feel like being in it, you can do more than just swim. Longshore Sailing School offers rentals (take lessons first, if you’ve never sailed — I’m just sayin’). But don’t stop at sailboats. The school and DownUnder on Riverside Avenue rent kayaks, paddleboards and canoes too. If you’ve never powered yourself on the Sound or up the Saugatuck, this is your chance.
If you’ve got a friend with a kayak and a trailer, here’s another idea: Sherwood Mill Pond. Put in at the preserve on Hillspoint Road, then paddle past Hummock Island, toward Sherwood Island. Believe it or not, a tunnel takes you right to the state park. The pond is much bigger than you realize, once you’re in the middle of it. Yet civilization — I-95 and the train tracks — are still far away.
You could also kayak right up to the Levitt Pavilion. But most people drive, bringing chairs, blankets, food and wine. The sloping lawn is the perfect spot for a picnic.
The view is spectacular, the vibe is small-town, and the entertainment is varied (and very entertaining). You can’t beat the price, either: free. There are also a couple of fundraising ticketed events each year. Next up: Pat Benatar, on Aug. 27.
Entertainment of another kind is a short ways away, at the Westport Country Playhouse. A local (and national) institution for over 80 years, this is one of our town’s truly underrated gems. For whatever reason — Netflix? Facebook? Inertia? — audiences at the historic theater skew older. They shouldn’t. Productions are almost always powerful, thought-provoking and very accessible.
If you’re a Westporter and don’t support the Playhouse, please don’t boast about living in an “arts community.”
There are many more attractions to consider. Wakeman Town Farm offers intriguing programming on everything from caring for animals to how to cook them, while the Westport Farmers Market features a lot more than lettuce and tomatoes (oysters, pet food and organic ice cream, anyone?).
Speaking of ice cream: wow. It sounds kind of vanilla, but slurping a cone before it melts is one of the true pleasures of the summer. It’s also easy to miss doing, with so much else going on.
Two of the best: Saugatuck Sweets on Riverside Avenue (as old-time-ice-cream-parlor-ish as it gets), and Elvira Mae’s at Old Mill Beach with its throwback “window” and smiling scoopers.
I know I’ve missed several important spots, but I don’t care. My column is done.
I’m heading to the beach.
Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.