Friday, September 25, 2009

Sunrise Wedding at Montauk

Photographs by Daphne Stern

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Bride and Her Parents

The True Script

Michael Hernandez and Gabrielle Aronas

The Sunrise Wedding


Gabrielle Aronas &

Michael Hernandez

On the Camp Hero Bluffs,

Montauk Point, New York

Sunrise, 6:33 a.m., September 19, 2009

Lat/Lon: 41.048 degrees N, 71.89 degrees W

At or before the sunrise atop the Camp Hero bluffs.

(The groom and both reverends arrange themselves opposite one another as close to the precipice of the bluff as they choose to venture. A young groom’s helper, who carries both wedding rings, stands behind the groom. The sounds of the surf can be clearly heard. The onlookers arrange themselves landward as Dr. Stern stands nearby and plays pre-sunrise music on his violin.

(The parents of the bride accompany Gabrielle from the wings to the side of Michael. The parents stand to the side near their daughter.)

REVEREND SHEILA: In the presence of Great Beauty we come together to celebrate the marriage of Gabrielle Aronas and Michael Hernandez.

REV. BARNEY: Gabrielle believes in miracles. Both Sheila and I, who introduced them to each other, believe it is a true miracle that these two lively and contentious spirits learned over time to tolerate and to cherish one another. From almost the beginning, we both believed they stood a good chance to become husband and wife because we listened to them endlessly bicker and fuss at one another while they always worked wonderfully well together.

REV. SHEILA: Poetry is for weddings and Gabrielle’s good friend Simone will read a poem by Maya Angelou.

SIMONE: (Who walks up from among the onlookers and reads)

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

REV. SHEILA: This is an ancient Hindu love poem and prayer for bride and groom recited

by Michael and Gabrielle together:

"May the nights be honey-sweet for us.

"May the mornings be honey-sweet for us.

"May the plants be honey-sweet for us.

"May the earth be honey-sweet for us."

REV. BARNEY: There is a poem about love among the sonnets of

the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda

that adds heat to the honey.

(Michael’s sister Rose comes forward from among the onlookers and reads)

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations that shoots off fire.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secrecy,

between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when,

or from where.

I love you straightforwardly,

without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way than this:

Where “I” does not exist, nor “You”,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close

as I fall asleep.

REV: SHEILA: The next poem was written in Sanscrit, 
which is related linguistically to the Lithuanian language. 
Michael will read it. 
Look to this day for it is life
The very life of life in its brief course
lie all the varieties and realities of your existence
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty
For yesterday is already a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope
Look well, therefore, to this day.
(Dr. Stern plays a violin medley as the ceremony proceeds)

REV. SHEILA: I’d like to tell you how we saw Gabrielle 
and Michael meet and get together. (Impromptu.)
REV. BARNEY: For many of us, sunrise is symbolic of hope. On this day all of us are gathered here 
within sight and earshot of the Atlantic Ocean and together we hope that Gabrielle and Michael 
will help one another navigate and survive in the unpredictable seas of actual life. We hope Michael 
and Gabrielle will without fail respect one another like a sailor must always respect the sea. 
We hope they will be tender in their thoughts and their actions. We hope they will be generous 
with their time and their affections. 
REV: SHEILA: Both Michael and Gabrielle agree that 
the vows between them 
are most powerful and binding when 
they are most profoundly secret.  
(They move to the edge of the bluff and privately 
exchange vows.)
REV. SHEILA: There also will be an exchange of rings. 
(Young helper offers the rings to 
Michael and Gabrielle) 
These rings symbolize the vows they have made to one another 
and feel honor bound to keep. (They put the rings on each other.) 
REV. BARNEY: This is a marriage in harvest time. 
The fruits and flowers of the earth 
in this part of the earth are bountiful. 
It is September, and September is a special month 
for marriages. 
I’ll read a lyric about September called “Try to Remember” 
by Tom Jones from The Fantasticks:
Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.

Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That love was an ember about to billow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.

Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
The fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December, our hearts should remember
And follow.

REV. SHEILA: It is time to cut to the chase. By the power vested in me and Barney by
Benjamin Franklin’s old “Church of What’s Happening Now,” we will proceed to ask
the questions that will tie the knot for Gabrielle and Michael.
Do you Michael know of any legal impediment to this marriage?
MICHAEL: (So surpised and astounded by the very idea that 
he shouts out a startled cry and then says in earnest) No!
REV. SHEILA: Do you Gabrielle know of any legal impediment to this marriage?
REV. SHEILA: Gabrielle, do you take this man, 
Michael Hernandez, to be 
your lawful wedded husband?
REV. BARNEY: Do you, Michael, take Gabrielle to be 
your lawful wedded wife?
MICHAEL: Yes, I do.
REV. SHEILA: Is there anyone among 
those gathered here 
who will raise an objection to this marriage?
ONLOOKERS: (Suspenseful silence and then Michael says: 
“And I will escort them over the edge of this cliff.”)
REV. BARNEY: Is there anyone 
among the witnesses here gathered 
who will cheer and applaud this wedding? 
If so, please do so. 
(Boistrous and happy applause, whistles and shouts.)
REV. SHEILA: We now pronounce Michael and Gabrielle 
husband and wife. 
You may kiss one another. (They do.)

[Dr. Stern plays a recessional medley as the bride and groom 
head over to the Just Coffee truck for Kahluah cake 
and café con leche.]


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Among the Guests and Witnesses


The Animals Map

of Montauk

This is a chapter from the documentary titled The Yellow Bucket House, about the property at 11 Old Montauk Highway in Montauk, New York.

The Yellow Bucket House, fortunately, comes with a map.

The map was drafted by a witty editor named Arthur Berwick during a five-year stretch between 1978 and 1983 when the house was in the possession of an actress named Paula Warren, her daughter, Jennifer, and, I suspect, Paula’s husband or brother, Paul. I’d like to know the legal and familial circumstances, but none of the haints I’ve met, so far, have told the true story for me.

But the map is enough.This map raises more questions than I can ever hope to answer, and so I am persuaded it is what it purports to be. That is, the natural geography of The Yellow Bucket House from the point of view of the animals who live here. Arthur Berwick penned the following note in blue ink on an engraved personal card that he glued to the cardboard back of the frame:

“The Animals Map of Montauk ~ done for Mrs. Warren by the Animals. ~~~ Revised ‘83”

The map, mounted behind clear glass in a cheap and sturdy aluminum frame, hangs on the wall in the downstairs living room, which was the storage basement of the house when it began life in 1939 as a Lookout bunker. The haints tell stories of the passionate embraces that transpired in this room. Haints happily recount the stories of the bewitching young Montauk women who lured innocent sailors from the Lookout patrols into lust and matrimony on the Navy cot down the stairs.

I ignored the map for many years after I got here. Then, one sultry July afternoon, when the downstairs room was cool, shadowy and sweet with fresh cut roses and cosmos, I stood away and looked at it, and saw for the first time that the gravel path that begins at the top of Hidden Drive and goes down to the Road [Relatively Safe At Night] Road is named on the map Barney Lane.

Since this map dates back to 1983 (revised) and was originally drawn in the 1970s, the cartographer wrote my nickname on the path a score or more years before I knowingly stepped on this land.

A few other odd coincidences suddenly revealed themselves when I looked more closely. There is the name of Errol Garner (it appears near the lower right-hand corner of the HOUSE). He was a piano player whose recordings I play to this day. I began to think of the Yellow Bucket House map as a message for the future rather than a relic of the past. I began to feel that you-never-know feeling, like Twilight Zone theorists must have to deal with.

I lurched back in my mind to the reasonable comforts of rationality and science. I methodically studied, from top to bottom, counterclockwise, what is the same now as it was then, and what has perceptibly changed as far as the Animals Map is concerned. Here in a nutshell is what I see:

The Atlantic Ocean is still where it was, give or take a few dozen feet, and the Gull Area remains politically conservative because there are still No Left Terns.

The beach, or strand, for a mile or more in either direction, is wide, deep, pale and clean and could hardly have been better back when.

Edward Albee’s residence, with the crafty old playwright living and writing in it, exists as of early September, 2009, and he still works like a raccoon opening a lock.

Gurney’s Inn is prosperous in its 80th year and is as healthy and far bigger than it was in the mapmaker’s time. The Panoramic is six times as well developed and costly as it was then, and yet it is still a rare hideaway for anyone in love and in the chips.

The Poison Ivy & Tick Path is as it was, perhaps a bit wider, more gullied and less itchy because during my custodianship I’ve macheted the thorny wild roses and selectively Round-Upped the poison ivy. The wild daisies still bloom in profusion beside the path in the spring.

The Hither Hills Trailer Park, because of an artistic glitch in the cartographer’s art, looks like it is located next door to the Poison Ivy & Tick Path. It is actually about a mile to the southwest down the Old Montauk Highway, as are Hubert and the Garden.

The Old Montauk Highway remains a wide-enough two-lane petroleum-based road with a 30 mile per hour speed limit, which is still broken by large, Gatsbyesque cars that scoff at the limit. Animals and people must beware when crossing. Many animals die on the highway.

Terra Incognita, I am glad to report, is still largely unknown to humanity. However, it is well known to fox, deer, raccoons, rabbits, moles, jonquil bulbs, small white oaks, firs, deer ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, chicken snakes (who eat mostly bunnies), black snakes (who eat mice and rats), a stray dog or cat, a few squirrels, and in the treetops everything from summer songbirds and tone-deaf blue jays to winter raptors and crows.

The small and accurate compass inscribed on the upper left quadrant just inside the arc of the highway is helpful in getting one’s bearings. The sun rises in line with the Albee house. Most storms in summer and winter arrive from the west over Gunner’s Hill, but the most violent lightning storms rise over the SAFE WOODS to the north. Tropical storms and winter nor’easters barrel right over the ocean from the east and winds of more than 75 miles an hour in January, February and March are hardly worth mentioning. I did not realize the fact until recently that Montauk is one of the windiest places on the Atlantic coast.

ATTENTION BIRDS! To Dick Barr’s. Why do the birds go to Dick Barr’s? Now there is a story, told to me by all the haints who knew him, but it needs more words than this map discussion allows.

X Soup Buried Here ~ A fascinating culinary mystery.

Recommended For Racoons! Up until I came to use the outdoor shower and keep the trash pails securely covered, the raccoons [who are notorious bad spellers] made themselves at home in the shower and garbage space from dark to dawn. For the sake of not scaring them and them not scaring me, I gently but persistently shooed them out of the shower space, and when they put up their little hands to protest, I lightly touched their fingers with the ends of a straw broom. Highly annoyed and insulted, they departed into Terra Incognita and the Safe Woods and never returned.

Mole Run: This area has been settled by Irish moss inhabitants. No moles have come here in at least 10 years because the Menehunes and Leprechauns barbeque them like we do squab and chickens.

DANGER! LARGE DOG: Now there are three, Homer, Polly and Harry. They are nothing like the Hounds of the Baskervilles. This trio barks.

Birdbath: The birdbath is now on the SAFE GREEN on the ocean side of the house at the edge of Terra Incognita. It is called P-Man and was sculpted by Alexander Collier behind censorial closed doors at the university of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The water P-Man pees is clean and animals of all sorts, besides birds, drink from and bathe in it until P-Man’s pipes freeze up in the depths of winter.

ROAD [Relatively Safe at Night] ROAD is still relatively safe as there are relatively few residents along the road, known as Fir Lane, and most of the drivers by day are sober and save their racing for the track. At night, Fir Lane is deliciously quiet.

SAFE WOODS is now encroached upon a little by the two conjoined houses of Robert and Daphne Stern, which is surrounded by a nearly animal-proof wire netting and a big wooden gate. Otherwise, the safe woods is as safe as ever.

PAUL WARREN’S ROCK: Too little is known about this glacial, granite-like erratic except to the little people, who revere it and are awed by its power. Even the deer in the DEER CROSSING steer clear of its aura, which radiates for many feet around it.

TO GUNNER’S HILL: DANGER (Weekends Only): Now there is a large house built on Gunner’s Hill and no longer are deer at risk of weekend snipers perched in the hilltop tree stands.

The entire right side of the map up to the highway describes the neighboring “Userowitz’ Place” with the notation: “(No-Neckers Observed Here)”. The haints are still secretive about what that means.

We are left also to speculate about the meaning of WARNING! Area Hazardous to Mice”. Did they die in the Userowitz’ pool? Was there a cat? Historians and haints are exploring for clues.

BRIGHTLY LIT AREA AT NIGHT ~ AVOID! There are three outdoor floodlights mounted along the eaves of The Yellow Bucket House and they point at the yard and gardens. I leave them unlighted at night to give nocturnal creatures their dark privacy. The only nightlight now is at the front door where it welcomes anyone who gets past the dogs.

TUB no longer exists and there is, as yet, no surviving record of what it was and why it was in front of the picture window.

WALL OF THIEVES still stands. How the wall got its name is story of torment and sunshine that embroils the Remorse Plant and the brown Rabbits, who are messengers from a love far away.

Inside and on top of the HOUSE are technological signs of those times that no longer apply. The Bird’s Antennae was clearly for the television set in the corner so people could watch M.A.S.H. The antennae is long gone. PEOPLE is in the precise same place where when guests come to The Yellow Bucket House they gather to talk.

We know that Paula and Jennifer probably slept in the bigger room with the slit windows, and that Listerine, Clorox and Bug Spray were likely lodged in the smaller slit windows room next to the stairwell. What HAM means is obscure.

Sink and Shower are still where they were and heroic plumbing efforts keep them working despite many seasons of wear and tear.

TREE, a white oak, was thoughtlessly cut down in 2003, but from its stump a new tree grew which protects the corner from gales winds and acts as a canopy over the brutal reality of the kitchen midden.

(C) 2009 Barnard Law Collier All Rights Reserved