I learned a new word recently: smultronställe. It’s Swedish, literally meaning “place of wild strawberries”, however more familiarly it means “a place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation, a personal idyll free from stress or sadness”.
a place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation, a personal idyll free from stress or sadness. Immediately, I understood this sentiment in my relationship with my own hometown of Amagansett. Founded by the Dutch in 1648, it remains a small village nestled between the bay and the ocean north-to-south and Montauk and East Hampton east-to-west.
I wasn’t born here. I was born in Manhattan, and it’s true that even though I’ve grown up here since the age of seven, I may forever be distinguished from a true local. Then again, most native New Yorkers’ first question to other natives is: where did you go to high school? And thus, even though I began my childhood in Manhattan and continued to visit one half of my parental unit on the island of Manhattan until I reached adulthood — I’m distinguished again from full native New Yorker status.
Never mind these technicalities; Amagansett is my hometown because it’s where I feel smultronställe. Indian Wells Beach just down the road has welcomed me for fun, for love, for solitude, for carousing. I’ve seen the sun set and rise over the ocean that is ever familiar and yet has no two waves the same. The town square — a large grass lawn right off the main street — changes little by little, but slowly enough that nothing catches me by surprise.
In the wintertime, Amagansett and the rest of the towns that make up the East End feel just as small, and unchanged as I left them. Here’s to a perfect day in the field of wild strawberries, except in winter… so a field that has strawberry plants covered in snow.
Grab a morning coffee at Jack’s. Sit in the cottage-esque coffeehouse adorned by a large American flag, exposed wooden beams and nautical miscellany.
Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee
146 Montauk Highway, Amagansett
Hideout from winter’s cold in the Amagansett Marine Museum and learn about the town’s rich whaling and fishing history with a plethora of historical artifacts.
The Marine Museum
301 Bluff Road, Amagansett
Follow Bluff Road east to The End and enjoy the ocean vistas from Old Montauk Highway. Share the nachos, the mussels and some good laughs at the amusing humor and satire adorning the walls at longstanding favorite, The Dock.
The nachos are truly the best in the land.
1 Montauk Harbor, Montauk
It’s time to hide away from the elements. Pop into a movie in East Hampton village, or yoga or cycling class if you feel so inclined. Perhaps a nap and hot bath are in order for your wintry Saturday by the sea.
For a cozy evening, head over to the downstairs tavern at 1770 House for red wine and a succulent burger. Have an apéritif before, or a nightcap after, of your preferred beverage in the formal living room. Built in 1663, it endures many of its colonial characteristics. It wasn’t until 1770 the private home was converted into an inn.
It would be impossible to discuss the joys of being a local without also discussing the rising prices of things and costs of living here. I love our dimly lit restaurants and local catches even when my wallet doesn’t always agree, but remember a homemade chili and a stroll along the ocean is worth more than dollars. And with the early nightfall comes an early sleep in wintertime on the east end. Make a fire and sip one more red.