Island Seniors: A picnic lunch at Mashomack

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Picnickers, from the left: Gary Trout, Tom Damiani, Cinny Labrozzi, Maggie Ciaglo, Gale Holm, Karoline Kilb, Ken Latsch, Kay Corbett, Janice Schmitt, Mike Laspia, Jean Tuthill, Lois Charls, Cindy Belt, George Dawson and Diane Anderson.

The Silver Circle’s trip on Wednesday, June 15 to the Mashomack Trail House off Route 114 was a logistical coup.

The advance car bringing three volunteers, the picnic lunch, paper goods, utensils and garbage bags left the Senior Activity Center at 11:30 a.m. sharp.

Hugging its rear bumper was the town’s handicapped-accessible bus with club members and staff on board, driven by the intrepid Donna King, who had no idea where the Trail House was.

Raindrops pattered on the bus roof, but at least it wasn’t pouring the way it had the week before when we had to abort the trip.

Club members, staff and volunteers were warmly greeted by Preserve Director J. Michael Laspia, Education and Outreach Coordinator Cindy Belt and Volunteer Center Coordinator Tom Damiani. They all paused to pose for the ceremonial trip photo on the porch of the Education Building located behind the Trail House.

The picnic lunch was served directly after the photo op. Club members and staff provided their own sandwiches, which were packed in the cooler back at the Center, together with coleslaw from the Eagle Deli. The deli also supplied sandwiches for our hosts, Mike, Cindy and Tom. There was apple juice and bottled water to drink, exotic potato chips for a side snack, and grapes, strawberries and Chips Ahoy cookies for dessert.

Staffer Diane Anderson was in charge of putting all this together back at the Center and making sure that all her food handlers, both in the Center kitchen and at Mashomack, were properly fitted out with sanitary latex gloves.

By 1 p.m., the picnic debris and recyclables had vanished into the appropriate garbage bags and we were ready for the show — a PowerPoint presentation by Tom on Shelter Island’s beach nesting birds, especially the piping plovers and the least terns, both of which are listed as federally threatened species.

In the audience at this point were Jean Lawless, the club’s yoga instructor, her grandchildren — two-year-old Ophelia and seven-month-old “Dutch” — and their nanny. Jean has been working the plover exclosures on Shell Beach for at least 12 years.

We had time for a lively question and answer period and a trip to the Trail House, which has a magnificent bird viewing window.

Just watching the birds at the feeder through the window was Jean Tuthill’s favorite part of the trip.

By two o’clock, the advance car was packed with the picnic leftovers and garbage, carefully separated, of course. Donna King’s bus was warming up, and we were saying goodbye to Mike, Cindy and Tom. “See you next year,” we cried. And we will.

Please note: We left nothing behind but footsteps.