On Shelter Island, we don’t have to wait for truly warm weather or notice the yellow signal flares of forsythia to tell us winter is a memory. We’ve witnessed spring on the wing with the arrival of the magnificent fish hawks, the ospreys, returning from their Florida and Caribbean winter quarters.
A smaller winged harbinger has come home, too. Piping plovers have been spotted with their melodious penny whistle voices and mad dashes across beaches foraging for food, or skimming low across the water, shifting in formation.
Emily Dickinson was right: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul …” It’s not some abstract concept, or a metaphor, but true when we see robins strutting across lawns before stopping, chests out, solemnly posing for us.
Rebirth and hope are essential, especially with two disheartening events — one much more painful than the other — assaulting the Island’s way of life.
The brutality surrounding the death of Reverend Canon Paul Wancura of injuries suffered from a home invasion and burglary in Silver Beach still shocks us. His funeral bell Monday in Setauket at the parish he served for almost three decades tolled for all of us.
And back in January, the Island had to face an environmental crime that also affects us all, when dozens of trees off Menhaden Lane were sliced in half and the wood left lying twisted in heaps on the ground. The atrocity happened on county property and so officials at that level are investigating. Investigating? As said before several times in this space, this shouldn’t require Sherlock Holmes to figure out. It happened three months ago and there’s been no word on motive, means or people involved.
What is so sensitive in this case that the public is being left completely in the dark?
The police investigation into Reverend Wancura’s death and another burglary directly across the street from his residence is now under the direction of the Homicide Division of the Suffolk County Police Department. They’ve assured the public that the person or persons involved will be caught.
It’s telling, however, that more than a month after Reverend Wancura was found, there seem to be no breaks in the case, with the police passing out flyers to Island businesses showing a watch that was stolen and asking the public for information. All that would be unnecessary, it seems, if a person or persons of interest were being investigated.
The coming of spring reminds us of the words of Martin Luther King Jr., shot dead 50 years ago this month, but who is always alive to people everywhere: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Watching the osprey soar high above us, or hearing the piping plovers serenading the spring, we know those words are true.