Column: Codger looks back and ahead

Last week, Codger took Cur II for a walk. It wasn’t that much of a walk, certainly not one of their old howling, ball-chasing marathons, just a stroll on Westmoreland in the rain. Cur II kept looking over his shoulder to be sure Codger was still attached to the leash. Codger liked that. It was their first walk of 2019.

It was time, 10 months since the cervical spine operation, two months since the hip replacement. Codger missed walking the dog almost as much as he missed walking.

Cur II less so, probably. Early in the year he had made a best friend, a handsome 2-year-old German Shepherd named Axel, who owns the buoyant Phoebe Starzee. She often walks them — actually runs them — together, and despite the disparity in their ages (Cur II is 7) they are great companions. They are close in size (Cur II is a standard poodle) and energy.

Over the summer, Axel tried to teach Cur II to swim, but was unsuccessful. Hopefully, Cur II failed to teach Axel how to steal food and chew disposable plastic razors, his specialties.

Last week, on their first walk, Codger hoped that Cur II didn’t feel cheated out of a fun run with Phoebe and Axel, or with Crone, who dismisses such talk as silly anthropomorphic projection. But then she tells Codger that Cur II had really missed their walks (and talks) and this was a big deal for him, too.

Last week on their first walk of 2019, Codger and Cur II talked mostly about the nearly completed year, which was not one of the golden ones. There was the continuing despair and uncertainty in the country. Codger did not want Cur II to feel as insecure as he and Crone did in the national leadership, but he couldn’t help expressing himself. This was when Cur II pooped. Codger did not project.

But he took it as a chance to vent, which is his specialty. He is particularly annoyed, he told Cur II, that in its limited wisdom, the Times Review Media Group, owner of the Reporter, closed this paper’s Shelter Island office. It was a physical and symbolic event that left many readers pondering the future of local journalism, a well-known endangered necessity in these shaky, misinformed times.

Cur II looked bored, or maybe he was just disappointed that none of the Westmoreland horses were outside in the rain. He liked to look at them. So did Codger.

Codger tried to explain why the Reporter was important as a viable presence on the Island. People need information to make informed decisions.

Who else will keep tabs on the politicians, the polluters, the water wasters, the stealth renters, the noise makers? Even after Crone’s noise complaints, why did the Shelter Island cops let that West Neck band play on beyond 1 a.m.? Isn’t 11 a.m. the legal goodnight? Such incidents make the mantra of the anything-goes STR barkers — we don’t need no regs, we got the police — seriously ridiculous.

Who will help us understand this year’s scallop disaster, a crushing financial blow to so many baymen and women? The die-off of adult scallops after two successful harvests has been linked to warming waters. What are local politicians going to do about climate change? Will the new Town Board stand up to the arrogant proposals for resource guzzling, environment despoiling, narcissistic me-mansions?

That woke Cur II up. He said, Be careful there. I depend on you for treats.

Island readers depend on reporters on the Island to monitor the meetings and follow the money. What’s going on at the Medical Center? Which doctors are going to be there next year? Can we depend on Stony Brook to make this medical desert bloom? And readers need to be able to respond, argue, add their insights to the stories.

Cur II stopped and sighed. How about some good news?

There was some this year, said Codger. Esther Hunt gave the town 30 of her acres for a nature preserve that would be open to everybody. The Senior Citizens Foundation is buying the town a new $85,000 bus that will be available to everybody.

And the local League of Women Voters (Crone presiding), which is merging with the Hamptons group to form a super league, took local high school girls to a workshop to introduce them to local women politicians and the empowerment of persistence.

As of this year, no woman has represented Shelter Island in the state senate or assembly or in the first Congressional district. These girls might change that, making democracy more attainable for everybody.

Add to this year’s good news that Codger and Cur II are back on the road.

Cur II stopped and turned. His sigh was clear: Cur II concurs.