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A home on the Island: In the know

One of my favorite places on Shelter Island is my front porch. This covered spot allows an all-weather opportunity to enjoy the tranquility and peacefulness that so many come here find.

Morning cups of coffee, afternoon games of chess as a family, and evening glasses of wine seem to be even more satisfying from our perch overlooking the abundant greenery and quiet existence of surrounding wildlife.

From my view on the front porch, to the right is a family who have been living on Shelter Island since 1970. To the left is a family living in their newly constructed house and experiencing their first Shelter Island summer. I find myself literally and figuratively in the middle.

We’ve been fortunate to have been visiting and seasonally living here for somewhere in between those two dynamics. With two young children, we’ve spent the last few years learning about and exploring Shelter Island while doing our best to support local businesses and engage with the community.

I certainly haven’t discovered a magic formula, and I’m not aware of one simple way to stay informed about activities, events and destinations, but I’ve accumulated a few tricks to help stay active and informed.

The Reporter, of course, is the best way to start, and then try social media. Follow as many retailers, businesses and organizations that you can. Start with the obvious, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Shelter Island, the library, and  well-known island establishments.

From religious institutions to restaurants, many have an online presence that can be informational in terms of their own scheduled events, but also in terms of opening a door to see who they follow and can be added to your own network. This is a simple step to help you become aware of things like live music schedules, weekly dining specials or community events.

For those looking to stay active, the Town of Shelter Island Open Shore & Preserved Lands Map (available on the town website) lists 26 locations including preserves, trails, beaches and town landings.

With many of the locations being tucked into unsuspecting residential streets, we’ve used this map over the past few years to not only find new kayak launches and walking trails, but also sometimes just as a destination to bring us to a neighborhood or road we’ve never traveled. 

In addition to hosting the weekly Saturday morning farmers market, annual musical theater performance and an upcoming dance party, the Shelter Island History Center also offers ceramics classes for all ages (3+) and an onsite retail store showcasing products from local artists, makers and creators — always a great way to get exposed to neighborhood innovators.

The location on 114 is also one of nine Shelter Island listed places on the National Register of Historic Places. The other eight, including a journey over to Smith-Taylor Cabin on Taylor’s Island, are well worth a visit.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that there is another way to keep track of Island happenings: “Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

While he might not have been referencing road signs for things like the Chicken Barbecue, ArtSI or the Duck Race, paying attention to the signs along the road or posted at places like Stars Café is a way to discover a beach party, fundraising event or musical performance.

Through some of my recent conversations, I’ve discovered that even long-term residents admittedly struggle with staying in the loop and fall into the comforts of what they know and where they go, forgetting to seek out new or different activities.

Don’t be shy in chatting with someone while waiting to check out at IGA or while dropping off a package at the Post Office. Approach each discussion with someone as an opportunity to ask about where they like to take their morning walk or where they bring guests seeking the perfect sunset view.