1. GHOST-BUSTING AT CAMP HERO
The eerie and some say haunted bunkers, abandoned houses, and gun emplacements at Camp Hero, the decommissioned Montauk Naval Air Station, used to be a private playground for surfers, myth-busters (seeking to unlock the mystery behind the rumored Montauk Project), and curious kids. For years, the 300-acre site was closed to the public but accessible by those willing to push through the tangled underbrush for clandestine teenage escapades and rites of passage. Rumors of squatters abounded.
These days, however, it is managed, trails are well-marked — and late fall and early winter are the best time to explore the park’s warren of paths and roads, seeking out wildlife (deer, foxes, waterfowl, seals, turkeys, and more) and examining relics of the former military site, which was established during World War I and saw its heyday during World War II and the Cold War.
Chances are, only the very local locals ever get as close as Andrew (last name withheld to protect the guilty) to the radar tower itself (doing this is not only illegal but highly unwise). But the base retains its mystique and is, in fact, home to some of the most lovely cliffside and down-dell walks possible.
2. THE ILLUMINATTI
There's Lots of twinkling and tree-Lighting to be witnessed over the next two months, starting with Southampton's Parade of Lights on Saturday, Nov. 26 (usually followed by the annual lighting of the Montauk Point Lighthouse, but that appears to be imperiled this year by budgetary concerns); then comes the lighting of Wolffer's vines (Saturday, Dec. 3; buy tickets in advance); and the illumination of Hook Mill in East Hampton Sunday, Dec. 4). Other charming community illuminations are the tree-lightings at the historic Chequit Inn on Shelter Island, on Saturday, Dec. 10 - featuring Victorian carolers, activities for kids, and mulled wine - and at c/o the Maidstone in East Hampton Village, (Dec. 8, 4 to 6 p.m.), also with singing and warm drinks.
The Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, the oldest Jewish congregation on Long Island, is kicking off the Hanukkah season with a bazaar, party, and light dinner on December 18, during which you can pick up everything you need the holiday's first night, which falls on Dec. 24. That night, the temple is hosting a Hanukkah lighting with blessings and songs at the Sag Harbor Windmill at 6 pm. Come hungry: Sufganiyot and hot chocolate will be served. Worth noting, in a rare convergence, December's Jewish and Christian celebrations align this year.
4. SHOW AND TELL
Named for the sound of " chit-chat" in Japanese, the Parrish Art Museum's PechaKucha nights are like Ted Talks, or town hall meetings, for the South Fork: The sold-out gatherings bring innovative businesspeople, artists, writers, big-wave surfers, farmers, Latino community organizers, filmmakers, chefs, wampum artists, winemakers, and - who have we missed? - for presentations, followed by conversation. The program has not been set. Info at parrishart.org
Almond restaurant in Bridgehampton livens up the off- season with its artists & Writers Performance series, featuring talks by authors, painters, and musicians, along with a prix fixe dinner. (A highlight last year: Vogue and The New Yorker's Adam Green on his amusing affection for our dear old Sag Harbor radio station, WLNG.) For the 2016-2017 lineup check Almond's Facebook page.
5. ON DASHER, ON COMET AND VIXEN!
The East Hampton Village Santa Parade features old-fashioned, homemade floats, vintage cars, Santa - maybe some elves and reindeer, too, prancing down Main Street. 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 3. For more information: East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, 631-324-0362
6. GREET THE DAWN
Join thousands in the Korean tradition of watching the new year's sunrise from the easternmost point of New York, at Montauk Point. Then make early rising a habit, and sign up for yoga classes at year-round studios, such as Yoga Lila in Montauk or Mandala Yoga in Amagansett.
7. CUTENESS ON THE ROCKS
seals, over-wintering along the South Fork, have a few favorite places to hang out — among them a "haul out" on the north side of Montauk Point. You can venture out there yourself to view the playful seals (the route from the parking area at the lighthouse is well marked), or you can join up with the South Fork Natural History Museum, the Montauk State Park, or the Coastal Resources and Education Society of Long Island, all of which organize tours.
8. THE HOLLY AND THE IVY
If creating your own door wreath sounds like fun, pick your "Wreath school": Marders and Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, the LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, and the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack all host seasonal wreath making sessions. Check with them for dates and times.
The choral society of the Hamptons performs several concerts a year at a standard of singing that is octaves above your garden-variety amateur chorus. Its Christmas concert is far and away our favorite. This year, Mozart's Missa Brevis in F and Bach's Cantata No. 61 are on the program, but you can expect the performance to end with one or two familiar holiday-time tunes for you to join in and lift the rafters of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church. Dec. 4 at 4 and 5:30 p.m.