My luncheon friend and I talked about the pond in Southampton, called Lake Agawam which is situated right in the town and stretches out to the beach and the Southampton Bathing Corporation, also known as “the beach club.” The houses whose property run right to the edge of Lake Agawam are some of the biggest and most expensive on all of Long Island, and they are owned by some of the richest people in America. There must be about twenty in all bordering the water. One of them was recently put on the market for $45 million, or something in that financial stratosphere. The beach club whose location presides at the southern most end of the lake, is where the society the world knows as Soutthampton goes for their exquisite comfort food lunches on lazy summer days and weekends, where kids go for swims in the ocean and the pool and people go to see and be seen.
I mention these general details because they don’t come without a touch of horrendous irony when it comes to Lake Agawam. The lake itself is a deluding puddle of poisonous chemicals and all kinds of detritus from the over-fertilized lawns but even more so from the town which for decades has casually and quietly allowed all kinds of disposal from the salt of the roads in the winter to the decomposed garbage from the local taverns that bordered it.
There have been numerous times when the lake has been without oxygen so that the fish all died. Like other ponds on the outer parts of Long Island, there is a run-off connection to the Atlantic. Lake Agawam has one down by the Bathing Corporation so that the water sluices to the sea when the lake gets too high.
Polluted lakes or ponds aren’t uncommon in our world, unfortunately. But they are sickening. Poisons poison. I’ve heard the case for Lake Agawam is not only not being addressed but the pollution is getting more rampant. Nobody’s fault; just what happens. In some places it's called waste management.
Now there is concern that sewage of sorts might find its way into the lake with plans to pump it out into the Atlantic. Which makes sense, I suppose. Although it doesn’t make all that much sense for the swell folks who belong to the Bathing Corporation, where their kids like to swim in the ocean in summertime; where they can sit on the patio, lunch with pals and look out at the Mother Atlantic. Sweeping away all our detritus. But not our cares.
It’s a pretty lake, Lake Agawam, polluted as it is. You can even identify it from 10,000 feet as you’re flying into JFK because it’s got its very own shade of green. A kind of translucent pea green. Although on the ground it just looks like dark water from the lakeside. And in summertime the view of it is so serene at twilight, as the Sun sets and the lights from the billionaires’ great old mansions’ begin to glow upon the waters. A little bit of heaven on the eye. Lethally filthy though they may be. Proving, if nothing else, that there’s no escaping the environment wherever you go.