Pics Of The Day #821

For an hour this afternoon, a thunderstorm battered Westport. Most people took cover — including this Compo Beach lifeguard. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

As the rain let up, the sun came out on Warnock Drive. (Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)

Menu Moments: What To Eat At The Duck

Everyone loves the Black Duck. But admit it: With its wings, stuffed burgers, fried shrimp, po’ boys, onion rings and beers, it’s no one’s first choice when someone says, “Let’s eat healthy!”

Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t join the gang at the barge. Today, dietician Heather Bauer offers tips on the best, healthiest dishes to order at the Saugatuck landmark.

Appetizers:

Small house salad (the best option for vegan/vegetarian); oil/vinegar dressing

The Duck’s raw bar (6 oysters or 6 littlenecks)

Shrimp cocktail

Lobster cocktail ($20, but delicious)

Steamers (skip the butter on the side)

The Black Duck’s littleneck steamed clams (go easy on the butter and beer!)

Fish entrees

Broiled salmon (ask for a veggie side, instead of rice or potatoes)

Large house salad with shrimp or salmon on top (the best dressing option is oil/vinegar)

Steamers (skip the butter on the side, or go light)

1 1/4-pound steamed lobster (skip the butter and potato if you can; depending on the market price, this may be a great deal — it comes with a house salad) 

Meat entrees

Large house salad with grilled chicken or flat iron steak (the best dressing option is oil/vinegar)

House hamburger (choose the English muffin, and make it “topless” — take the top off, and eat with a fork and knife; ask for extra lettuce and/or tomato, and a side of coleslaw instead of fries or tater tots)

Turkey burger (again, order it “topless”; eat with a fork and knife; ask for extra veggies)

Take the top off a burger. (And avoid the sour cream.)

Vegetarian options

Iceberg wedge (without the bacon and blue cheese; ask for oil/vinegar dressing instead)

Veggie Burger (order it “topless”; ask for extra veggies and avocado on the side)

Bonus dining tip from Heather

Snack or not before you go?

You might think that a snack before you go out is a good way to avoid overeating, but it’s not always true. Be honest with yourself. Think about the times you’ve done this. Did you actually eat less at the restaurant, or was your overall intake that much more? Sometimes your pre-meal snack can increase your appetite, and decrease your self-control.

A Westport favorite, for decades. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

Unsung Heroes #107

A couple of weeks ago, Brooke Davies posted this note on Facebook’s Westport Front Porch page:

Does anybody know Lee Greenberg? I have a postcard for her from the Galápagos Islands that’s supposed to be hand delivered. (People write postcards and leave them there. If you see one for someone who lives near you, you’re supposed to take it and hand deliver it.)

Brooke’s brother had found the postcard, written in 2018. He was excited that — thanks to his sister — he knew someone who could actually connect the letter to its recipient.

But, Brooke added, “Based on my Google search, she’s 101. I don’t want to show up at her house unexpected! Thanks!”

Lee Greenberg at her 100th birthday celebration with children Mike, Debbie and Gail.

Front Porchers responded quickly.

One said that local builder Mike Greenberg is Lee’s son. Another added that Mike’s wife Amy is also on Front Porch. Someone else said that Lee is a longtime Rotary Club member, and would probably be at that Tuesday’s meeting in Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall.

Negin Janati chimed in: “Lee is my husband’s grandmother! I’m sure she would be very happy to have you stop by to visit. Otherwise, we’d be happy to give it to her. What a wonderful concept!”

Soon, Toni Simonetti announced: “Just saw Lee at the beach. She has heard about the postcard and is awaiting its arrival!”

The letter.

Barbara — and the others who helped lead her to Lee — are not amazing heroes. They did not cure AIDS, or save people from a burning building.

But heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Through their small acts of kindness, they brought joy to a neighbor.

And they proved once again how connected Westport is to the world.

Including the remote islands of the Galápagos.

Irving Berlin: Playhouse Production Is Nostalgic, Educational — And Very Relevant

It’s mid-July. But the set for the Westport Country Playhouse production of “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” — which opened last night — evokes a snowy winter night.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Of course. America’s greatest songwriter is well known for “White Christmas.”

Plus “God Bless America.” “Easter Parade.” “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” And many, many, many, many, more.

His life — from his birth in the Russian Empire, to his youth on the Lower East Side (he left school at 13), to Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood, with a stop in the Army, and all the ups and downs of his personal life — is told with warmth, wit and wonder.

It’s a remarkable tale. He lived to be 101 — long enough so that his copyright on “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” expired before he did.

The show is educational, entertaining and fun.

It’s also extremely timely. Berlin was an immigrant who loved his adopted country. The story behind “God Bless America” — with the Playhouse audience singing first quietly, then lustily along — gives goose bumps.

(“Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” runs through August 3. Click here for more information, and tickets.)

Grizzly David Stalling

Dave Stalling grew up in Westport. After graduating from Staples in 1979 and earning a forestry degree from Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, he enlisted in the Marines. He served in an elite Force Recon unit, and attained the rank of sergeant.

Dave then received degrees in journalism and wildlife at the University of Montana. He has worked for the US Forest Service, National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups, and served 2 terms as president of the Montana Wildlife Federation.

Dave currently works as a writer, editor and activist (click here for his blog). He lives in Missoula with his son Cory. 

Dave Stalling and his son Cory.

Recently, Dave was interviewed about his passion for protecting wild places and grizzly bears. Among the podcast topics: how growing up in Westport helped shape his beliefs, values and life’s work. Here’s an excerpt:

My dad was a pretty interesting guy. He grew up during the Depression and did a lot of fishing and crabbing and hunting, mostly to help feed his family. He quit high school after Pearl Harbor, and joined the Marine Corps. He was in some horrendous battles; he fought on Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa.

After the war, because he didn’t have a high school degree, he never really pursued his dreams. He actually wanted to get into wildlife and forestry and move to Montana, so I kind of lived my dad’s life. He was incredibly knowledgeable, self-taught about wildlife.

We did a lot of hiking, camping and backpacking. Growing up on Long Island Sound, in Westport, Connecticut, we spent a ton of time pursuing fish that migrate up and down the East Coast, called striped bass.

Dave Stalling cooks dinner. These are not striped bass.

We would fish for them mostly at night. We would go out there, and he’d take a kind of scientific approach to it all. He kept track over many years of what times of year, what the moon was, what tides were, and where he would catch these fish.

Maybe he would set up on the northeast corner of Cockenoe Island at a certain tide during a certain moon in October, and catch these big migratory bass that come through. We would catch them up to 40 or 50 pounds, but there’s been stripers netted in commercial fishing boats that were over 100 pounds. They’re big fish. And really good eating fish.

What really helped influence me was my father went far beyond just teaching me how to catch fish. He was very passionate about the wilds. He taught me about sandpipers, horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, sea robins, scallops, mussels, lobsters — everything that made up the world of the striped bass. He would tie it all together for me, and of course talk about the importance of keeping healthy estuaries and that sort of stuff.

Dave Stalling

At the same time, he would get really sad and tell me stories. He’d point out places where there’s now big giant mansions along the East Coast, big estates and golf courses. He told me how when he was a kid those were salt marshes and estuaries, where he used to fish and crab.

It had dramatically changed in front of his eyes — which I can relate to now because I’ve been in Montana for over 30 years, and see the same kind of stuff. When I first moved here, I had permission to hunt on this ranch just outside of Missoula. It’s now Wal-Mart, Costco and all that development.

Parts of Montana are still pristine.

He taught me to go beyond the fishing, and really appreciate what sustained these fish. I guess through that I developed a really strong connection to the environment, to the wilds.

There’s also a desire to protect it all. At the time striped bass were rapidly declining, because of PCBs and other chemical pollutants in their spawning grounds, like the Chesapeake Bay and Hudson Bay. So I learned a lot about that.

He traveled up and down the New England coast, attending meetings and fighting to protect the striped bass that meant so much to him.

I got a lot from him, obviously. He was a good man. He passed away 16 or 17 years ago. I miss him every day.

To hear the complete interview, click below.

Pics Of The Day #820

Compo Beach yesterday morning … (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

… and evening … (Photo/Les Dinkin)

… plus the sunset on Saugatuck Shores … (Photo/Jeff Manchester)

… and another view, from Grace Salmon Park. (Photo/Sam Levenson)

High (And Low) Watermarks

A few days ago, “06880” ran a photo of the traffic island at Turkey Hill North and the Post Road.

The sign said it was “Maintained by The Watermark at 3030 Park.” But it had been quite a while since any maintenance was done.

Someone in Bridgeport must be reading this blog. Here was the same scene yesterday evening:

Congratulations, and thanks, Watermark!

There’s only one problem: You may have forgotten you also maintain the traffic island at the other end of Turkey Hill North, at Long Lots.

Emily Stone: An Athlete With A GOAL

Emily Stone grew up in a family of athletes.

Her brothers Matt and Rob were Staples High School baseball stars; they now play at Georgetown and Holy Cross, respectively. Matt was starting catcher on Westport’s 2013 Little League World Series national finalist team.

Emily’s dad Rob scored one of the most famous goals in Staples soccer history: the dramatic game-winner in the 1982 state championship. Her mother Elise was a top swimmer at Harvard University, where she was also recruited for softball.

Emily — a rising Staples senior — is a top-level softball and volleyball player. (She also writes for the school newspaper Inklings, and is a member of the Random Acts of Kindness Club.)

Emily Stone, playing softball for Staples.

But while growing up here — playing sports, moving through Saugatuck Elementary and Bedford Middle Schools — she started to realize that most of the media coverage went to boys sports.

She thought things would get better at Staples. After all, school sports are covered by Title IX.

They did — a bit. But although the Board of Education funds boys and girls sports equally — in terms of coaches’ salaries, uniforms and basic equipment — Emily was frustrated that boys teams seemed to have much better-funded booster clubs than girls.

Private fundraising allows teams to augment Board of Ed. funding.

Emily asked her mother — who after years of serving on volunteer boards, knows a thing or two about fundraising — what, realistically, could be done.

As they talked, Emily came up with an idea: a booster club that would raise money for all girls sports in Westport.

This winter, Girls Offering Athletic Leadership — GOAL, for short — was born.

Its mission statement is clear: “helping level the playing field for local girls sports programs by fundraising for, and financing, underfunded teams.”

(From left) Emily and Elise Stone; GOAL board member Colleen Dougherty, and next generation ambassador Niamh Dougherty.

GOAL already has 501(c)(3) status. Its first fundraiser — an auction and raffle held at Emily’s home — was a great success.

The first grant recipient was announced there. GOAL will help pay expenses for the Connecticut Gators softball team to participate in the national tournament in Maryland. Without that help, some players and coaches could not go.

Emily has many fundraising ideas for the future. One is a “team player sponsorship”: a business would pledge, for example, a certain amount for every home run a certain softball player hits each season.

Also ahead: social media, and a website.

“I’m just a high school kid,” Emily says. “But I’m really passionate about this. I’m humbled and honored that so many people trust me, and believe in girls sports the way I do.”

(For more information, email emstone1022@gmail.com)

Pics Of The Day #819

One view of Cockenoe Island …

… and another. (Photos/William Weiss)

Fine Arts Festival: Calling All Kids (And Adults)!

Westport’s Fine Arts Festival draws painters, photographers, sculptors — and art lovers — from around the country.

Plenty of residents browse stroll the stalls on Main Street.

But for a town that prides itself on its arts heritage, the number of local artists showing is limited.

This weekend (July 20 and 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), we’ll get our fill.

Following last year’s successful pilot, the Artists Collective of Westport hosts 2 activity tents for kids and parents. Set up at at Brooks Corner, they’re a spot for kids to show off their creatives sides. Drawing, rock painting, origami — you name it, it’s there for children to do.

Action in last year’s Fine Arts Festival children’s tent.

New this year, the Collective will set up a giant Art Experience tent on Taylor Place, near Tiffany.

Over 20 Collective artists have volunteered. There will be several at a time, leading interactive projects and demonstrating techniques and media. Among them: clam shells, eggs, ceramics, murals, wire, camera-less photos, Band-Aids, folded paper, paint and more. Susan Fehlinger is the Collectivist in chair.

Westport Artists Collective co-founder Miggs Burroughs remembers when he was a boy. His father Bernie was president of the Westport Artists Club. Miggs, his brother Trace, and many other local kids grew up surrounded by art. Illustrators, cartoonists and painters seemed to be everywhere — always giving back to the community.

“I have a great sense of pride carrying out his legacy, in some small part, by helping the Collective keep the visual arts alive and lively for generations to come.”

Some of this art may be featured in the Experience Tent.

Miggs will be in the tent, at the 46th annual Fine Arts Festival. He and many others will be working with youngsters at  Brooks Corner too.

Odds are good they’ll inspire at least one young artist. In 2083 — at Westport’s 109th Festival — he or she may be giving back to the next generation, just like Miggs and his very talented colleagues will do this weekend.

(The Fine Arts Festival — and the Westport Artists’ Collective participation in it — is a partnership with the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. For more information on the Festival, click here.)