Dr. Beverly Granger

Dr. Beverly Granger on the beach in front of her house in Sag Harbor Hills. The rocks in the background used to be above the water line for much of the tide cycle. Peter Boody photo
A retired dentist from Glen Cove, and a potter with a studio in her home, Dr. Beverly Granger belongs to one of the founding families of Sag Harbor Hills, as does her husband, Dr. Aloysius Cuyjet, a medical doctor who works during the week in Garden City. Dr. Granger, who has spent 68 summers enjoying family, friends and life on the water, recently talked about the changes she’s seen over those years. One is the approaching channel and mouth of Little Northwest Creek, which in recent years has turned west to cut through the beachfront in the neighboring Ninevah Beach community.

Is that sandbar the newly forming location of the creek?

That sandy area used to be farther down to the east. Now, when it’s low tide, it’s almost all sand. The mouth of the creek used to go from the marsh straight out to the north toward Barcelona Point. When we were kids, we could walk across it at low tide. It might be up to your waist going across — it was like an adventure to do that. Now, it’s shallows all the time, even at high tide. In Sag Harbor Hills, we couldn’t put the swim floats out this summer because they would have been sitting on sand at low tide.
How’s the beach here at your house?
Well, it’s changing. Now, high tide is much higher than it used to be … Okay, you see those rocks there? It used to be, at high tide, that water came maybe 2 feet beyond that big rock. Now, at full high tide, the water is all the way up to the beachgrass. Those rocks never used to be so far into the water at high tide.
What else has changed?
It used to be there was a lot of seaweed and eelgrass in the water, so that when you went swimming you were looking for a path, because you didn’t want to walk in it, because there was so much marine life. Now, it’s totally barren. You could dig clams, and in September you could walk along the shoreline and the scallops would be so plentiful you could just pick them up. That was when I was very young. That hasn’t been for maybe 20 years.
It used to be you could stand on the beach, toss out a line and catch blowfish. And you could always see fish swimming around. There were conch shells, there were horseshoe crabs, there was a lot of marine life. It was a whole ecosystem. Now, there’s nothing.
Has this been a gradual process?
That has probably been fairly gradual, but what has happened this year is, our beach is getting rocky because the sand has washed out. It used to be very sandy walking out, and now the sand is gone and it’s rocks. This is the first year I’ve seen rocks like that in our water.
What’s happening?
I don’t know, but I think there’s a lot of pollution going on. I have my opinions about a whole lot of it, about how murky the water is when all those big boats come in [and anchor in Shelter Island Sound], but everyone says I’m wrong. But you know what? The boats leave Labor Day — and by the Saturday after Labor Day, the water’s clear.
Do you see any fishing offshore?
The clam guys used to be out here all the time. There are no clams to be found now. My brother was very good at digging clams. When he was a kid, everybody up and down here would pay him to get some clams so they could make chowder. He taught my daughter, and we used to have fresh clams — we’d have baked clams, linguine and clams, and all that.
My husband fishes around here all the time. The fishing hasn’t been as good as it was. When we were kids, we used to go out fishing all the time, get in the boat and catch breakfast on Sunday mornings. Or catch dinner. Now, it’s a lot more challenging to find the fish.
Are you hopeful?
You know what I tell my husband? Come down to the end of Harbor Avenue, sit down on the deck and forget about the rest of it, because a lot of it — you know, the traffic in town, the big boats — there’s nothing you can do about it … But somebody from The Nature Conservancy was here this summer, and they were walking the beach and saw a couple of baby horseshoe crabs. So that was encouraging. There used to be so many horseshoe crabs.