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Friday, February 23 News

Woog’s World / What about our Westport bucket list?

It’s mid-August already. Yesterday was the Fourth of July. The day before was Memorial Day. Tomorrow the kids go back school. The next day is Thanksgiving.

How did that happen?

Life moves at warp speed these days — just like the traffic that roars through the CVS and Trader Joe’s parking lots. We race along, eyes staring straight ahead. We’re not sure of the prize — getting onto the Post Road quicker than the other guy maybe, though that hardly seems worth it — but we sure as heck want it.

Westporters are a competitive bunch. We lust for The Next Big Thing (house, car, vacation destination). We want it now. We’ll do anything to get it.

But in our pursuit, we sometimes forget the reason we’re here. Racing along, we never glance sideways. We can’t find time to stop and smell the roses — even the ones that we (OK, our high-priced gardeners) have planted and maintained.

Sure, that line about smelling roses is a cliche. But cliches are cliches for a reason. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

If you’re like many Westporters — including me — you’ve got a bucket list. There are so many things you want to do or accomplish: Visit all seven continents. Climb Machu Picchu. Win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Nobel, Pulitzer, or the lottery. (Mine includes visiting the living quarters of the White House and riding on Air Force One. Please let me know if you can help.)

But what about our Westport bucket list? What about all those things to do, see, feel, hear and experience right here in our own backyard? It’s a backyard we spend tons of money to maintain — from taxes to deer prevention — yet so much of our vision is focused elsewhere.

Think about all the things you could have done this summer but did not. As the busyness of life took over (trips to CVS and Trader Joe’s), and the business of having The Best Vacation intruded (beaches with waves, here we come!), Westport fell by the wayside.

The good news is: There’s still a day (or two) left before school starts. That’s enough time to start enjoying some of the many things that got you from Brooklyn to Westport in the first place.

For example, you can see a show. Forget Manhattan. Whether on or off Broadway, you’ll pay big ticket prices (and almost as much for parking). The Westport Country Playhouse is right here, smack in the center of town. Productions are intriguing, parking is free, and there’s a fine restaurant literally 10 steps away.

For musical entertainment, leave it to the Levitt. For four decades the pavilion has provided every genre, from rock and jazz to marching bands and zydeco. If you remember it from years ago: think again. The lawn is lush. The bugs are gone. The porta-potties are now legit bathrooms. The only thing better than all that is the admission. There is none. It’s astonishing to think about, which too few of us ever do.

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On the other side of the river — which, by the way, you can cross via a walking bridge from the eastbound side of the railroad station to East Ferry Lane, a hidden gem that every Westporter should try at least once in his or her life — there is so much to do. And I’m not talking about cookouts at Compo, golf and tennis at Longshore.

I mean, for instance, an oyster tour of Sherwood Mill Pond. Over the past few years, the Northrop family has gone back to our roots. They revived our long-dormant oyster industry. Westport oysters are sold — and revered — all over the country. Jump on their boat, learn how they farm four million oysters — and take a peek inside that mysterious Hummock Island house in the middle of the pond. It’s fascinating. And though it’s not free, you can eat as many oysters as you wish.

Oysters “r” in season at Pearl Restaurant — and others around, too. Westport’s dining scene got a (well-deserved) bad rap a few years ago. Now it’s on the rebound. New places like Amis, Jesup Hall, Jeera Thai, Boca and The ‘Port have brought life to downtown. From newcomers like Parker Mansion and Harvest to old favorites like Tutti’s and Tarantino, Saugatuck continues to thrive. The line for treats at Saugatuck Sweets is just icing on the cake.

I’ve only scratched the surface. You can rent kayaks and paddleboards at Downunder, boats at Longshore Sailing School. You can relax at Westport’s “other” beaches, Old Mill and Burying Hill. You can walk, stroll and bike anywhere in town.

Just be careful. Other people out there are so intent on racing ahead, they might not see you enjoying all that Westport offers.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.