The past year caused a chaos within ourselves likely unmatched by anything we’ve experienced prior. As a collective, we were overwhelmed by the news, isolation, death, fear — the list of pessimistic pandemic associations goes on. It left us in a wake of distress, frazzled, and in need of an emotional recovery, as much as a physical one.
The end of Mental Health Awareness Month happens to be in alignment with America’s reopening, and thus recovery, in a post pandemic world. However, (without sounding too cliche) mental health matters more now than ever. We’ve been conditioned to stare at screens, cover our faces, and live in fear of what’s beyond our front doors. As we return to the world we’ve known, we cannot ignore the trauma of what we experienced and the toll it has taken on our overall health — maybe 2021 should be declared Mental Health Awareness Year.
As our lives return to a new normal, we will, undoubtedly, be more conscious of our overall health. Defined by the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” So the question lies in: why do so many of us hyper-focus on physical wellness and treat social and mental health as secondary? This summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, my column will feature ways to stay healthy physically, socially, and mentally.
Fortunately, there is a place to visit that addresses all three: LongHouse Reserve.
The LongHouse Experience
LongHouse Reserve is a 16-acre property and sculpture garden, located in East Hampton, centered around its art and garden installations. It’s best described as spiritual therapy, an immersive experience that excites the senses and calms the mind.
According to Holger Winenga, horticulturist, LongHouse has thousands upon thousands of flora varieties — daffodils, hellebores, hardy geraniums, sweet pepper bushes, butterfly bushes, to name a few, and the collection continues to grow. Upon first glance, the natural beauty is positively overwhelming. The areas of First Lawn and Peter’s Pond are vibrant and expansive, where open fields of East Hampton meet picturesque beauty reminiscent of Monet’s Gardens.
There’s an abundance of wildlife — bullfrogs, painted turtles, toads, box turtles, garter snakes, eastern cottontail rabbits. Overhead, watch robins, catbirds, chickadees, cardinals, and Baltimore orioles (bird, not baseball) fly into the trees. The sensation of being among the fauna provides a greater perception of self-awareness as they all move about undisturbed, as you are in their environment.
Some LongHouse sculpture installations are permanent, while others are displayed seasonally. Work highlights include pieces from Willem de Kooning, Yoko Ono, Daniel Arsham, and Buckminster Fuller. Riddled throughout the property are benches and chairs for guests to sit back and enjoy the view with loved ones, although some of them are confused for the art installations themselves (guilty).
The LongHouse experience is emotionally, mentally, and thus physically healing. Akin to a Band-aid for the soul. To simply call it a sculpture garden would underrate all the benefits it provides, beyond what the eye can see.
LongHouse Reserve is located at 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton. There are timed-ticket reservations available. Each time slot is for one hour and 15 minutes, but it’s understandable to linger a little longer. Contact them at 631-329-3568 | firstname.lastname@example.org.