Our island is happily soaking up the recent rain, but I’m sad to see the end of lovely sunny days warm enough to swim without freezing to death. Daylight savings doesn’t go into effect until Nov. 4.
As we approach another winter time change, hopefully everyone — especially those whose scheduled activities off Chappy end between 7:30 and 9 p.m. — already remembers that the winter ferry schedule goes into effect Sunday, Oct. 14. Time to start remembering the things we like to do on quiet evenings at home.
Potlucks at the community center offer a chance to get out of the house while staying on the island, and an easy way to get together with your fellow islanders. At the last one, hosted by Annie Heywood, there were two tables-full of fall visitors and year-rounders. Christina Brown (an honorary Chappaquiddicker) came with Mary Spencer, just home from her once-a-week commute to Nantucket for work.
Donna Kelly, of Donna Kelly Fine Gardening, came as well. Donna lives on Chappy year-round and as part of her landscaping business (located here: no need to pay ferry costs), she mentioned that she cuts trees down — in case you’re feeling a little closed in at your house.
At the potluck, we also found out that Annie had put up seven dozen jars of beach plum jelly. That’s got to be a record. Vance Packard, visiting with his wife Bonnie, asked the question of why there seemed to be so few black-back gulls this year compared to years past. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.
Sitting around the table, some of us got into a discussion of Chappy road names. Donna lives on East Cape Pogue avenue, which is more than a mile from West Cape Pogue avenue, with neither of them being anywhere near Cape Pogue. (Who named these roads, anyway?) Mary said she lives on Caleb’s Common Lane which, she says, sounds like it’s a development in Connecticut. When she said that, I realized I’d always pictured her living in a little grassy suburbanized development with white picket fences and prim flower gardens. Mary says it’s not anything like that, which made me feel relieved as I’m not in favor of suburbanizing Chappy.
I live on Knight Lane, which I’ve never been happy about. If I had a more robust ego, I’d probably like it but as it is, I feel self-conscious when I have to give my address to someone. So often the person, stranger or not, exclaims about my street address. Once someone said, “Oh! You must really be somebody!” I am somebody: a resident of a short, sandy, one-lane, dead-end dirt road on an island off another Island. It’s hard to convey to someone off-island the insignificance of my address, at least in terms of my stature in the community.
Helen Miller is temporarily residing at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She’s been there longer than expected and probably will be there for awhile more. Vance said she’d be happy to see some Chappy faces.
The next potluck at the community center is on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. It will be a special potluck in honor of Varian Cassat, longtime Chappy resident and former writer of this column, who has officially moved to Havenside in Vineyard Haven. What follows is something Varian recently wrote on having to leave Chappy:
“When we built our cottage in 1972, we could sit on our screened-in porch and watch sailboats on Cape Pogue Pond; beyond was the ocean. Occasionally, a vehicle would be on The Trustees of Reservations beach property. On clear nights, we watched lights on Nantucket turn on, one by one. Gradually our water view disappeared as trees grew taller, lending a new loveliness to our site.
“I have a water view again, but alas, not from Chappy. My largest window overlooks the busy Vineyard Haven harbor. I watch the big ferries arrive and depart; I see sailboats in harbor and I watch fisher folk setting out early for the day’s catch. I love being here. I love the water view and I love the amenities that are close. Within walking distance are an Episcopal Church, the library, a drugstore and a bookstore.
“Yet, I miss Chappy like crazy. I miss riding the ferry and getting the news of the day from fellow passengers. I miss Fishermen’s Park. I especially miss the camaraderie of knowing I live on an island off a bigger Island.
“Martha’s Vineyard is well-known as a caring community, but we here on Chappy have developed the art of caring to perfection. We know how to care for one another without being invasive or intrusive. I like to think it all began with the Jeffers, Harding, Bettencourt, Silva and Welch families and that Chappy people saw that it was good and so continued it. The people who helped me this summer are legion!
“I’ll attend the potlucks and sessions of the book club even as I realize I’ll always be a guest rather than a resident. I have one request! Please take good care of Chappy for me; it will always be home.”