This past Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., there was not a single car parked in the tar lot at the ferry on the Chappaquiddick side — a sign of how quiet the island has grown as we head into the darkest stretch of the year. Although the days keep getting shorter until Dec. 21, the sun will start to set later as of Dec. 15. The season makes up for the lack of daylight with all the holiday lights and activities. As greens appeared on lamp posts and picket fences around town, the seasonal decorations seemed more and more incongruous as the week went on and the weather turned warm enough to see a ferry captain in a T-shirt. It reminded me of being in southern California at this time of year, and how odd it was to see Christmas lights in the palm trees.
The highway department has been at work putting up the small trees along Main and North Water streets this week and they should be decorated in time for Christmas in Edgartown, which is this weekend. You can find a listing of events on the Edgartown Board of Trade website. There is no shortage of events, fairs, sales and open houses. The Trustees will be giving tours out to the Chappy lighthouse on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., complete with hot chocolate and blankets. You can make reservations by calling 508-627-3599, or meet at the Chappy Ferry on Dock street.
At the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, where an exhibit on Chappy Ferry history will be up through Dec. 22, A Kid’s Look at the Chappy Ferry will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., free admission. Peter Wells and The Chappy Ferry Book author Tom Dunlop will be on hand to talk about the history of the ferry, while kids get to illustrate their own version of the ferry in the exhibit space.
The parade is on Saturday at 11 a.m. on Main street. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to see Sidney and the Farm Institute team of oxen, Zeus and Apollo, pulling a cart. Sidney and Scottie, who has been helping to train the oxen, did a test run on Main street early last Sunday morning. The oxen have been to the agricultural fair for a couple of years and often been around crowds of people, but they had never been on a street with buildings on both sides. Their trial run went fine — except, after turning around at Dock street to come back up Main toward home, they took off at such a clip that Sidney and Scottie had to run them into the ATM machine to get them to slow down. I remember our pony, Topper, was the same way when I was a little kid. I’d have to work so hard to get him to go anywhere, but as soon as I’d turn back toward home he would take off at a teeth-clattering trot, and I’d be hanging on for dear life all the way back to the barn.
The Chappy Community Center is a busy place in December, relatively speaking. The ferry captain and crew appreciation potluck happened this past Wednesday, and work on the building has continued, thanks to your generous contributions to the Cressy Building Fund. The whole deck was resurfaced and looks beautiful. Half the clerestory windows have been replaced and a new furnace and dishwasher put in. Contributions are welcome toward the remainder of the to-do list.
The holiday tea is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. Wreaths and greens will decorate the community center where high tea will be served from silver tea pots, along with sweets and sandwiches. All ages (and sexes) are invited, and hot chocolate with whipped cream will be served for those who don’t like tea. The caffeine and sugar always make this a lively event. On the calendar for later in December is the annual Christmas Eve dinner, which takes place on Dec. 24 beginning at 6 p.m. Clam chowder, turkey, ham, salad and mashed potatoes will be served and all of Chappy, including guests, are invited.
Luanne Johnson, director and wildlife biologist with BiodiversityWorks, put out a newsletter about the wildlife projects and young biologists mentoring that she and Liz Baldwin are doing. You can read about their Island otters study, and find out about opportunities to volunteer in their shorebird and otter work by going to their web site: biodiversityworksmv.org. Luanne reminds us that “it only takes a few minutes of observing our furred and feathered friends outdoors to bring your body, mind and spirit into a peaceful and relaxed state” as we head into this hectic month of celebrations.
This past weekend Sidney and I played the grandparents in the annual Nutcracker production at the performing arts center. Julie Olson, who works with Sidney at The FARM Institute, was our daughter. She used to come over from the Cape every year to dance with the ballet school when she was a kid. Our role consisted of walking on stage like old people — which wasn’t all that hard — and sitting on the couch watching the cavorting youngsters. If you haven’t been to the production before, you might not know that your plumber — if he’s Jeffrey Enos, Plumber of Last Resort — plays Mother Ginger, complete with beard. He/she comes on stage on stilts with a slew of tiny children hidden under his/her skirts, who then come out and dance around in the way that tiny children do on stage, mostly standing and looking lost or waving to their parents.
If you don’t regularly drive through Oak Bluffs after dark, this is a good time of year to make a point of doing so. Ocean Park, which by day is grazing pasture to a large flock of Canada geese, by night becomes a fairly land of Christmas trees outlined by colored lights.