Spring came this past week, finally, with all its interest for the senses. Chappaquiddick’s many late-leafing oaks still give the woods a wintery look. The honeysuckle and low bushes along the roadsides are covered with tiny vibrant green leaves, and the grass has a brilliant glow. The fragrant mayflowers, or trailing arbutus, can be found at the edges of dirt roads where there’s not too much sun. When you smell these tiny pink or white flowers, you can understand why they were chosen as our state flower. The shadbush, or wild pear, is later in blooming this year, but with the warm, sunny days this week, it looks ready to burst into flower.
The chorus of birds begins at about 5 a.m., making it hard to sleep any later. I like lying in bed listening to their concert, though. On Tuesday evening we heard a whippoorwill near the house, a rare occurrence in recent years. Twenty-five years ago, the whippoorwills were so plentiful that it was hard to go to sleep at night. There used to be one right outside our bedroom window, which I’d yell at and it would shut up for a minute. Now I’d be happy to try to sleep to a whippoorwill lullaby.
The seagulls are back in numbers. The tar road is littered with broken shells from the ferry to Litchfield, the leftovers from the gulls’ meals. A night heron has been fishing at the beach next to the ferry slip in the evening, and a great egret can be seen working the marshes at Caleb’s Pond.
Spring brings the ants to life, too, and the big ones have arrived in our kitchen. Elliot first saw them marching in close formation up the outside trim of the kitchen window one morning. In a short time they were pouring through a tiny gap in the ceiling, down the wall, and spreading out across the counter. We’ve had tiny ants for years, sometimes even all year long, but the big ants (really, they’re medium-sized) just started last spring. With the little ants, I can pretend they’re not really living creatures, and sweep them up with the crumbs. The big ants are wily, though, and they try to get away. It’s much more unsettling to kill them, or even suck them up with the vacuum, which is what we did during the initial invasion. My mother liked to tell a story about something I said to Lily when she was little and sitting on the counter with some ants nearby. As I did away with an ant or two, my mother says I said, “I’m not trying to hurt the ants, Lily, I’m just trying to kill them.”
There will be a special preseason spring cleanup at Mytoi gardens on Saturday, May 4 between 9:00 a.m. and noon. You can bring work gloves; they will supply the rakes and other tools. Lindsay Allison says “We hope to see many of the visitors who enjoy the gardens come to help us.”
The May 1 potluck at the community center was hosted by John and Dot Dropick. The next one will be on Wednesday, May 15, starting at 6 p.m. All are welcome. The CCC would like to thank Donna Kelly for her donation of a file cabinet and fireplace tools, and thanks everyone who made possible the refinishing of the beautiful bamboo floor in the main room. Coordinator Lynn Martinka reports that the warmer weather has brought out some basketball players on the court across the street.
Chappaquiddick continues to appear in the off-Island news due to interest in the Schifter house move. The house and grounds have been surrounded with a temporary fence while work goes on. The guest house has been moved, as well as part of the neighboring Leland house. You can see the digging done around the main house, which will be moved complete with full basement, on the Chappy Ferry Facebook page, which is kept up to date by The Chappy Ferry Book author Tom Dunlop. There’s a couple of great aerial shots taken by Bill Brine, including one of the Schifters’ main house, and one of the Norton Point opening as it makes its way toward connecting at Wasque Point. The site also has tons of great shots of the ferry, the lighthouse, and the harbor at dawn, sunset and other times.
Bob O’Rourke has sent around a cable update from the CIA. Regarding the need for 270 households to subscribe initially, it reads, “Through volunteer outreach efforts this winter, over 100 residents have expressed to us a willingness to join,” and reminds us there will be no chance of cabling for another 10 years if the number isn’t reached. “Whether your interest is work, business, maintenance of property values, distance learning, travel, rental home service, or just the comfort and convenience for our children and grandchildren, this has to be a community venture to succeed.”
Bob says homeowners could save $720 in two years over present nationwide telephone and DSL service at 2.7 mbps. He says, “The bundling of services will be cheaper and will increase basic Internet speed to 20 mbps.”
CIA outreach efforts have produced some other developments. Some generous residents have offered to pay the initial $2,139 fee for others who need the service but are unable to contribute. A local bank is considering a lower interest loan structure to help finance this and other related island projects. A local subcontractor will provide additional conduit placement, if needed, at a reasonable and competitive price.
A summary of the Comcast contract reads “Comcast will notify all homeowners within the next two months to ascertain the willingness to become a subscriber. Homeowners must respond within four months. Residents must agree to pay a one-time fee of $2,139 and commit to a two-year deal. Guesthouses will not be charged an additional fee. Seasonal residents may reduce off-season subscription to basic maintenance rates ($23 monthly), with seasonal rates applying after two years. Comcast does not charge for standard line installation within 250 aerial feet and 150 underground feet of a residence. Comcast will complete construction surveys within three months of receipt of a commitment letter. Homeowners may use existing conduits or provide their own conduit construction. The entire process should not take more then 16 months.” You can contact the CIA with questions, suggestions or for help: Dennis Goldin at firstname.lastname@example.org; Bob O’Rourke at email@example.com; Johathan Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org; Woody Filley at email@example.com.
Last weekend, 13 Chappy kids and their parents enjoyed a trip to the Cape Pogue Lighthouse, organized by Peter Wells and led by TTOR educator Molly Peach. The next trip may be a special voyage on the Chappy ferry, including a chance to find out what goes on below deck.