Spring is upon us. There are many signs, some of which seem to conflict with the thermometer reading. Just within the last few days the ferry captain on the afternoon shift has been able to get home before darkness sets in. I have seen the new 2014 seed catalogs at friends’ houses. The full moon in mid March is known as the Worm Moon, in contrast to the recent Snow Moon of this month. Though the fields at Slipaway Farm are covered in snow, the hen house is a real crowd scene with at least four dozen hens all talking at once. The farm needs egg cartons as you can imagine. Please save yours and drop them off at the farm stand. I wish to thank my granddaughters’ first grade teacher for instilling the beginnings of a sense of history in their very busy brains. I asked them why they weren’t in school on Monday and they replied in unison, “It’s Presidents Day!” I inquired as to what that meant. They explained that it was for George Washington — he being the first president, and for Abe Lincoln — he being the 16th president. The adults in the room looked at one another in awed silence. I saw delight on their grandmother’s face. Sally and all of her siblings learned the order of the presidents early on in life while milking the family cow, both activities being highly valued by their father. How a teacher could manage to get a word in edgewise in a classroom full of six-year-olds is baffling to me, but to somehow hold their attention long enough to impart to them the fact that Lincoln was the 16th president is a modern day miracle. I realize that at this point it may be just a memorized tidbit of history, but it’s a great start.
On Sunday I attended the movie matinee with my five grandchildren and my daughters. We saw an animated film about a rebellion in Legoland. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many dads there with their kids. I usually only see most of these guys operating excavators or behind the wheels of big trucks. It was amusing to watch them negotiate with their kids at the candy stand. I still have the very catchy theme song running through my head.
Chappaquiddickers Abigail Chandler and Jared Livingston were instrumental in the successful production of the musical Cats at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center this past weekend. The show came off without a hitch, even with the postponement of a performance caused by the snowstorm. Abigail conducted the band and Jared portrayed Bustofer Jones.
Next time you see Jennifer Morgan, please thank her for keeping the Chappy roads plowed during last weekend’s snowstorm. It was her inaugural run as plow operator, with only a very brief lesson just before the snow began to fall Saturday evening. When the sky cleared at 3 a.m. Sunday, the full moon shown upon the dark south sides of tree trunks in sharp contrast with their snow-packed north sides. The heavy snow bent tree limbs low enough over the roads to brush the snow from car roofs. I’m certain that the recent trimming along Chappy’s power lines contributed to our uninterrupted service. My fire department pager crackled with requests for fire chiefs across the Vineyard to investigate reports of downed wires or limbs afire, none of which were on Chappy. The dirt roads have been alternating between glare ice, half-foot deep slush and frozen ruts as the sunshine comes and goes. Any of those conditions are still better than the muddy mess that comes after a thaw.
Erosion at Wasque continues steadily but moderately. Grain by grain, 24 hours a day the upland falls into the sea. Fortunately the last three storms blew from the north. Chris Kennedy moved the snow fence barrier at Fisherman’s Landing back to the wire gate as trees drop over the edge one by one. The over-sand vehicle trails are mostly open at the moment, but beware of snow in the ruts. The last two snowfalls have held on much longer than usual. Midweek the outer beach was still frozen solid. Even if this enables you to drive 50, remember that the speed limit is 15 year-round. Reminds me of the old days when thick harbor ice kept the ferry from running and Gerry Jeffers would take two-wheel drive cars across the mostly frozen beach to town for those who really needed to get a vehicle off of Chappy. Apparently momentum was a key factor in successfully getting past the soft spots. And apparently that momentum came from the high rate of speed with which Gerry traversed the undulating deeply rutted trails and wave-gullied beaches.
Occasionally the over-sand trails and beach routes out to Cape Pogue become impassable for four-wheel drive vehicles following a snowstorm. With almost three miles of snowdrifts to overcome, Rachel Self has resorted to starting her commute off-island with a tractor ride from her house at Shear Pen Pond to the Dike Bridge. I wonder what thoughts go through a snowy owl’s mind at the sight of Bill Gazaille and Rachel all bundled up, chugging along in the early morning dawn.