I am on the Steamship ferry, crossing over to America for a dental appointment and contemplating how strange this life is where every trip home is marked by a journey over water. I have been making this trip back and forth from the mainland for sixteen years, eight of which have included the shorter, nearly daily passages to and from Chappaquiddick. These trips have become so routine that I can now go weeks, months, even, before I remember that for most, our Island passages are far from normal.

The reminders come each time a friend arrives on the Island for a first-time visit. I find myself explaining, once again, the intricacies of catching the ferry, the first from Woods Hole and then the second from Edgartown, patiently walking each traveler through the daunting and often arduous task of lining up planes and buses and boats. These friends arrive, laughing, amused by the 527-foot crossing to Chappaquiddick and questioning why there is no bridge. “There will never be a bridge,” I have explained countless times over the years.

You can mark the seasons by the ferries. Summer, the boats are full, passengers spilling onto the decks in flip-flops and sun hats. Cars are loaded with bike racks and barking dogs, with kayaks lashed on top. Today, a blue-sky, windy, winter day, drivers roll their windows down just enough to slip their tickets through to the collector before heading up the ramp onto the ferry. Mostly Islanders, passengers greet each other warmly as they head to doctors’ appointments, day trips and extended vacations. One brave and bundled passenger stands outside on the deck, until a sudden dip of the boat sends a spray of seawater over him and he flees inside.

I see a fellow farmer friend who is also headed to the dentist. “Guess this is the time of year for farmers to take care of these things,” she says brightly.

On my return trip, the man next to me is headed home from a week’s vacation in Florida, where much to his disappointment, it was in the 30s every night of his visit. A contractor, he is already back to work, returning a few phone calls and asking those who answer, “What can I do for you?” He listens for a beat or two and then replies, to each one, “Yep, yep. OK, I can make that happen this week.”

When I remind myself that most humans do not have a ferry ride (or two) home at the end of their day, I am grateful that this is our normal. When I lived on the “Big Island,” sometimes I could go for too long without connecting with the ocean; now, I have that opportunity nearly every day, the chance to monitor wind and tide and sky as I pass back and forth between the two Islands.

Last week, my daughter and I made our way to Quommox to walk the newly-constructed labyrinth built by the Chasin family. Juna held my hand and stayed on the path with me for half the journey, then slipped off to play on the new split-rail fence while I continued along to the end. It is sited well, with the beautiful, open field ahead running down to the water’s edge. It is open to the public, and the family hopes it will be a place of solace for many.

The next Chappy Community Center potluck is Wednesday March 18 and the next Chappy Art Night is Thursday March 19, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. On Saturday March 14 at 7 p.m., the Trustees and the Chappy Community Center are presenting the film Keep to the Light for Women’s History Month.