Jenna Zadeh, back home after graduating from Westfield State with a degree in music education, found herself in charge of an unexpected group of young ones on Sunday. When she went out that evening, she saw four baby skunks roaming as a pack around her yard.
At first they seemed to be chasing her, but then she realized they just wanted to follow her. Their instincts were to follow their mother, who would be showing them where to find grubs and other food. Jenna’s instinct was to take care of these cute little animals who were very much like kittens, so she found a box to put them in.
The next day, lawn work was being done at the Zadehs’ and Patty had said they weren’t allowed in the house, so the skunks went to visit the Thacher/Becker yard. Claire called me for the phone number of Luanne Johnson who has been doing skunk research on the Vineyard for the past five years. Luanne said that at the size they were – about 6 inches, not including the tail – the mother may have been ready to kick them out on their own, or she may have been watching from the woods. Unless a male skunk is attacking, the mother is not likely to be aggressive. She also said that the skunks were fully armed at this age, although their aim might not be that good. Claire told everyone, “Let’s not irritate them.”
Luanne suggested giving them something to eat and drink, and then leaving them on the lawn at dusk and the mother might come for them. She also said they needed to nap, since that’s mostly what they do during the day. When the kits were left to themselves, one by one they fell asleep in a pile, as Luanne had said they would.
By Tuesday night the skunks were still there on the Zadehs’ lawn, in the little box house with a door that Jenna had rigged up for them. She’d left water and food, but the skunks, like some young babies, were on the opposite sleep schedule — they had already gotten used to playing during the day and sleeping at night. At this rate, Jenna may end up parenting them until she leaves for Arizona to attend graduate school in Flagstaff in the fall. Maybe the skunk who’s living in my yard would like to babysit.
Baby skunks don’t have many predators, but probably an eagle like the one Larry and Beth Simms have seen twice near their place overlooking Poucha Pond would be happy for such a meal. Larry reports the eagle flew through the trees to sit in a branch for awhile, which allowed them to examine it. It was huge and dark with white on the tail. I’ve heard of other sightings of a raptor like this — larger than the more common osprey and redtail hawks — on the island recently, too.
Pinned to the bulletin board on the ferry house at the Point is a photo of Charlie Ross and Peter Wells under the umbrella where Charlie has been selling ferry T-shirts and hats on weekends. In the photo, donuts are suspended near mouths. It’s a picture Kim Morse took with the digital camera owned by Bob Gilkes, to try it out, and Bob posted it with the caption, “If it’s Sunday, thank the Ordways.” Evidently the Ordways bring a box of donuts to the ferry workers every week.
This spring when we’ve driven through town to the ferry, we’ve had to keep alert to Peter’s sign on the corner of Main and Peases Point Way to know where the cars would be lining up to get on the ferry that day. (Lining up on Dock street again brought back old memories.)
Between underground electric lines being installed and brick sidewalks being reconstructed, the stretch of road in front of the library has been blocked many days. When it wasn’t being dug up, the number of potholes proliferated, so it’s very nice to finally have smooth pavement and a real sidewalk there. I’m sure the library is grateful that its patrons who drive there will finally be able to reach it and actually enter the parking lot. The library is open again daily at 10 a.m. except for being closed Sunday and Monday.
Peter’s mother, Polly Wells, is here from New Jersey visiting Peter and Sally for a couple of weeks. She has been coming to Chappy in the summers since about 1925. She arrived with Peter’s sisters, Martha and Patricia, who stayed for the weekend.
Kevin Keady, who works as a farm hand at Pimpneymouse Farm and has a band called The Cattle Drivers, says he’s found a good balance between work in music and in farming. The band plays music at the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market during the summer, and Kevin will be releasing a fourth album in August.
Jo-Ann Tilghman will be taking over the column again this summer, beginning next Friday. She wrote it last summer and kept us informed about all the happenings at the community center and elsewhere, and gave me a break from the weekly deadline. I plan to return to writing the column in the fall.
I will be the coordinator at the community center again this summer, with the help of Molly Sullivan, who will work in the office and who will also help Barton and J.J. Phinney with sailing instruction. Donna DeFrancis will return as tennis instructor — thanks to the Tilghmans for use of their court. The Trustees of Reservations will be holding programs for children, and also some new ones, including a composting workshop.
There is a large range of activities and events scheduled at the community center in July and August, including ice cream socials, the annual fair, films, farmers’ markets, lobster roll dinners, crafts, and concerts. The calendar on the Web site (chappycommunitycenter.org) will have the dates and times. Tai Chi class has already started on Wednesdays at 8 a.m., all levels. The programs and events are open to anyone visiting or living on Chappy. Wireless Internet is available 24 hours a day on the porch, no password needed, and the library, open mornings in the summer, has many books about the island, nature guides, and good books for the beach.
The mission statement of the community center (which is a different organization from the Chappaquiddick Island Association) says that it was built to encourage a sense of neighborliness, a spirit of community, and a greater appreciation and awareness of Chappaquiddick and its environment. Its support comes completely from its subscribers and other donations of the people who visit or live here.
The last community center potluck of the season will be next Wednesday, June 18, starting at 6 p.m. Sarah Trudel and her family will be the guests of honor. Sarah is the new Chappy superintendent for the Trustees of Reservations, taking Dave Belcher’s place. Sue and Will Geresy will be the hosts. All are welcome.