Even when the snow flies and there is a bitter cold blast of wind from the north, when icicles hang from the roofs, Island workshops are busy.
At John Thayer’s Vineyard Haven workshop near the shore of Lagoon Pond, the garage door rattles loudly when a cold easterly breeze blows across the pond. A westerly wind rattles the back door. Mr. Thayer makes custom furniture and cabinetry.
“This is the time of year, when we wear multi-layers, some of L.L. Bean’s best,” he said on a recent morning when the temperature outdoors was in the low teens.
Next door to Mr. Thayer Rick Brown of Far Cry Boatyard is cleaning up his shop and preparing for spring. A year ago, he had plenty of boats to build, but this winter has been quiet. A large photograph of a 40-foot schooner named Lilly he built in 1978 is on display, a reminder of another season.
Over on Breakdown Lane metal artisan Whitney Hanschka starts his morning with a steaming thermos of green tea. He hovers over a hot forge that reaches 2,000 degrees. On some days, he will go through a bag and a half of smithing coal. Each bag weighs 50 pounds.
This has been a good winter for ice on the ponds, and Mr. Hanschka said on a few occasions, before coming to work and before taking his two young children to school, they’ve gone ice skating. “We do a dawn patrol,” he said.
For two weeks, Mr. Hanschka has worked on two original fleur de lis tables. If the air gets well above freezing outside and the wind is light, Mr. Hanschka said he will open the overhead door.
A change of season is already in the air. “I am feeling it; the phone thinks spring,” he said.
Near the end of Fuller street in Edgartown Ken Lobdell stands in what was once Joe Mello’s boat shed. The large 120-foot long building is the home of Taylor Woodworking. Mr. Lobdell hovers over architect’s drawings of a wall of cabinets and bookshelves that will be built in the shop for a private home.
An eight-year-old mastiff named Kodiak guards the door. Kodiak’s bark is louder than the overhead heater, or the sanding and sawing machinery.
“It is nice being inside and not on a roof somewhere,” said Tom Taylor, owner of the business.
— Mark Alan Lovewell