Chappaquiddick in January is quiet. We expect it to be quiet, and we relish it, or suffer through it — or some of both. It’s an interior time for many of us: inside the house, inside the head; although this winter has made being outside more appealing than usual. So far in this year of 2013, we’ve already been through winter, and have moved on to spring, all in less than two weeks. After the new year, the smaller ponds and swamps froze up solid enough for a brief skating period, but now the temperatures have risen well into the forties and the first snow drops are already out in West Tisbury. No doubt, we’ll cycle through winter again many times before it finally leaves us sometime in April.
It’s quiet at my house because there are no goats in heat, and the chickens are hiding in the bushes because one of their flock was killed by a hawk. Elliot had seen a small hawk in the yard recently, and I’d noticed the chickens had stopped hanging out with the wild birds at the feeder where they like to wait for seeds to drop. The hawk was patient, though, and finally got Wonder, one of the chickens we inherited from Slip Away Farm.
My usual walk takes me to the shores of Cape Pogue Pond where the Land Bank owns a stretch of land they’ve cleared to make lovely vistas out over the pond. One still morning recently I was enjoying the solitary quiet on the beach — until someone arrived who seemed to be in the midst of a one-on-one dog training session. I started feeling grumpy listening to constant dog corrections, but then the solitary loon out on the water began its unmistakeable, eerie warble. Evidently, the tremolo, or “laugh,” signals alarm or worry, so thanks to the dog couple, I got to hear one of my favorite sounds in nature.
Further down the beach I came upon a new sight. In front of where the Heywoods’ house once stood, on a stretch of rocky shore, someone (or more than one) has been busy creating a rock balancing sculpture, which happens to be my favorite beach pastime. It has transformed the beach into a sculpture garden that invites participation.
Speaking of public participation, a ways down the beach on a little marsh island there is a conch tree installation. Years ago my mother began hanging horseshoe crab shells she’d find on the beach onto the broken branches of a sassafras tree along the path. When the crabs were overfished and their shed shells no longer found in abundance on the beach, the tree transformed into a conch tree. Over time the phenomenon spread, and now conch trees line the path all the way through the little island, and have even spread across the marsh.
Slip Away Farm has CSA (community supported agriculture) shares available to purchase for the 2013 growing season. One of the reasons for buying a share, according to Lily Walter, owner of Slip Away, is to: “receive an abundance of fresh, organically-grown vegetables, herbs and flowers weekly at a bargain rate without ever leaving Chappaquiddick.” That right there seems like reason enough to me! However, you can also “get to know us — your farmers (Lily, Christian, Collins and Jason) — personally. Meet and greet your neighbors and friends at our weekly CSA distribution days and farm events. Financially support our start-up farm business. Have priority access to share add-ons like our own farm eggs.” There are a number of types of shares available, from an 11-week half-share (feeds two to three people), to a 15-week full-share (feeds four or five people). Pickup will be on Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. during the season. In order to reserve a share with payment by the Feb. 28 deadline, you can contact Lily at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 508-627-7465, or look on the website for more information: slipawayfarm.blogspot.com.
Molly Peach, educator for TTOR, is inviting everyone to a family program she’ll be giving at the Long Point reserve on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to noon. At Geology Rocks you can discover the Vineyard’s geological past by exploring the coastal beaches and unique sandplain grasslands with Molly, including a scavenger hunt. The event is free, but pre-registration is recommended. She suggests you dress warmly; hot drinks will be provided. Meet at the winter entrance parking lot. For more information or registration call 693-7662. When the weather warms up, Molly and Peter Wells will offer a tour of the Cape Pogue lighthouse for Chappy kids.
Luanne Johnson, director and wildlife biologist for BiodiversityWorks, writes that the Christmas Bird Count on mainland Chappy on Dec. 29th included 58 species. Luanne was joined by Liz Baldwin and Liz Loucks, along with Skip Bettencourt and Nancy Hugger who reported merlin, red-winged blackbird, Eastern screech owl and great-horned owl. Lanny McDowell covered the beaches and found the additional species of black scoter and white-winged scoter. Edo and Bob Potter fed the birders a much appreciated lunch at the Pimpneymouse Farm. You can ask Luanne for the entire list at email@example.com.
The first potluck of the year at the Chappy Community Center will be hosted by Fran and Bob Clay, on Wednesday, Jan. 16 starting at 6 p.m. with appetizers. Bring a main dish, side dish or dessert to share. All are welcome. The CCC board would like to thank Donna Kelly for donating a new set of fireplace tools, which are proving to be very handy. They would like to make an appeal for firewood to keep that fireplace warm! Also, they are looking for more volunteers to host potlucks in February.