My husband and I left the Vineyard for a monthlong stay on a small island off the Gulf coast at the end of February. Now it is almost April, and I am astonished that the current headlines and emails about the Vineyard’s weather are similar to the ones I read when I was home in January and February. For example, the Peter H. Luce Play Readers group I am in sent out a flurry of emails between Jan. 20 and 23. We were scheduled on Jan. 23 to read The Women by Claire Booth Luce, a play with an abundant number of female characters. All the women in the group had at least one part. Linda, the conscientious director, sent an email alert on Monday, Jan. 20, two days before our regular Wednesday morning meeting.
“Looks like we may have a potential issue for this Wednesday’s play reading. At the moment, the prediction is calling for six to 10 inches of snow over Tuesday night and through Wednesday morning. This could prevent the attendance of some, if not many, of us.”
One of the early replies to Linda’s note came from Sofia, our resident comedian. Linda had assigned her a major part which Joan Crawford had played in a film version of The Women in 1939.
“Joan Crawford here, if I can’t get out of my driveway would someone pick me up and take me to the theatre?”
Though the play readers meet weekly at the senior center in Tisbury, we have members from all over the Island. Connie, a faithful member from far away Chilmark was thinking ahead.
“I’m planning on leaving my car at the top of my driveway [tonight] so as to get my best shot at coasting to town in the morning. Optimistically, Connie.”
Another Chilmark resident in our group suggested he might make a reservation at the Mansion House on Tuesday night.
Arnie, one of the few play readers with a career in radio, television and theatre who seems to have adopted a hobby as a weather reporter, shot off an email.
“They’re now saying the snow will start on the Cape and Islands tomorrow around 1 p.m. and go for 12 hours straight, leaving us with 12 inches of snow by midday Wednesday. In addition, there will be high winds with gusts up to 50 mph Wednesday. So they’re saying.”
Immediately after Arnie’s report, Risë, a practical, no-nonsense lawyer, sent the facts as she saw them.
“We will get an inch of rain on Tuesday and two to four inches of snowfall on Wednesday.”
She’s from Chicago and has had experience with lake effect snow.
Emails flew back and forth all day on Jan. 21. “How will we know?” “When will we know?” “Will the senior center open anyway?”
I remained calm. I’d had over 30 years of experience with snow events in the Berkshires and Vermont. The Vineyard is flat in comparison.
Arnie elected to conduct research. He walked from his home, near the center of Tisbury, to the senior center and the town hall. His email informed us of his findings.
“We will know in the morning. I will call either the town hall or the senior center and I will blitz all of you in the a.m.”
Meanwhile, Eric, another no-nonsense lawyer, made me laugh when I read his opinion.
“You’re all a bunch of chumps. I lived in Buffalo for eight years. The amount of snow we’re expecting would be considered flurries in Buffalo!”
By late afternoon on Tuesday, Connie was rethinking her plan to park the car at the top of the driveway.
The frenetic exchanges among the play readers ended when the director made an announcement at the end of the day on Tuesday. “OFFICIAL: The women in this play are on hiatus until February and will reprise their roles with fervor on both Feb. 19 and Feb. 26 — here’s hoping you all have a fabulously cozy, windy, whirling winter’s eve!”
Now, here I am, still in Florida, two months out from January. It’s March 25 and the national weather channel is tracking the route of a northeaster roaring up the East Coast right over Martha’s Vineyard. My emails are clattering with headlines: Storm Winds, Rough Seas Suspend Island Ferry Service and Island Schools will be Closed on Wednesday. My neighbor in Tashmoo Wood sends me a photograph of a blur of snow sailing across the bow of my back deck. And Arnie has issued a weather report via email to the Vineyard Village at Home drivers.
“It’s hard to tell if anyone will be able to go anywhere tomorrow. Alerts are already being issued for shutting down ferries and planes due to possible gale-force winds and drifting snow.”
So steeped in the weather headlines and emails since I left the Vineyard, that as I write this on my porch overlooking the Gulf, I hear a garbage truck and for a flash I thought it was a snowplow.
Judith Miller lives in Vineyard Haven.