I’m hoping that fruit flies aren’t a harbinger of the apocalypse or we’re in a heap of trouble out here on North Neck. Over the past week, if one wanted to enjoy a glass of wine, then one must be content to share their vino with our ubiquitous friends. I don’t drink much, but the fruit flies are hampering my enjoyment of my pomegranate juice. Can’t turn my back on the buggers.

We may have found the source of the plague though, and we’re sorry to report it may have its origins in one of our potatoes. We had one of those “what is that smell” days, only to discover a somewhat hollow and leaking potato. Potatoes shouldn’t leak. But potato-leek soup is quite all right.

Kim and I took another stroll down the beach to check out the dredging progress. We left our metal detectors at home, however, lest we be confused with our Floridian countrymen. The tide was abnormally high — maybe Al Gore had recently jumped in the harbor — so the beach became impassable at the Champ’s cedars that had migrated from the top of the bluff to cliff’s bottom. Not often that one sees cedar trees in the ocean, but this is Chappy. Not to be deterred, we took off our sandals, rolled up our pants and waded around the coniferous conundrum. You can’t keep good folks down. Once at the dredging locale, we marveled not only at the new beach width but the delightful quality of the sand. Who knew the gut was harboring some of our nation’s most perfect sand? The terns maybe. Probably the blues. And the crabs. But none of them are talking.

On our return trip, Kim gathered more wishstones for her collection. Wishstones are those rocks (usually gray) with a (usually) white stripe around the body. Occasionally one finds a white or brown stone with a grey stripe — a reverse wishstone (just as wish worthy, by the way). The chimney in the Big Camp is rife with wishstones, and I believe many of my ancestors’ wishes came true. We still have the Big Camp, after all. So far, Kim’s and my wishes haven’t come true (unless you count that really good piece of cake we had one day). And I’m thinking the wishstone’s powers only go so far. Immortality for our beloved cat was outside their abilities. But I wonder if the best wishes sometimes are those that aren’t fully realized. That way, they can live in the ideal, not tempered by life’s daily ordinariness. Maybe.

The clouds have set in, pouring their fog on Chappy, threatening us with rain like a parent promising punishment. I’m not sure what we did wrong.

Years ago, when we were blueberry farmers (you can see the fruits of our labor if you look carefully amid the bittersweet and hairy, tall crabgrass of the Marshall Farm), Kim and I would collect pine needles from the roadsides in bags upon bags. The needles provided the proper acidity that the blues required and thus made an excellent mulch. I had never really thought much of pine needles since the days of thatching out lean-to huts in the forests of Pittsfield with the brown needles — when kids still did such things. But collecting the needles in such bulk led me back to a question I often have on Chappy: where does all this stuff go? Oh, I’m vaguely aware of the science of decomposition and so on, but there’s so much product put out by Chappy, that it’s a wonder we’re not knee-deep in its bounty. Bittersweet berries, oak leaves, pine needles, bird droppings bird feathers, dead branches, goldenrod past its prime, grapevine, bullrushes, the list goes on. The sea may be taking away Chappy at its edges, but it’s compensating by adding layers on top.

Speaking of pine needles, I love their color now: JCrew catalog orange. They line the roads on either side like the edges of an invitation. Very welcoming to all.

I spoke to Gerry Orway the other day. Gerry and I go way back. To at least this past Tuesday. As is often the case when talking with delightful Brad, Gerry strayed off topic and told me of this weekend’s celebration of Mama Cahill’s 88th birthday (I don’t know if Gerry calls her Mama Cahill, but she is a Cahill and she is Gerry’s mom). Apparently their seaside home will be rocking with all generations of Cahill women in celebration of the advent of Mama’s 89th year. Gerry’s grandson will be joining the women, but I’m assuming he’ll be abstaining from the libations (He’s 5, 6, 7? He’s young). But who knows. This is Chappy.

I haven’t seen dear Annie H. yet this week. Not even in the road. More surprisingly, I haven’t heard her either. If you see her, give her a big third-cousin-thrice-removed hug for me.

Finally, I’d like to mention that I visited the Gazette offices with Kim this week. I was submitting paperwork for my columns (if a columnist makes more than 200k a year, they must fill out the proper forms), a process during which we had the pleasure of hanging out with the librarian in her office. I mention this because I feel that the Gazette has so much in common with Chappy. It lacks froufrou and pretension. It carries and displays its history well. And it’s a dying breed. I don’t know what the answer is to preserving the simplicity of places and things like the Gazette and Chappy, but I know we’ll all rue the departure if they were to go. I understand that newspapers are being supplanted by various lap-held-hand-held viewing devices, and that the progression is somewhat inevitable. But I can almost guarantee that we will, as a culture, spend many times the effort and money trying to recreate these relics, than it would take to preserve them. I, for one, will always care for my Chappy and read my Gazette — with very long arms.