The Chappy Community Center held its annual meeting last Saturday, August 11, with a large group of subscribers in attendance. I heard a few things that I think the Chappy community should know. First, subscriptions to the CCC are down. This is a surprise, since the CCC provides so many activities and programs in the summer, as well as throughout the year. Second, numbers of kids taking sailing lessons are down, mostly because kids have “aged out.” Once they become 16, they get summer jobs and don’t have time for sailing. So, it’s time for those of us with young children and grandchildren to consider sailing lessons with the CCC for next year. They’ve had a top-notch instructor and program this summer, complete with an end of year picnic and T-shirts.

Most important, the CCC building is now 20 years old and, like all of us, beginning to show its age. The board established the Cressy Building Fund to handle large projects such as replacement of the original furnace and eight clerestory windows. That’s just for starters. Donations have been good and much appreciated, but it would be great if everyone who uses the center would chip in.

And finally, officers and the board of directors were elected for the coming year. They are: Marvene O’Rourke, president; Sue Phinney, vice president; Fran Clay, secretary; Melissa Kagan, treasurer. Board members are Laura Pla, Susie Lindenberg, Dot Dropick, Nancy Slate and Tina Treyz. Many thanks to Sharlee Livingston and Flo Johnson for six years of service to the community and to the center.

Edgartown’s Alina Wen won the fourth annual Chappy Pong table tennis tourney on August 12 with a 3-1 match victory over Gary Block of Coventry, R.I. Wen won every game in four matches to reach the final. Semi-finalists were Albert Lau of Oak Bluffs and Warren Spector of Chilmark. In the under-12-year-old division, Chase Connolly of Wilton, Conn. took first place, winning 3-1 over sister Libby Connolly.

Year-round Chappaquiddicker Dale Carter rides her tricycle from her house to the ferry several times a week. This is a queen-sized version, not your little kid’s trike. The round trip is over six miles, at least one mile of it on the sandy Dyke Road. Last week she was headed home in a rainstorm. I have witnesses that will testify that I asked her twice if I could give her a ride home. Both times she brushed me off. “My knapsack is waterproof. I’ll be fine. It’s just water.” This is a good example of Chappy independence. She knows that she can do it; the rain just gives the ride another facet. I know that she got to see things that I missed from the shelter of my truck. There were probably frogs hopping across the wet pavement. She would have noticed when the rain let up slightly as she passed under the overhanging branches, or when the drops suddenly got much bigger when the wind shook the water off of those same branches. Whenever I get the chance to ride my bike I am pleasantly re-surprised by the great variety of wildflowers along the road.

After that big rain, it seemed to me that the mushrooms fairly leapt out of the ground. Overnight there were suddenly dozens of them in my yard. I’m pretty certain that I know less about the different types of mushrooms than most fifth graders. But I do know enough to keep my hands off of them. Many of them can make you quite sick even if you just get their slime on your lips. Cats and dogs can become ill by licking the goop from a trodden-on mushroom off of their feet. Little kids can end up ingesting mushroom just from touching one and then touching their mouths. I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but at my house we scoop up all of the mushrooms that spring out of the lawn or wherever the kids or the cats may come into contact with them. You can protect yourself with rubber gloves or even put a plastic bag over your hand as you remove them. I used to throw them into the woods, but I feel safer now putting them in the trash. At first it will seem like a lot to rid the yard of all that have sprung up over the past week. But each day there will be fewer to keep up with.

I’ve done a few columns now and have found that it provides a much needed distraction from my usual concerns. Plus, I discovered that I actually have a lot to say. I’m sure that my sixth grade teacher, Miss Frances Hayes, would be astonished that I was able to complete an assignment — and on time, no less. I like the idea that years from now someone will be doing research, read one of my columns and exclaim, “So that’s who used to ride her tricycle in the rain! I’m so relieved to have finally cleared that up. Now I can finish my thesis!”

Between the two Island newspapers, there are about 30 weekly columnists, including seasonal contributors like myself, and those who have recently turned the reins over to others. Most of them write the town columns. Some regularly produce the bird, garden and wildlife columns. It occurred to me that we are a unique bunch. We work at home, fitting this extracurricular activity in with all of our other responsibilities. We have to meet a deadline, so we need to plan ahead. We work in relative isolation from our cohorts.

So I thought that we should all get together and have a chance to compare notes, or at the very least compare salaries and consider unionizing. I gathered up all of the e-mail addresses that I could from the newspaper by-lines and sent out an invitation to my fellow columnists. I asked them to join me for an evening cruise in Edgartown Harbor aboard the Chappy Ferry On Time II. I suggested that we could make up a list of questions for one another. I was curious to know how close to the deadline others sent in their work and how they knew when they had written enough.

The cruise was scheduled for the last day of July but got rained out. So we put it off two days. Being mid-summer, many of the gang e-mailed back that they just couldn’t get away from houseguests and work. But the few that were able to come had a wonderful time. The night air on the harbor was cool and the full moon was dazzling. Captain Everett Whorton set a course for down harbor and we foraged among the selection of potluck snacks.

I got to meet Oak Bluffs writers Skip Finley and Holly Nadler (who by the way seemed very chummy with my skipper). Suzan Bellencampi brought along Jean Marc Dupon (unless you can get Lady Gaga’s caterer, make sure that you include him in any invitation list). Almost half of my guests arrived by motorcycle or scooter. It’s a wild bunch! Lynn Irons brought along Violet (well after their bedtime). My own co-columnist, Margaret Knight, and my greatest inspiration Sally Snipes (whom I’m pretty chummy with) rounded out the crew.

Here are some of the tidbits that I was able to pry out of them. Holly sometimes waited until Wednesday morning to even start thinking about what to write — and the deadline is noon! Lynn writes her copy in pencil, then it gets picked up at her house by a uniformed limo driver and hand-delivered to the Gazette! It turns out that some of the items we write about are even exaggerated and embellished! (Well, in my case anyway).

Last weekend the Chappy Ferry participated in JawsFest. This event was organized to celebrate the release of the now 37-year-old movie Jaws in Blu-ray format. I understand that Blu-ray increases the resolution of the film exponentially. So either the shark will be a whole lot more frightening to you or it will look a whole lot more fake. It’s an eye-of-the-beholder thing. The ferry displayed big photos of scenes that took place aboard the On Time with quotes from those scenes. The On Time II even had “Amity” name boards affixed to her ends.

We have raffled off these as well as other items from JawsFest and will contribute the proceeds to the Chappy Fire Tanker Fund. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the participants; know affectionately as “Finatics.” I even got to be the contact person during the trivia hunt. I waded around in the water at the Ferry Point beach waiting for the Finatics to ride over on the ferry, find me and answer the question, “Who swam from this beach during the movie?” The answer was, “The Boy Scouts.” I’d give them a proof-of-completion slip and they would be off to the next film location. For me, Jaws is really just a great home movie.