The rain, sun and warm temperatures of this past week helped Chappaquiddick return to normal after last Friday and Saturday’s blizzard. The ground is visible once again, the power is on and the ferry is running on schedule. It was quite a storm, though.
As the wind picked up on Friday morning and the weather forecasters went into high gear, concern about the approaching storm started to surge. Down at the ferry, Peter told people leaving the island they should try to get back by noon because it looked as if high tide with the winds might shut down the boat. The school and town hall were planning to shut at noon as well. For most of us, the threat of not being able to get home is a strong deterrent to leaving the island. Others — not mentioning any names — take a more devil-may-care attitude.
The ferry ended up running through the afternoon on Friday, but the warning kept some of us home, and got others home sooner than planned (including my husband, after a few phone calls). When he can, Peter likes to give plenty of warning if he thinks he may have to shut down the ferry. No doubt, he doesn’t want to have to chose between protecting his boats and taking forlorn or angry residents back home in the midst of the storm. Like he says, “At some point, people just gotta go home and stay home” — where he doesn’t have to worry about them!
Charlie was on duty Friday night and as he prefers the On Time II in a storm, it was tied up on the Edgartown side. (The ferry is always available by calling 911.) Peter kept watch at the Chappy Point, and at around 1 a.m., when the barometric pressure was lowest, the winds reached about 70 m.p.h. and the tide reached its height. Peter said there was six inches of water at the bottom of the ramp for about three hours, and the tide “gushed across the parking lot like a river.”
No doubt we were not the only Chappy household down on our knees thanking NStar for putting the electric lines underground from the Point to Litchfield Road. If the lines were still overhead, we’d be without power now because they would have been shredded. As it was, the power went off repeatedly on Friday night, but just as one’s heart would plunge, the power would come back on. It was like a miracle.
Down at the Point, Peter was watching parts or all of the town go black, and then he’d hear a boom as the power came back on. At one point, he saw a blue flash, probably from wires hitting together, and all of Starbuck Neck went dark for a few seconds. At about 1:30 a.m. he was in his truck listening to the NOAA weather radio’s mechanical voice when the lights went out, and even NOAA went quiet. He figured that was the result of an outage far beyond the Vineyard’s shores.
On Saturday the heavy snow slowed and mostly stopped by midday. No place on the Internet seems to have a record of how much snow we got; I think it’s because they can’t figure it out. Out my window, it looked like somewhere between two inches and two feet. On Chappy, it snowed and then rained and then snowed some more. The snow blew and packed into deep drifts, and in places, even the main road narrowed to not much more than one lane as the drifts were too dense to plow.
On Sunday the sun came out and the world seemed as quiet as it was in the days following 9-11. The roar of wind was gone and the planes must not have been flying yet. After a good snow our house transforms into a great ski lodge, outside of which you can put on your skis and go for miles. By the tracks I saw that others had been out skiing early Sunday morning and heard that my neighbor attempted getting his two dogs to pull him on skis with moderate success. By Monday noon the pouring rain meant we were done with skiing and, instead, were dealing with a few inches of slush on top of a layer of ice. The mile of dirt road to my house that had been filled with drifts turned to icy ruts, which made driving it like being on one of those Wild Mouse roller coaster rides. It seems as if we have gotten winter after all; it just came later than expected.
The Edgartown library has a Russian winter film series going on Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. The film on Sunday, Feb. 17 is Dr. Zhivago, and on Feb. 19, it’s a Woody Allen satire, Love and Death.
The next potluck at the community center is on Wednesday, Feb. 20 starting at 6 p.m. with appetizers featuring local ingredients made by Lily Morris. The Knight/Morris family will be hosting. (The Africa-themed potluck I wrote about last week has been postponed until maybe March, when Marvene and Bob O’Rourke will host.) For this potluck, we suggest the usual delicious range of dishes. However, if you feel inclined, you could feature some local ingredient, such as Island Grown Initiative’s harvest of the month: potatoes. Hopefully we won’t all bring potato dishes, although that wouldn’t be so bad. At one potluck a few years ago, we all brought desserts, and ended up calling someone on his way home to pick up some pizza while someone else went home to make a salad.
If you haven’t received your annual subscription letter from the community center, you should soon. If you don’t get a letter or haven’t been a subscriber, you can find out how to subscribe on the CCC website: chappycommunitycenter.org. Subscriptions are a way of donating toward upkeep and running of the CCC.
If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably received a letter with information about the proposed Comcast cabling on Chappy from Pam Dolby, town administrator and Martha’s Vineyard Cable Advisory Committee member. We need 270 homes to subscribe year round for two years and pay a onetime “build-out contribution” of about $2,000 before any cabling happens. My initial thought was that this was about as likely to happen as that many people signing up for electroshock therapy. However, the letter includes a map showing where Comcast proposes to cable, and since I’ve seen how extensive their proposal is — particularly, bringing cable practically to my house — I’ve changed my tune. Now I see a glimmer of possibility. Commitment letters will be sent out in June, and any questions can be sent to Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org.