It’s been a quiet week on Chappaquiddick — in fact, the quietest week of the year. School vacation, February, and living on an island add up to a trip to somewhere else, either warmer or one with more snow. But for those of us who didn’t go anywhere, this was the week you didn’t have to wait in any lines, and the roads were empty. It’s the polar opposite of Fourth of July week. I said to someone, “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone came in the middle of winter, and it was this quiet in the summer?” She said, “Yeah, just like when we were kids.”
Change is part of life, but it’s especially rapid on an island. The edges of the Island change from day to day, as sand and rocks move from one place to another. In the interior, change is slower and more predictable — and more the result of us humans. But you don’t have to look too far back to see changes. Studies help us chart our future course, and the first draft of the new Housing Needs Assessment Study, written about in the paper two weeks ago, talks about our housing needs and changing demographics. It describes how there are more older residents, rising poverty levels and a serious shortage of affordable year-round rentals, particularly larger houses. On Chappaquiddick, as on the rest of the Vineyard, these are factors in shaping our population.
One difference, though, is that in recent times there are more families and young adults coming to live on Chappy than in the past 20 or 30 years. Children who grew up here, or spent summers, have come back to live, some now with children of their own, as well as others, like the Slip Away farmers and The Trustees of Reservations educator Molly Peach, have come to live and invest themselves in the island’s future. This bulge in the younger end of the population spectrum is encouraging in light of the preservation of our community, for the short and the long term. We need people to replace our aging population, as well as younger people to be our firefighters and EMTs, and to do the work of maintaining the infrastructure of our island.
Housing continues to be a problem for those who want to live here, though. It can be stressful for individuals to cope with the Vineyard shuffle, from summer to winter rental, but it can be even harder for families. With so many empty houses everywhere, it’s sad to see people who love Chappy have to move off the island. Presently there is at least one Chappy family who is threatened with that move if they can’t find a year-round rental by May. If they do move, our community will lose, among other valuable assets, a firefighter, builder and possibly a community center coordinator. If anyone has a lead for a year-round house, please call Matt or Lynn at 508-939-9628.
Lynn Martinka, who shares the coordinator job with Abigail Chandler, will be hosting the next potluck at the community center on Wednesday, March 6 at 6 p.m. All are welcome; bring a main or side dish or dessert to share.
The last potluck was well attended, with three tables full of people. Co-host Lily Morris shared her love of cooking with local foods through an array of delicious appetizers. She also brought some naturally fermented vegetables for people to try. Besides the more well-known sauerkraut, she brought kimchi, a spicy Korean mix of napa cabbage, radishes and other vegetables, and fermented grated turnips. One of her goals is to share her knowledge about the health benefits of these fermented, traditional foods.
On Wednesday at dusk, Allen Slater saw what he identified as two dolphins feeding near the Dyke bridge. Through binoculars he could clearly see their pointed snouts, and he watched them feed for a half hour. Just for extra confirmation, he got Dick Knight there, and while neither are exactly marine biologists, they did agreed about the dolphins. Allen took a video with his phone, so confirmation can be made. They were also there the next day. I got to see them, which was a big thrill. They may be there a while, if you get a chance to go over.
A lot of people have worked to get Chappy included in the next 10-year license with the Comcast cable company. The Chappaquiddick Island Association has been part of that effort, and now there is an agreement which does include cabling the island, but with stipulations. CIA secretary Bob O’Rourke will head their effort to keep members advised about the agreement and how it will affect the community. If you’d like to receive an e-mail detailing the points of the agreement and the advantages and disadvantages of the plan, or if you have any questions, comments or ideas, you can contact Bob at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-627-7902.
Peter Wells took off his beeper and radio and went to visit his brothers off-Island last week. He’s home now after a well-earned respite from thinking about the ferry.
I think of February as a pleasant, sunny month, even if it can be cold. The sun is higher, the days are longer, and the birds have started singing on warmer mornings. Even thought it’s still a gray world, the red cardinals show up like gems against the underbrush, and the paths are brilliant green in the woods where moss is growing. Certainly, this February has been more filled with wind, snow, and rain than usual. Perhaps March, that unlikable month, will be more reasonable.