On a small island, everything that goes on seems to have a greater effect than in a place less circumscribed. We’ve certainly seen the extended and radiating effects of big storms in recent years, but it’s true about the small things as well. When someone paints a ring of daffodils around the bottom of a telephone pole, it can make a lot of people smile, which has a ripple effect through the whole population. (If you haven’t noticed the daffodils, they’re on the right, a few poles after Litchfield Road coming from the ferry.) Similarly, when someone carefully fits stones into a couple of deep potholes in the tar road, there is that positive effect — if not of smiles, than at least of fewer curses.
Another reason for a cheery frame of mind is that, despite the weather’s tentative move into springtime, it definitely feels as if the season is here to stay. The daffodils, which had waited until that one warm day last week, have all bloomed at once. It’s nice to see them in their usual spots along the main road, especially next to the mailbox at Blueberry Cottage. The osprey are back, too. On a recent morning, I saw three on two telephone poles at the Hickory Cove land bank property. The pair that calls the pole along Jeffers Lane as home have gotten busy settling in to have a family on the nest they made a few years ago. Especially at the end of the day, the peeper chorus can be heard all over the island, near anywhere there are marshes or vernal pools — the loudest sign of spring, aside from the roar and grind of trucks and land moving equipment.
The whole Island has jumped into action as we begin our descent into summer. The roundabout at the blinker (four-way stop) in Oak Bluffs is fully under construction, with waits of five minutes or more to pass through on the one lane available. The crews cutting the tree limbs along the power lines have been working in flotillas of up to 10 bright orange trucks in a row, turning roadside trees into odd-shaped living sculptures that signify the dominion of civilization’s concerns over those of nature.
On Chappy, construction and landscaping is in full swing on houses old and new. The ferry lines are back but often, happily, is the operation of the second ferry. The Schifter house project is in full swing, and the Expert House Movers are quite a presence on the island, along with a few new red baseball caps seen atop locals’ heads. Their website is full of pictures and information about the amazing projects they’ve done. Dick Knight says they make “it look like moving houses is something they do every day: clearly they are experts.”
The Schifter house has been in the news off-Island, too. There was a long article in the April 7 issue of the Boston Globe. Roger Becker comments on erosion and the house move at Wasque on a video on their website titled, House Falling into Sea. Not surprisingly, the video doesn’t show the house falling into the sea since it hasn’t. It shows men shoveling sand onto the top and back of the wall of netted sand that slows erosion on the bluff in front of the house. The video shows them patting the sand down with their feet and their shovels, making one wonder what possible chance man has of beating the forces of nature.
The Chappy Community Center potluck of this past week was postponed until next Wednesday, April 24, due to the refinishing of the floor. Tom Osborn will host next week’s potluck starting at 6 p.m. All are welcome.
Homeowners should have received a letter from the selectmen containing the contract signed with Comcast regarding service to Chappy. You can contact them for more information, or contact Bob O’Rourke, who is point person with the CIA regarding the contract, and the count of people interested in the service. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. The contract will be activated when 270 households have signed up within the next year.
Sheepapalooza will be held at the Farm Institute this Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is billed as a day-long celebration of sheep and shepherds, food, farming and fiber. The day starts with morning chores from 9 to 10 a.m., and includes sheep shearing and sheep dog demonstrations, fiber arts and fun, lunch, farm tours and wagon rides that Sidney will give, with the Jerseys pulling. For a detailed schedule, visit farminstitute.org or call them at 508-627-7007.
Slip Away farmers have disced the fields around the farmhouse, churning the sod and making it look like the beginnings of a real farm. Work is finishing up on the old schoolhouse moved from the Heywood property that will serve as the farm stand this summer. Meanwhile, they’ve started selling eggs in a red box nearer the road. Look out for their chalkboard at the end of the driveway, letting you know when eggs are available.
In other farm news, Susan Phinney and her husband, Rob Seidel, are featured on the new website faceofthefarmer.org, which lists farmers, and includes interviews, in the town of Sterling. Susan and Rob raise goats and a flock of chickens for eggs at Locust Knoll Farm.