The erosion at Wasque continues unabated. As the top of the bluff steadily recedes, the trees tumble whole onto the beach, turn to spaghetti as they soak up the salt water and then get pounded to bits by the surf. If the Schifter’s buildings had not been moved, the guesthouse and pool would have fallen over the bluff this week. The western tip of the sandy island east of the opening has bent closer to the shore, further pinching off the channel, but the current seems as strong as ever. For the moment the Wacks house seems to have been granted a reprieve. A short section of bluff directly in front of the building has held fast for a few weeks, probably because of the sand bags at the base of the bluff. But just to the east, Trustees Lane continues to get shorter. I like to tease Chris Kennedy by asking him if his salary is commensurate with the acreage of the land that he oversees. It seems that Chappy will remain an island for quite a while longer.
While roaming around the island during the last snowstorm, I stumbled upon the Nantucket radio station 97.7 WACK-FM. It reminds me of the old Vineyard station, with a live disc jockey on the air. There is good reception on the east side of Chappy and various spots elsewhere. Half of the songs they play I know by heart and the other half I have never heard before. The DJ during the evening of the storm was philosophical regarding the weather service forecast snow amounts, adjusting them to account for Nantucket’s unique situation, pointing out that with the high winds and relatively open terrain of our sister island, most of the snow would just blow right across anyway. The fisherman’s parking lot doesn’t feel so much like the end of the world when I hear that DJ’s voice coming from just over the horizon.
The Edgartown highway department spent some time recently trimming back the encroaching and overhanging brush along the main road. They have made room for walkers on the shoulder and for bikers to keep from having their helmets knocked off. Likewise, a small army of bucket trucks and chippers from Hamilton Tree cut back the vegetation around the overhead power lines. In some sections it’s quite startling, but if it’s any consolation, it grows back pretty quickly and it’s all with the goal of providing dependable service.
More than a year ago we installed automatic generators at our homes so that when the power goes out Erik and I can concentrate on keeping the ferry operation going without worrying that our wives might burn down the house with candles. Since we got them, the power has not even blinked. With the new underwater cables and underground wires from the ferry point, a little bit of the adventure of living on Chappy is gone.
While in Cambridge last week I stopped in at Mount Auburn Cemetery to look for Joe Cressy’s grave. A portion of his ashes are interred in the Dickson plot, which is his wife Mary’s family. He’s was a much braver man than I, being willing to spend eternity with his in-laws. I’m consoled with the knowledge that most of his ashes were spread around Chappaquiddick Island and Edgartown Harbor. Next time you’re in the vicinity of Cambridge stop by the Mount Auburn Cemetery, even if only for a quick drive-through. It’s as much an arboretum and museum as it is a cemetery. You can drive right in, park along the roads and walk around. They have quite a few of the biggest tree specimens in New England. The statuary is marvelous. Along with many important historical figures, several Vineyard-connected people are buried there as well. Seafarers would be impressed by the memorial to Nathaniel Bowditch, author of The American Practical Navigator, also known as the mariner’s bible. Bowditch’s book has been considered the standard for two centuries. I read every word at least twice while at Maine Maritime Academy.
I like to stop in at the Chappy cemetery to see how the firemen’s and veterans’ flags are holding up in the wind. That hillside facing Cape Pogue Bay feels much wilder and a little more adventurous since the Land Bank cleared away the trees and brush in that area. I noticed that the gravestone that Kappi Getsinger shares with her husband Gordon has been completed with her date of passing. Whoever attached the new numbers to the bronze plaque gave her an extra year of life. She died in 2012 and the year on the marker reads 2013. I wonder if Kappi perhaps will get a touch more admiration in heaven for turning in a higher score. I’m certain that she would get a chuckle out of it, though it’s a little bit akin to having a fake ID.