The job of taking the weekly water temperature is, on the surface, a solitary one. The thermometer, turquoise and the size of a ruler, is removed from its desktop perch, and tucked in a back pocket or held in hand, depending on the preference. Bets are offered up as to what the new temperature will be. Then the walk begins out of the Gazette doors and down to the water’s edge at the Edgartown harbor. The office and busyness of a deadline day recedes for at least a few moments with each footstep.
Along the way birds give their take on the day and coming season, chirping dissatisfaction it appears as mid-April continues to impersonate the blustery lion of March. The wind does not play favorites, dancing to the beat of its own making. The coat collar goes up and pockets become snug nests for chilled hands.
On the way to the water a family of five passes by. A little girl wonders aloud, “So this is spring.” Her mother responds. “Just keep telling yourself that.”
Upon arriving at the harbor, it appears the usual berth is occupied by a harbor patrol boat. It has been many months since a boat of any kind lingered here. A new slip is chosen, a spot found to sit with back against the piling, and into the water goes the thermometer, bobbing just below the surface like a lure. No fish appear, but no matter. The quarry now is the approaching season, taking one step forward and two steps back it seems.
Out on the water the Chappy ferry ambles by and in the parking lot trucks stop and go making morning pilgrimages to the Dock street diner. Closer still, hungry waves lick the pier while somewhere in the air the wind laughs. Through it all, a few feet down, the thermometer bobs quietly, and upon retrieval it speaks boldly of change. The temperature of the water is fifty degrees. Last week it was forty seven.