This weekend marks the mass exodus of most of our resident college kids. They have been around for a bit over a month, visiting with family, reacquainting with friends, walking beaches, exercising at the Y, and filling a few of those 24 hours in a day with part time jobs. My own daughter returns to University of Tampa. Katy Smith returns to Simmons College. Jessica and Mariah Campbell return to University of Massachusetts Amherst. Samantha Bunker heads north to University of New Hampshire. Thorpe Karabees takes on another semester at University of Vermont. Cooper Chapman is soaking up the sun on the lacrosse field at St. Leo’s. James Roddy, to the best of my knowledge, will be at 5,400 feet above sea level at University of Colorado Boulder. Summer kids Katie Loveluck and Sawyer Rothmann are experiencing light, truth and virtue (lux, veritas and virtus) at Northeastern. No, that’s not all of our outgoing college kids, but you get the picture.

January is skating month for the Chilmark School kids. For the next couple of weeks, along with phys ed teacher Channon Capra and parent volunteer chaperones, they will board the big yellow school bus with mittens, helmets and skates in tow, bound for the MV Ice Arena. While riding the bus back to school, the students can be heard sharing commentary such as: I only fell once. Did you see me skate backwards? I need some cocoa to warm up.

Speaking of warming up, Sarah Kuh, Vineyard Health Care Access program director, shares that Dukes County is now offering fuel assistance applications in conjunction with South Shore Community Action. Application assistance for Islanders up to 59 years old is available by appointment Friday afternoons at the county administration building. To make an appointment, folks can call 508-696-3843 or email People 60 and older can apply at the Up-Island Council on Aging. General questions can be directed to Sarah at 508-696-0020 extension 11.

Papa Steve (Broderick), as he is fondly referred to by grandsons Hunter, Duke and Zeke, was sad to see his son Mike and daughter in law Mary McConneloug depart after a month-long visit. Nevertheless, he drove them the approximately 11 miles from home to the ferry terminal where they bid farewell. The world-acclaimed mountain biking duo has, once again, set off for South America to race.

Tim Carroll and Genc Brinja have returned home from a New Year’s trip to the Big Apple. Meandering up the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island with a wander through Newport certainly made for a fun adventure.

John and Sue Larsen’s daughter Abby’s temporary job with the Prince William Aquaculture Corporation, located in Cordova, Alaska, on Prince William Sound, was due to wrap up on Jan. 15. She has been there since mid August working at several different salmon hatcheries, propagating and incubating salmon eggs. She had planned to arrive home to her parents and sisters Olivia and Brigida for a long-anticipated reunion. Unbeknownst to her parents, however, Abby’s plans changed. She had secretly made plans to return home a week early to surprise us and with the help of her sisters, she managed to pull it off. Brigida picked her up at the ferry last Saturday. On the way up Hammett Lane to their house, the sisters passed John. The two vehicles stopped to say hello. Much to John’s surprise there was Abby in the passenger’s seat. He was thrilled to see her. Later that afternoon, Sue arrived home, entered the house, began to take her coat and boots off and asked how everyone was. Before she had a chance to even look up, a voice said, “Hi, Mom!” Needless to say, Sue didn’t believe her eyes. There was Abby, who had arrived home in time to celebrate Brigida’s 18th birthday on Jan. 12. I don’t know about you, but I certainly think this is a super story for the Larsens to be able to share.

Mention of the Larsens is a perfect segue into what’s happening at the library. Irene shares that she, Kristin Maloney, Ebba Hierta, Olivia Larsen and all of the folks in and out of the library certainly have a lot going on. Kristin’s Stories & Songs at 10:30 a.m. on both Tuesdays and Saturdays are alive with toddlers singing, shaking instruments and listening to great stories. Irene’s Wednesday after school program on Jan. 21 will continue with a winter theme by reading Owl Stories and by creating an owl on a snowy branch. But, if you are looking for something to do tonight, stop in to sit back and enjoy 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea featuring Kirk Douglas; 7 p.m. is the start time for this free event where you can dine on popcorn for dinner.

We have a new name to add to the town census. Miss Nell Marjorie Thompson was born on Tuesday, Jan. 13. Although she decided to go a few days after her official due date, proud parents Zoe (Pechter) and Simon agree her presence was well worth the wait. Little Nell is also welcomed home by her trusty pup, Tinker.

I read the following somewhere and jotted it down, so now is perhaps the perfect time to share:

Pink-cheeked, precious, with eyes so bright,

Curious, sometimes furious, still a delight,

Exploring, then roaring, with imagination gone wild,

Blissful adventure ... it comes with a child.

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