Why would beings consisting of 65 per cent water live where water freezes? Every winter at about this time I start wondering about us. The question usually comes to mind when I have to take my gloves off for a while to do something that requires bare hands. I own, no exaggeration, a dozen pairs of winter boots. They have a variety of insulating features. None of them can keep feet warm for more than two hours. I can fully appreciate why people retire to Florida.

But as long as we’re here, let’s look at the positive aspects of ice and snow. Here’s one example. A friend was out cross-country skiing on the snow-covered frozen surface of Cape Pogue Bay. He came upon the tracks of a trio of otters who had galloped side by side over the slippery surface for a distance and them in unison slid on their bellies. He was lucky to get to see that. He did have to put up with cold toes, fingers and nose.

Many winters ago an otter left his tracks inches from the corner of our house while passing through our yard, which is at least a third of a mile from any water body. It was clear who made the marks as every 10 feet or so the tracks became the imprint of an otter’s belly. Because of that pesky snow an otherwise unseen critter was revealed to me. I felt lucky to see that.

As bad as this winter seems with its harbor ice and lingering snow, it’s still not as bad as the way it was way back in the seventies. People used to say with confidence that, “If the harbor isn’t frozen over by New Year’s it won’t.” Then a mere week later we’d be standing at the edge of the wharf looking out on a harbor with a foot of snow resting on it’s immovable surface, hearing the same people utter quietly, “Well, that didn’t take long.”

Four decades ago Jack Carbon and I climbed under the ferry ramp on the Chappy side at low tide to chip away the ice that had accumulated there keeping the ramp from reaching down to the deck of the ferry. We first tried using a rented jackhammer but it resisted operating properly in the nearly horizontal position, which was all that was allowed in that confined space. So we resorted to axes and picks. The ice yielded to our efforts in only fist-sized hunks. Hours later, red-faced and jacketless, we emerged promising never to do that again. Next day we were back at it. So far this winter I have been able to deal with any ice that bothered the ferry while standing upright. Some of the same bergs pass back and forth with every tide change. I have my fingers crossed that when it finally all breaks up that the wind and tide will carry it away quickly.

The aggressive headlong charge of Norton Point to overtake Wasque Point has settled into more of a deliberate “sneaking up on.” The restricted opening causes the water to flow all the more rapidly. Never before have so many paid such close attention to the Katama opening and closing process. At one time I was sure that it would close up all at once overnight. Now I can imagine that the opening could alternate between being a narrow sluiceway that you could jump over at low tide to being a broad quicksand washover at high tide. One astute observer reminded me that during one particular closing sequence years ago that Norton Point turned the corner at Wasque, proceeded parallel to East Beach for a few hundred yards and after several tentative taps on Chappy’s elbow, finally took a firm grip. I would not be at all surprised if the final closing occurs in a way that we had not imagined.

Chappy’s new mail delivery person is Stephan Pond. He is not new to Chappy, having occupied Dodie Silva’s house across from the fire station for years and now lives in the Enos lots with his partner. They are here to stay. Stephan has joined the Chappy fire crew. A couple of summers back he was responsible for those out-of-this-world soups at Morning Glory Farm. Those that watch the Derby leader board are familiar with his work. His beach buggy sported a bumper sticker reading, “Shut up and fish.” This is a person obviously serious about the endeavors that he undertakes.

Send your Chappy news to: peter@chappyferry.net.