I was chatting with ferry captain Liz on a recent trip to town (we chat quickly, but still rarely finish our topic before the chain goes down) about who we are, or more accurately who people think we are: Witness Protection clients. Why else, folks wonder, would we choose to isolate ourselves on Chappy when we could do so almost equally as well in Edgartown?

There may very well be a couple folks living nearby who have had their entire lives’ histories wiped clean by the FBI (you know who you are), but for the most part we have far less interesting stories to tell.

There may have been a time when Chappy was an exotic outpost, but that is no longer the case. We’re no less accessible to the world than Manhattan is to Stamford. Moreover, if one is looking for a place to hide, I’d suggest that Chappy might be one’s worst choice. We have a built in monitoring system that documents our comings and goings: the Chappy Ferry. No, we’re just like the rest of you, our interest lies in who we are, not where we live. As far as I can tell we’re yet to have our first hard frost, or even a soft frost. The water still flows though the Big Camp pipes and the toilet water swishes without aid of RV antifreeze. It is December, right? There is a fog that hangs over the water today that gives the illusion that we are not only a mountain (of sorts) that rises above the sea, but above the clouds as well. Chappy fog does that to me though it lends a dream-like quality to everything, as if I am merely floating in my space rather than anchored to the ground.

I remember walking with my grandmother on such a day this time of year many years ago. A Thanksgiving, I think. For some reason, I rarely can recall what she wore on her bottom half but always can remember her jackets and hats. On this day she had on a pilled wool cap and a quilted, oil stained jacket with worn cuffs. We had a purpose to our walk, I think, but it evolved and strayed to just a walk.

We started on North Neck, moving west on the dirt road, and then cut over at the Plumbs’ to the beach. From there we back-tracked down the beach past the Big Camp to the Hotters’ boathouse. We sat there on its steps, enveloped by the fog and our own intimacy. She told me of her pony Cozy that she had as a child on Chappy, and the time she got her hung up on a wooden groin. She didn’t finish the story though, she just left Cozy and her and me stalled comfortably on the jetty. Then we walked back to the house, and she put her wool hat on my bare head as we headed into the wind.

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