Every time I drive out to Wasque, I think of Gazette writer Joseph Chase Allen sitting at his desk on Skiff’s Island writing his weekly feature Among the Fishermen. I recall that he conjured this image as an introduction to his column many decades ago. I enjoyed the terminology that he used to describe his subject. He referred to the ocean-going fishing boats passing by his window looking out on Muskeget Channel as long-legged. Skiff’s Island appeared on nautical charts when I was a kid. It moved around as the sandbars of Wasque Shoals took turns sticking their heads above water. Viewed from atop the bluff on a sunny calm day, the island appeared as a lump of light yellow sand blurred by the heatwaves. In the wintertime, it was black with the bodies of seals. Most of the time it was hidden within the leaping white foam of the surf that swept over the shoals. My 1961 chart shows the tiny island about a mile southeast of Wasque surrounded by water only waist and chin deep. Just a hundred yards farther east, the bottom drops off precipitously into Muskeget Channel to a depth of 56 feet. I liked the image of Mr. Allen tapping away on the keys of his typewriter way out there so far removed from solid dry ground.

Being out at Wasque on a windy day always brings back very vivid memories of my childhood. I like that feeling of wildness beyond human control at the edge of the land. The air and the water are always in motion, ranging from imperceptible to furious. As a youngster coming to understand how the world works I was thrilled as well as comforted by the realization that the forces of nature were not subject to our human control. Wasque was clearly a place where this was true. I gained the perspective that we live at the mercy of very powerful forces. I also gained an awareness that those forces can be depended upon to obey very specific laws. In my capacity as the operator of the Chappy ferry I am particularly appreciative of how predictably water adheres to the formulas that define buoyancy. I love the laws of physics and nature.

Chappy looks a little bit ragged at the moment. The roadsides are littered with broken branches. Most of them appear to be dead limbs, but quite a few are lush with evergreen needles. It means there will be fewer things for a hurricane to break. There are scattered piles of dirt and loam pushed aside by snowplowing. Some of the seasonal mail boxes appear to be caught mid-yawn. The dirt roads have started to washboard and pothole since the right conditions for proper grading have been followed too soon by downpours or freezes. Both the fresh and salt ponds have frozen overnight a few times but melted off quickly in the sunshine. Even Katama Bay had patches of ice after the last deep freeze. But spring is mere days away. Already the grasses on the south side of buildings is greening and flower shoots are appearing. I do think that Mother Nature is unnecessarily eager to get ticks up and about.

The next Chappy Community Center potluck dinner will be hosted by Marvene and Bob O’Rourke on Wednesday, March 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. Please bring a dish to serve six. There are only four hosting spots left on the calendar. The final potluck of the season is June 7. Sign up by calling Lynn at 508-627-8222 or putting your name in the date book at the next dinner.

Send Chappy news to peterchappyferry@gmail.com.