I am writing to you this week from the snowy White Mountains of New Hampshire where the landscape is a far cry from our Chappy flatlands. Mount Washington dominates the view from my in-laws living room, its snow-capped peak frequently obscured by a thick winter cloud cover. The forest here, made up of mostly birch, spruce and fir seems so grand compared to the scrub oak and pitch pine woods of Chappaquiddick.

At home, we have a daily walk to the ocean, but this week we have been enjoying moving through these North Country woods on nordic skis. Rather than traveling with us in her stroller, our daughter has been bundled and tucked into a sled and towed behind my husband, a skilled skier. They move effortlessly through the trails as I, a beginner, skid clumsily along behind, trying my best to appear confidant. In another few years, my daughter will be out of her sled and quickly out-skiing her mom, and I envy her chance to become as skilled and graceful as her dad. Perhaps if Chappy was a bit snowier I could practice more regularly but, even then, I doubt I would ever become an elegant skier. The movement is simply too foreign.

Today, as I write, is the final day of 2018. With the Harbor View Hotel closed for renovations, there will be no Edgartown fireworks this evening, and I wonder how Chappaquiddickers will ring in the New Year. My favorite Chappy New Year’s was when we hosted a story-telling evening at the Slip Away farmhouse. An Islander-friend was involved with organizing events called S.O.O.P., or Stories of Our People, where invitees are asked to bring an ingredient for a soup and a story. Each guest adds their ingredient to the large communal pot and as the soup simmers, individuals rise up one by one to share a story, song or poem. That New Years, we cooked our soup in the farmhouse kitchen and then gathered everyone for stories in the farm stand, Chappy’s original one-room schoolhouse. We had a small wood-stove heating the space, and, although the building is completely uninsulated and it was a very cold night, our crowd generated so much heat that we eventually had to open some of the windows wide.

After all the stories were told and the soup was shared, we made our way down to the harbor for the fireworks, our crew gathering on the Chappy Point beach, wrapped in blankets, faces lifted to the shimmering lights. A good number of our friends camped out on our floor that evening; in the morning, we made a large brunch together and welcomed in the New Year.

Last year, with a newborn, we did not host a New Year’s Eve gathering nor did we make it to the Chappy fireworks. Instead, we cuddled our baby in our living room, marveling at her perfection and wondering at all that had changed for us in 2017.

Please remember that Elizabeth Whelan will be hosting Chappy Art Nights at the Community Center every other Thursday in the coming weeks. She will set up two still-life arrangements, and welcomes artists of all levels to come sketch or paint. Although it is not a class, Elizabeth will provide assistance if asked. Please bring your own materials, coffee and snacks will be provided. The next Art Night is Jan. 10 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The next Chappy potluck will be Jan. 9. The Community Center is always looking for potluck hosts, please give them a call at 608-627-822 to sign up.

Lily Walter (slipawayfarm@gmail.com)