January has departed leaving with it ups and downs both in atmospheric wonders and community happenings. February, although the shortest month, can sometimes feel the longest with its wintry overcast days that no amount of hopeful recollecting can seem to bring back even a hint of summertime pleasures.

But with Feb. 2 comes the halfway mark between the winter solstice and spring equinox and the annual viewing of Punxsutawney Phil. Who knew back in 1993, when the movie Groundhog Day was released, that it would become somewhat of a cult classic. One Phil Connors quote, as he stands 84 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, that always make me think of this town I call home is “When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.”

As I write this I sit wondering whether the groundhog will see his shadow or not. But know there will be birthday cake for both John Larsen and Emmett Carroll who celebrate the same day.

Appreciation for some of our most valued community members needs to be shouted out. As most of you know, there was a downed utility pole in Menemsha that stormy night last week which resulted in a live wire causing some fairly significant damage to Menemsha Market. Fire personnel from Chilmark, Aquinnah and West Tisbury were all at the scene and made fast work of extinguishing the flames once the power was cut. Police and EMS were also on the scene lending support. It’s moments like these where we are reminded that volunteering for our local fire department is invaluable. The Packer and Oliver families both now know firsthand that our volunteer fire fighters are invaluable and they are appreciative. Being a volunteer firefighter is not about what you look like, what degree you have or where you come from. It is about having the heart and drive to make a difference where it’s needed most. Call Chief David Norton at 508-645-2550 if you are interested in becoming part of the first line of defense in emergencies.

Speaking of volunteerism, it’s budget season. Members of the finance advisory committee began meeting last week and will continue through next week to review all town department budgets for FY 2020. Thank you to Marshall Carroll, Vicki Divoll, Eric Glasgow, Bruce Golden, Robert Hannemann, Don Leopold and Susan Murphy for providing well reasoned, fiscally sound and responsible recommendations to all of us so that we can vote at the annual town meeting as informed citizens.

Please continue to keep Teddy Mayhew in your thoughts. He still finds himself laid up at Mass General but with family and friends sending along well wishes by email, text phone and word of mouth I know he will be home soon. Please send a little extra love to Judy, Sarah and Becky who have all spend countless hours at his bedside.

Well wishes go out to Danny Larsen who also made a trip to Mass General. I am hopeful that he too will find himself at his Beetlebung Corner home in no time.

I am saddened to hear about the loss of one of our most captivating Menemsha regulars. Conrad Neumann was a wonderful brother to Jane Slater and ever present companion to his bride Jane. He was a regular member of the Squid Row mid-morning coffee crowd. His stories, poetry and smile that always sparked a twinkle in his eye will be deeply missed.

Folks are already preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl festivities. The Patriots will take on the Rams while folks around town watch wearing their jerseys and nibbling on favorite football party foods. Isn’t that how sports work? Keeping a stomach happy with game day dips, wings, sliders and pretty much anything bite sized will keep the fans cheering for touchdowns. Go Pats!