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Ahhh, the beauty of an ice-clad dock months before any president visits. 


I know there are people who love snow. At least there are people who say they love snow. I am not one of them.

I grew up in a suburb of St. Louis where we were more afraid of tornadoes than snow. If there was more than an inch and a half on the lawn, we scraped it all together for a snowman, limp carrot nose and all.

When my kids were little we lived in upstate New York, where the snowfall averaged 200 inches a season. We couldn’t send them out to play for fear they’d be swallowed whole by a snow bank. Neighbors had snowshoes hanging in their garages. And they used them. Regularly.

When we moved to Martha’s Vineyard, everybody said, “You’ll love the winter. It doesn’t snow much here and when it does, it’s gone the next day.” They were either misled or they are prone to acute optimism.

This is our third winter here and we’ve faced snowstorms more than a foot at a time every year since we arrived. It was cute the first year. The neighbor kids ran outside at the first sight of a snowflake and rejoiced loudly, dancing and yelling. I know they’re a little older this year, but none of them danced in the street during Juno last month.

Now we have made friends with the other neighbors who share their snowplow guy’s name and number with us. We’ve gotten used to writing checks to our neighbor Tom once a week because his guy does our driveway too. And God forbid we leave snow in front of the mailbox. We’ve been told more than once, if there’s snow or ice accumulating higher than a 48-cent postage stamp, he won’t put the mail in the box.

This all makes for a rather long winter. Oh, we still love driving by the ocean on the way to work. The harbors are pretty much frozen right now, though. Sailboats look like they could just as easily be sitting in your front yard. People walk around with dazed expressions. When it’s freezing cold and the wind is whipping off the ocean, all you do (or all I do anyway) is think about what a great meal I could put together while the snow piles up. This is, of course, hampered by the fact that the shelves at Stop & Shop are half empty because either the ferry isn’t running to replenish the stock, or everyone else has the same idea and got there before you.

I guess I just wasn’t prepared. For some reason — probably that acute optimism I found so appealing when I got here — I thought after New York, this place would be a wintertime cake walk. Now I’m finding out, maybe not so much.

These days almost everyone I talk to here says, “Okay, enough already. Uncle.” And these people are not, as my sister would say, candy asses. They come from sturdy stock. Their ancestors killed whales and harpooned swordfish for God’s sake. They spend weeks picking little beach plums and making them into jam for the annual fair. They regularly don tall waders in cold water and scrape scallops off the bottom of the seabed, and they think nothing of wrangling one open and popping it raw into their mouths.

It’s saying something then to admit that it’s starting to get to us (them). Oh, we all love a good gale and who doesn’t get stranded on the mainland from time to time because the ferry can’t run?

And then there’s the whole living-on-an-island-where-the-president-spends-his-vacation thing. Hey, the island was here long before him.

Granted, in August and September, this place is pretty much Nirvana, without Kurt Cobain unfortunately. But the rest of the year, it’s not all that different from any old New England sea town. In fact, to me anyway, it’s better. Quiet. Simple. Calm. Buying codfish from the fishmonger. Eating scallops wrapped in bacon that your neighbor scooped up a few miles from your house. (That’s a stretch really, very few actually give away scallops because here they taste something like a miniature marshmallow dipped in butter and smothered with love.) 

You get the picture. I’m feeling a little bitter about the snow and at the same time, I’m embracing the fact that it’s winter on an island known for its summer. Damn those beach towels.

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