West Tisbury: Snow is definitely this week’s story.


Snow is definitely this week’s story. Everyone watched the Weather Channel predictions all week, talked about and prepared for a storm, then spent Saturday watching it fall with increasingly higher totals and broadening bands on the radar screen. Sunday was for shoveling our way out.

I was snowed in at work in Edgartown, so came home mid-afternoon on Sunday to a snow-blown driveway and paths into the house, to the woodpile, the compost pile, and open areas for the animals. Mike had done everything. He even had a fire going in the wood stove. My dog met me at the door, wagging her tail.

Messages and phone calls awaited me and I have lots of news for the column this week. One of the most curious was about snowballs. Sue Hruby called to ask if I had ever seen them before? The field behind her house was filled with clumps of snow, big round balls of snow that blew and finally settled as the wind died down. I found out they were all around town, most prominently for observation along State Road by Whiting’s and Littlefield’s.

George Hartman saw them driving across town to Ben Chase Road. He gave me a scientific description that I hope I convey accurately. As light, wet snow came down, it was caught up by wind that clumped flakes together, beginning the process. As these small clumps hit the ground and continued to be tossed by high winds, they rolled and blew and picked up snow, much the same way we would make snowballs or a snowman. George reported one as big as a basketball in his yard on the Panhandle. They are everywhere.

Much of this was observed as George was out making paths with his not-quite-antique snowblower, a circa 1954 model he found at an antique engine show. Then he found a 4-horsepower 1962 engine, rebuilt it, and replaced the non-working engine on the 1954 snowblower. “It takes about 45 minutes to clear our driveway and paths, and is good exercise. The snowblower is in its 60s and the operator well into his 70s.” George can do anything.

My other source is Kent Healy, another guy who can do anything or figure anything out. I called Kent for the exact total snowfall amount. He measured 15 inches in his yard in Island Farms. Here’s how he did it: he stuck a 4-inch aluminum vent pipe down into the snow, slid a dustpan underneath to pick it up, and measured the depth. Then he takes it all inside, melts it down to measure the volume of water. It was 1.65 inches. Water content recharges our water table, so it’s a good bit of information to have. Again, I hope I’ve gotten this right. If not, I’ll print a correction in next week’s column.

Mike Colaneri gave me all these good ideas when I spoke with him early Monday morning, but the start of our conversation was that he and Veterans’ Agent Joanne Murphy are in the final planning stages for a memorial for West Tisbury veterans from 1950 to the present. This includes veterans of all military branches from the Korean War, Vietnam War, and all the Gulf Wars. To qualify, West Tisbury must be your home of record at the time of enlistment and you must have been honorably discharged. The new monument will be placed by the flagpole at the Town Hall. Please call Joanne Murphy for more information: 508-696-3841 or vetsagent@dukescounty.org. They need your information ASAP.

All this snow may make parking difficult at Cynthia Riggs’s and Howie Attebery’s annual Groundhog Day party. Cynthia is hoping it will have melted enough that the field off New Lane will be useable for parking. Don’t be deterred from attending, though. The party is from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, February 2. You and your favorite hors d’oeuvres are welcome. It’s always a good place to have nomination papers signed, too, and several guests are usually seen carrying a clipboard and pen for that purpose. This is a reminder that anyone interested in running for a town office should pick up their nomination papers from Tara Whiting in Town Hall between 8:30 and 1:30 Monday through Friday.

The West Tisbury Church has planned their Mardi Gras Pancake Supper for Sunday evening, February 7, from 4 to 6 pm. There will be music by Brian and Liam Weiland. It’s $5/person or $15/family and early enough to get home in time for the Super Bowl.

“There is no joy in Mudville” or West Tisbury, now that the Patriots lost last night and won’t be playing in the Super Bowl. Still, it’s a reason to get together and have a good time with friends, to enjoy watching football from the comfort of your living room sofa. Especially nice if you are full of delicious pancakes and wearing Mardi Gras beads in honor of the occasion.

I was sorry to hear that Vern Laux died last Thursday at Nantucket Cottage Hospital. Many of us remember when Vern, Ginger, and their children lived off Scotchman’s Lane in the 1980s. Many more surely know him from his bird reports on WCAI. Condolences to all who will miss him, his voice, and his observations. “Keep your eyes on the sky.”

Events at the library include: Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth’s Sustainable Vineyard Documentary Screening this evening from 6 to 7:30 pm; a seed swap and germination testing workshop Sunday, January 31, 2 to 4 pm; and a workshop — MV Teens Write for Radio — also Sunday afternoon, 2 to 4.

Blue Cullen’s cats sent me a bouquet of the prettiest pink tulips, a thank you for feeding them one evening last week. I set them (the tulips, not the cats) into a clear glass vase and onto the table in my living room, where I have enjoyed watching them open and make a spring-like showing against the snowy trees outside. With all the preparations for the storm, I forgot to cut forsythia branches to force inside. I always try to remember to do it in time for Groundhog Day in memory of Dionis Riggs, who started the party and always had a bouquet of forsythia on her dining room table. Maybe Talley and I will tramp outside to cut some branches and hope they show color by the time my tulips go by.

My Comcast email isn’t working again, so I apologize to anyone who sent me something that didn’t make it into this column.