Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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We’re burned through most of January and it feels as if New Year’s Eve took place last week. I still hear people wishing others Happy New Year. Some of this may be wishful thinking on their part. Feeling good about the future won’t make it take place more quickly. But, I’ve always believed that a favorable outlook is preferable to being depressed about what might be ahead of us.

I am hearing some good news from people in the construction trades. There are homeowners calling workers up for projects in the near future. This spring may not be as busy as years gone by, though there is going to be enough work to keep most of us gainfully employed. As usual, once we get well into spring, there will be the usual phone calls from homeowners wanting work done . . . yesterday.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had several conversations with friends and acquaintances regarding to how slow it is around the island. All have had the same basic responses. We are happy to return to a quiet winter. Now is when we have the time to see one another and take a breather in preparation for the upcoming spring and summer. For a while (the past decade or so), it felt as if there was no time off from the crush.

I see that town counsel Paul DeRensis is considering running for the Massachusetts State Senate (I&M story here), to replace Scott Brown who is now our new U.S. senator. Unlike Mr. Brown, I don’t believe we’ll be seeing Paul as a centerfold in Cosmopolitan.

I took a ride last Sunday, hoping to find a pond and do a little fishing. As I said in my first column (Fishfinder), the best thing about fishing is that you see things other people don’t. On this day, there wasn’t any fishing to be done, because there was skim ice on the seven ponds I visited. I did have some interesting experiences while visiting the spots I’d normally be wading.

The first stop was the North Head of Long Pond. Nothing was happening there. Across Madaket Road, I noticed paths through the thin ice, while at the end of each icy trail, large white birds were head down, feeding on aquatic plants on the bottom. I don’t remember seeing that before.

From there I went out to the Second Bridge. One open spot was miniscule, and there were no birds or other wildlife to be seen. The ocean end of the pond was in a similar condition, though there were a few lonesome ducks milling around a small opening in the ice. Driving to and then across Massasoit Bridge, I drove beyond Sheep Pond and then toward Clark’s Cove (the west side of Hummock Pond).
On the way there I looked out at fields covered with golden brown grass. This kind of terrain makes me think about the way idle, desolate wheat fields appear after the harvest. Above them, there were four hawks gliding to and fro, while surveying the open land for an afternoon meal.

My next stop was Wannacomet (Washing) Pond. I did my first (island) freshwater fishing here. It was one of the more pristine spots back then. Today, it’s a trash dump. This was the sole low point in my afternoon. There weren’t just the beer cans one sees tossed alongside roads everywhere these days. Construction debris and household trash was scattered about in several places. Picking up a couple five-gallon buckets of others’ garbage was disheartening and I continued on.

From there it was a short hop to the North Head of Hummock Pond. Looking out at the cliff over by Ram Pasture quickly banished the bad thoughts I’d had a few minutes before. What was surprising was not seeing dogs or people along the top ridge. I had seen close to a dozen vehicles in the parking lot when I had passed that way. There was another hawk there, working the shoreline to my right. Dipping to within a couple of feet of the wind-battered cattails, it looked as if hunting on a cool, sunny day might be play, rather than survival.

I traveled over to Hummock Pond, by Bartlett’s fields and from there to Miacomet Pond. I noticed at least a dozen bundled-up golfers out in the parking lot, so I’m guessing the links were full up. Golf isn’t my game, but I give anybody credit for getting out and enjoying a wonderful winter day.

The one constant I observed at every pond I visited was how high the water levels were. There is no drought on-island. Some basements must be oozing moisture right through their foundations about now.

Tuesday is Quentin the Quahog Day. Should he drool out of the right side of his “mouth” we are done with winter. Otherwise, it’s six more weeks of the same old, same old. No matter which side the briny juice flows, my prediction is at least six more weeks of cool, windy weather to luxuriate in, until things around here begin getting crazy.
“Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and monthly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

4 Responses to “Goodman’s Gam”

  1. Kenny B. Says:

    Hi David – et al – Enjoyed reading of your travels around the island. The birders took a nice walk last Sunday starting at the parking lot of the offices of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, then north on Hinckley Land, then across to the west and back along Gosnold. On the way we had a magnificent view of Nantucket Sound which was like glass. An extraordinarily clear day we could easily see the Vineyard.

    I was over on the Cape on Thursday and linked up with some of the birders there to view the rare, western stray Townsend’s Solitaire that is hanging out in Yarmouthport.

    The Sound was just covered with the three species of scoters, and Long-tailed Ducks as we came back.

    Hasn’t the moon be stunning the past few nights? My notes say this is also the largest full moon of the year since it is also at its closest point to us. Mars is near the moon and Jupiter is that planet you see masquerading as Venus just after sunset in the west.

    The hams are doing a radio exercise, Operation Clear Ice this morning (Saturday), communicating on various frequencies without the use of repeaters. We set up temporary antennas away from our Emergency Operations Center in order to test are ability to do that and make things work.

    All for now –

  2. Greg Garber Says:

    David–a split rail fence down the middle of the Steps Beach path?????

    also, if you haven’t seen it already, the Feb. 1 issue of The New Yorker is outstanding…..

  3. David Says:

    Hi Greg, Unless you weight 300 pounds, or you’re inebriated, it’s easy to walk by on the way to the beach. I’ll have other comments on Thursday. I haven’t seen The New Yorker, but I’ll keep my eye out for a copy. Thanks for the tip. **David**

  4. Greg Garber Says:

    The New Yorker has articles on the U.S. Secretary of Education, the rebuilding of the German city of Dresden, the Tea Party Patriot phenomenon, and the NYC Department of Investigations. The cover sketch takes a swipe at our President…..

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