From the kitchen window looking out at the blizzard

Being snowbound on the Vineyard is a new experience for Howie. He gave up sunny California to make his home with me on what I’d assured him was a gentle island. The temperatures on Martha’s Vineyard seldom go as low as 20 degrees, I remember telling him. We get maybe six snowstorms a year, usually no more than three to six inches, and it’s all gone in three days.  The snowdrops are in bloom by the first week of February, I said.

We are in the third week of February, and the poor snowdrops are buried under three inches of glacial ice and four-foot drifts of crystallizing snow that fell back in January.  Last night, another foot of snow  dumped on us.  The temperatures are hovering between 2 and 19 degrees F.  Town and state workers are out there clearing the main roads as the snow falls.  Last night we went to sleep hearing the distinctive sound of the trio of snowplows rumbling along the Edgartown Road.  Although main roads are clear,  our drive, a matter of  a couple  hundred feet from the house to the Edgartown Road, remains treacherous.


Path chipped through  ice toward the birdfeeder

 The worst footing is at the base of the west step, where the snow has melted and refrozen into a pyramid of slick ice that has caused at least four tumbles, including by Howie and me.  Fortunately,  a four-foot snow bank softened the falls. It seems odd to be blocked from freedom by such a short stretch of ice. We ventured out once, and realized it was not a sensible move on our part.  On that expedition, we went to Cronig’s Up Island, where we exchanged snow stories with neighbors, showed off the YakTrax on the bottoms of our boots, and bought  groceries,  kitty litter,  and birdseed — and more birdseed.  Ninety dollars worth.


Birds take turns at the window feeder


Finding a way to the squirrel-proof bird feeder

Our bird feeders, two hanging by the cookroom window and a large one across the drive have attracted birds desperate for food.  We’ve counted more than fifty at a time.  Seven cardinals, brilliant red against the white snow, show up morning, noon, and mid-day.  The cardinals, goldfinches, and blue jays, add color to the drab gray and white landscape. Two squirrels have joined the hungry mob, and birds and squirrels seem to get along. I make the trek to the empty feeder across the ice slick drive once a day, carrying a tote bag full of seeds that Howie has poured into it.  Each time I feel, on a small scale, as though I’ve conquered the first twenty feet of Half Dome.

An indoor garden staves off cabin fever

An indoor garden staves off cabin fever

Being snowbound has its advantages.  All the chores we’ve put off to a better time are getting done.  This is the better time that  procrastination has led to.  Organizing computer files, writing letters, indoor gardening, cleaning closets, adding those 5,000 words to my next book that my editor wants. . .


Lynn Christoffers with snowshoes in hand


Hens feeding on the ice-free kitchen step

The past weeks have made Howie and me,  independent souls that we are,  appreciate our neighbors and friends. Lynn has been taking care of the hens and guineas. She crosses the hazardous ice fields to bring us eggs the hens have been laying dutifully.  One of our hens, Lady Gaga, decided to take shelter under the porch.  Lynn, unable to coax her out, installed a light to keep her warm and brings her food and water.

Lynn trying to coax Lady Gaga out from under the deck

Lynn coaxing Lady Gaga out from under the deck

Chris came by yesterday to ask Howie for advice on some microbiological problem he has, but actually, I suspect it was to make sure we were all right.  He extracted several armloads of wood from the frozen woodpile on the west step and stacked in the entry, where we can get to the firewood without going outside.

Kevin’s snowplow couldn’t deal with the drifts in our drive, so he sent his brother, Joe, with his Bobcat to clear it.  Dan came by with a petition for us to sign and to ask how we were doing. David, our nephew, called a few minutes ago to ask if we needed help.  Mark called, promising to surprise us with a visit. Our lawyer  has come by twice to make sure the revision of my will is what I want.  I do wonder about that.

The entry filled with firewood and birdseed

The entry filled with firewood and birdseed

The diminishing woodpile Howie stacked on the west step

The diminishing woodpile  stacked on the west step

Off season, in difficult times, our Island is a very small community.

♥     ♥     ♥


About Cynthia Riggs

CYNTHIA RIGGS, author of eleven books in the Martha’s Vineyard mystery series, has a geology degree from Antioch College, an MFA from Vermont College, and a Coast Guard Masters License (100-ton vessels). She recently married Dr. Howard Attebery, who came back into her life after 62 years.
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3 Responses to SNOWBOUND

  1. Sandy Baxter says:

    Dear Cynthia and Howie, So glad your friends are looking after you. It is so refreshing to hear that people really do care about their neighbors and friends! I’m sure you will survive this and laugh about it, especially Howie and hearing you tell him it has NEVER been this bad here… Maybe you can work this into a future book. We are in Texas for the winter in our motorhome with our two dogs. We have had some cold nights, but lots of sun, too. We are near Kerrville, in the hill country, west of Austin. Beautiful hills, etc. Hope to see you on another cruise! Sandy and Bob Baxter

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Summer Songs says:

    What an ordeal this storm has been for all involved! Thank goodness for helpers of all kinds, for the hens providing the warm fresh eggs, to your hens’ helper, Lynn, to the other folks who you have mentioned. It is astonishing to me that you have managed to send me the reading guide for Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries for my reference as I explore them for the first time (only discovering YOU yesterday!) Best wishes and keep safe and sane! PS Loved the squirrel eating from the squirrel-proof bird feeder! 😀

  3. Vicki Kennedy says:

    I’ve been thinking of you and Howie up in all that snow–even here in Florida, it froze last night–a first in my area.  One of my sons called me this morning to tell me it was 29 below 0 where he is in Ohio.  All my friends are asking, are you SURE you want to move back to the Vineyard?  I started laughing when I read how you had assured Howie it’s never that bad during Vineyard winters–my memories concur with what you said to him, but this winter is an exception to our memories, no matter where we live.  Please stay inside and stay warm!Peace,Vicki Kennedy

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