To get to Chappaquiddick you must pass through Edgartown proper. As you follow the signs thru the narrow streets to the Chappy Ferry, you will find yourself in a place of white picket fences, window boxes, neatly trimmed hedges of boxwood and privet, white Federal style houses with dark green doors and shutters, small manicured lawns, and garden paths leading to casual flower beds and to the water’s edge. It is an old whaling town that has had a great impact on my own style and my thinking about home and garden over the years. I love how the front of the houses are formal and the backs are less so. I love the respect for history in the architecture, whether it is renovations or new homes being built. There is the smell of sea air and roses on summer days mingled with the clinking of glasses raised for a toast and the laughter of children and ringing of church bells (not just on Sundays). There are the water views and sailboats and the lighthouse. Edgartown is well-worn but tidy, and I like that.
The Chappy Ferry (actually there are two boats most of the time) holds three cars or two trucks and takes less than five minutes to cross. There is no town proper on Chappaquiddick. No cobblestone streets. Just sandy dirt roads. There are no shops or restaurants. There is one small store: The Chappy Store (recently purchased and revamped from its original very rustic, shall I say a bit run down condition). And the houses are not the thing on Chappy; they are hidden away for the most part, off the beaten path among the trees. The locals (there are some) will tell you about the unusual life on Chappy, like how the school children on the school bus cross over on the ferry every morning (and all you can picture are the children and the yellow bus on the rough water under gray, foggy skies with seagulls calling). You go to Chappaquiddick for the quietness and the beauty of nature that is left alone out there on the beaches and the trails. You go for the farm grown vegetable and flowers (amazing dahlias, sunflowers, lilies, and so on…), four-wheeling and kayaking, the calm, still nights and stargazing. It’s a place set apart from the rest of Martha’s Vineyard—rough around the edges and no-nonsense.
If Edgartown is like a Keats poem, romantic and flowery, Chappaquiddick makes me think of Emily Dickinson’s work, small but full of beauty, mystery, and awe.
So—this is where I have been lately. I hope you all have been well.
(*All photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr.)