|Beach Road, facing drawbridge|
|Beach Road facing Eastville Beach|
|Skipping Stones would be difficult at low tide.|
What is the opposite of “writer’s block?” In the long hiatus since I wrote last, I have had the opposite of “writer’s block.” Perhaps we might name it Writer’s Abundance. In my waking hours, as well as my sleeping hours, I have been awash with ideas. I tried to exercise discipline and write them down. Now that, that simple chore, I resisted. Strands of paragraphs, essay titles, and spring-loaded words (such as abandon which sends you chasing after a surfeit of tales) come to me in their own time, without my conscious bidding. I am left with more words to write than I have time to write them. That, by definition, is a conundrum.
I am back on Martha’s Vineyard for several weeks. I am tempted to include a little map with a pin indicating “You Are Here” after a customer service representative at Garnet Hill said, “Martha’s Vineyard? Is that in Pennsylvania?” I am geographically situated across from Sunset Lake in Oak Bluffs, Masachusetts. I have studied that little man-made lake for my entire life. Monday, February 19th was the first day I ever saw it empty. I also saw the bottom of parts of Lagoon Pond that I have never seen exposed.
A small arch of land emerged under the drawbridge on Beach Road on the way into Vineyard Haven. Some of the boats in Vineyard Haven harbor had much of their hulls exposed. It looked like a giant had used a straw to suction seawater from the bodies of salt and brackish water. I couldn’t understand why everyone was going on about their business as if everything was perfectly mundane and unremarkable. Why were there not cluster of onlookers with cameras? They gather in the wake of a celebrity sighting, but not for a bizarre and freakish event such as this? Sengekontaket Pond is a large (2.5 miles), salt-water pond that stretches between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. When the tide was at its lowest on Monday, I could sight a route as if I had skipped a stone from the Joseph Sylvia State Beach side of the 6 - 8-foot deep Sengekontacket to its opposite shore at Major’s Cove. The tide left the pond embarrassingly bare; it was not worthy of the name Pond. Maybe it would be more apt to call it an inlet.
I met only one other man out with a camera. He asked if I planned to send my photos into the Vineyard Gazette. I demurred after quickly doing the math. I’d have to rush home, sort and tidy my photos and write a winning cover letter before anyone beat me to the punch. Then my mind went skidding back to college days and writing for a newspaper on a deadline. Not for me these days. I did not, however, let go of the possibilities in this idea. I wanted to know how extreme reverse tidal surge had come to happened. Could this phenomenon, whatever it was, be the fundamental truth of the parting of the Red Sea? I could believe it possible.
I read and looked through various sources, trying not to be distracted by titles such as How to Make Chili that Everyone Loves, The World’s Best Speech, Princess Kate’s Baby Bump Blossoms. I held tight to the rope that bound me the this tidal mystery. I learned that the moon, a quarter-moon, was not the cause. Nor was it the meteor that landed in Russia. I found the answer on Feb 19, 2013. It was a post-blizzard gift. Kind of like the inverse of a storm surge. Stephen Gill, the senior scientist for the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services explained the dynamics to Nelson Sigelman, a reporter for the mvtimes.com.
Mr. Gill is quoted as saying,
"It had to do with the intense, little low pressure offshore system that formed with a strong pressure gradient.That system produced sustained winds from the north-northwest that affected communities along the coast from Montauk Point at the east end of Long Island to Nantucket. "It affected all of the stations along that part of the coast because the winds were coming and blowing the water offshore," he said. "Very strong, sustained winds from 15 to 20 knots with sustained gusts up to 30, 35 knots. When they are sustained like that and coming from the same direction they will move water. When that happens — the orientation of the coast with the strong sustained winds — it ends up blowing the water offshore and away from the coastline, and that's why you had these low tides."
It was not an all-time low tide. “But what if”. I asked myself. “What if a murder took place on one side of the Pond and the murderer was able to walk to the other side of the pond during one of these tidal lows; thereby, providing a perfect alibi? The method of egress would be erased by the rising tide. I would read that book! I am flooded with ideas, overwhelmed with possibilities. The difficult task at this juncture is to choose wisely. Choose what I want to say and where I want to say it. But then, when you get down to the essentials, isn’t the same true for all of us?