by Rick Conti
Most people have heard the old idiom referring to the darkest, coldest days of the year as “the dead of winter.” This humble writer is here to tell you that there is life in the cold, dark days of winter if you have the good fortune to spend them on Martha’s Vineyard.
Last month, I wrote about a few of the culinary diversions available to off-season visitors to this fair isle. There’s more to do than eat, however.
The absence of the crowds that characterize the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer gives the cool, crisp, peaceful days of winter a special feel every bit as pleasurable in their own way as the high season, if you know how to take advantage of them. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I’m here to give you the advice you need for a winter respite.
First of all, there’s the beach. The beach is for summer activities only, right? Wrong. A walk on the beach on a brisk winter day, provided you’re dressed for it, provides a sensory treat that’s hard to match. Chances are that you’ll have the sand to yourself whether you choose to pass the time hiking, jogging, or simply sitting and drinking in the sights and sounds of the ever-changing shore.
My personal preference is for a good winter beach exploration. With no competition to hinder you, there is an undisturbed environment awaiting your curiosity. My most memorable finds include some amazing driftwood and shells, not to mention the carcasses of a massive sea turtle and a seal.
Dead animals and frozen toes not to your taste? Then warm yourself in front of a blazing fire with a cup of cocoa or the hot beverage of your choice. There are fireplaces in many restaurants and hotels, but my hearths of choice are located in the luxury suites at the Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites. (No gratuity was awarded for this shameless promotion, although I can always dream.) Okay, so the switch-controlled, gas-powered fires aren’t exactly authentic old school, but… what the heck. You can light and stoke the wood for half an hour while I curl up by the gas fire in an instant.
In winter, the air, clear as a perfect diamond, shimmers with color and spark. The water’s surface is flecked with frozen silver and gold. And sunsets take on a unique glow unknown in the other seasons. Seeing any of that during a stroll on a winter beach or wooded island lane will remain frozen in your memory long after the frost has thawed.
After all that outside activity, you’ll have built up an appetite for a hearty meal of warm comfort food. I commend your attention to my previous post on island winter fare .
Save a cup of cocoa and room by the fire for me. We can compare dead animal sightings.