Hi, this is Philip again. I decided to take a two week winter trip. Went to see Lou Ann, then we traveled to Texas to visit her parents in Houston. I was a good sport and sat through several hours of old home movies! Actually it was fun to see images from her former life (it is quite interesting -- she lived in a farmhouse without running water, cooked on a wood stove, spun her own wool, and raised chickens, rabbits, goats, & cows, among many other things).
We spent New Years Eve with my 95 year old aunt and her daughter. Went to the Grapevine Opry (in Grapevine, Texas) for a country music celebration. The theater is larger than Ocracoke's Deepwater Theater, but there was a lot of down home banter and good cheer. All of the performers, much like at home, were friends, so we heard about their husbands, wives, and children. And the music was superb, especially one ten year old girl who belted out "Your Cheatin' Heart!"
Back on the island life is slow and quiet. And cold. Not as cold as the mid west (a foot of snow covered everything in northeast Indiana, transforming Lou Ann's small town into a fairy land), but it has been below freezing several nights (it's in the low 40s right now). I haven't been down to the campground yet, but the road is definitely closed as contractors begin replacing all seven bridges on the island. Completion is scheduled for no later than mid-March, maybe sooner.
In the meanwhile, all traffic (other than 4-wheel drive) comes and goes by way of Swan Quarter or Cedar Island. Dare Building brought a 4-wheel drive delivery truck, and an unfamiliar fuel delivery truck has been on the island. There's also a brand new helicopter landing pad by the airstrip in case of medical emergencies. I haven't been out there yet to see if a helicopter is stationed here now. But there is also an additional yellow fire truck on the island "just in case." It's nice to know that the authorities have done a thorough job of preparing for this period of enhanced isolation.
I might make another off-island trip later this month. Michael Stanwood, a musician friend of mine, is coming to the island in a week or so, and I might leave the house to him for a while so he and fiddler Dave can practice undisturbed in my living room for another CD.
Our latest monthly newsletter is the story of the Christmas Eve wreck of the British steamship, Ariosto, in 1899. You can read it here.