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What's New on the Block, Issue #001 -- Winter on Block Island
December 18, 2008
"So, what do you do here in the Winter?" This is without a doubt one of the top asked questions by visitors. After the summer winds down and things slow down, the people that actually live on Block Island year round start to be seen again. The ferry ride changes from sitting shoulder to should without knowing a soul to a floating community center. Mondays and Thursdays are busy days as the ferry schedules more than one boat to "America." That's when we make our off island appointments and do our shopping. The other days can be spent in a variety of ways which I will share with you.
Soon after Columbus day the majority of shops, restaurants and hotels close down. Weekends with good weather still bring a good amount of tourists taking advantage of off season rates and end of the season store discounts.
Thanksgiving weekend marks the hibernation of the island. With the main drag all boarded up, it's tough to remember the hustle and bustle that was the norm just weeks ago.
Islanders that have year round jobs still work a regular week, with the benefit of the pace being remarkably relaxed. Those of us with seasonal jobs or businesses close our doors and cross our fingers that we have enough saved to carry us through the winter. Some go south and enjoy a vacation. Some have odd jobs for the winter. House watching is popular.
What is a typical day like? I can only speak for myself though I know more than a few of my fellow islanders to be in a similar routine:
A typical day begins by waking up when I feel like it followed by doing whatever I feel like doing. Trips to the Post Office, Library and Grocery Store are a must for that's where we get our information and some quality social interaction.
If the weather is good, I like to go clamming. Usually, and despite what the weather is, I go for a long walk on a deserted beach. Sometimes others are on their walks. Dogs run free and we all wave to one another whether we are walking or driving.
My partner and I cook almost every meal from scratch. He catches fish until the end of Novemberish, hunts for pheasant and deer, and checks his lobster pots. I like to experiment with new foods and recipes, I have the time unlike summer when every meal is eaten out and on the run, and besides, there is one diner and only 2 pubs open.
There are lots of others doing what we do so we like to have dinner parties. Pot luck parties, coffee parties, movie parties and party parties. Our Netflix account goes from almost no activity to as many as they will send us. With no time to watch TV in the summer, we catch up on all of the missed HBO & Showtime series by watching a whole season of a show in a day or two!
We work on projects, enjoy our hobbies and learn new things. We go on vacation. We visit people off island. The other day I went to the Christmas Pageant at the island school. This well attended event brings the whole community together.
There are indoor volleyball and basketball leagues. The local pub uses the WII system to create bowling and golf tournaments.
The deserted streets are decorated for the holidays and some of the shops open up for Christmas Shopping. New Year's Eve is a big weekend. January and February are months that can get depressing, especially if the weather is dreary. By March if you are still on island you begin to "high five" everyone you see simple because you made it through to the other side!
Once it's time to open up shop again I always say the same thing: "When did I find time to work?"
It is a different sort of life and there are trade offs but I love it!
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