The Cut

Some call it The Opening.

Others call it The Cut.

Tisbury Great Pond Opening

Along the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard are a series of Great Ponds. They were at one time the rivers which drained the glaciers which created the island, thousands of years ago. These riverbeds became ponds as the Great Ice melted and sea levels rose. The barrier beach moved north, blocked off former riverbeds, and formed great ponds.

Climatologists call the last twelve thousand years of melting ice and rising water the Flandrian Stage. Sea level has risen seventy meters during this time. The Atlantic is still rising.

The first part of the Flandrian stage, when the ocean was rising most rapidly, is known as the “Flandrian Transgression”. Our island and our beautiful great ponds, created by a transgression? The phrase makes us out to seem sinful, doesn’t it?

The Flandrian Transgression is the Original Sin of Martha’s Vineyard.

Our existence as an island will be an eyeblink in the history of this planet. A quick blink, at that. Our home is geographic ephemera. The Wampanoags know this fact well. Their stories say that Capawac, or Noepe, our hundred square miles of home, are sand from Maushop’s moccasins, or dottle from his pipe. Dottle and sand won’t last. Neither will Noepe.

Aquinnah, Quitsa, Quenames, Tashmoo, Tisissa, Pohogonot, Chappaquonsett, Katama and Chappaquiddick will all, someday, lie underneath the sea. Our future is to be an Atlantic Atlantis.

Periodically, the great ponds break through to the ocean, releasing water to the sea. During the periods that ocean and ponds are connected, water interchanges. These estuarine environments are rich in fowl, fish, and shellfish. These ponds are also areas of great beauty.

The Cut is where the Atlantic and Tisbury Great Pond communicate with each other. Sometimes they’re held apart by a barrier, and don’t actually communicate much at all, except by seepage. Ooze on first? At times the two fight. The pond, in spate, can burst into the ocean. The ocean, in turn, can burst through and inundate the pond. When near equilibrium, on a perfect summer day, the two waters, lovers, entwine and mingle.

A new opening reveals the structure of the barrier beach.

The Cut reveals…

Immediately after an opening, sandforms and ripples are exposed. Drying winds and passing feet will soon mar and destroy these forms, but to be on the beach the day after an opening is a feast for the pattern lover.

Different depths of water, different winds and waves, different currents, produce an infinity.

So do the cycling tides.

Nearer views hold detail that repeats and extends as you look at larger areas. Rippling water and rippling sand become echoes of each other.

Nature is the artist at the Cut.

5 responses to “The Cut

  1. Susanna, Apologies, but I can’t help myself sometimes. Have been told that my proclivity is a male tendancy, and is possibly a sex-linked genetic defect. (Maybe women just have better manners, or are more discreet, about punning?)

  2. Full disclosure: Tom are you a secret agent of the M.V. Chamber of Commerce? Your blogs, and especially this one, have me yearning to get there to see this beauty for myself…and maybe swim in the ponds!

  3. I am not a secret agent. Parts of me would prefer that 3 out of 4 people here would just go away. This island has an underbelly, a darker side, which is not the beauty that’s in this post. Perhaps I shall take on some of these other aspects in future posts. This place is no paradise, but it does offer many things which are hard to find elsewhere. It’s been my home for a long time.

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