Nonamesset Quintet

As cold fronts approach our part of New England, the wind goes to the Southwest. The southern warmth gooses the thermometer. As the front nears, wind increases. This time of year, you can be chilly in the wind, but overhot if you’re in a calm, sunny location.

The humidity in the warm moist air reduces visibility. It’s not quite fog, but the air is thick.

We got on the ferry at noon yesterday. The SW wind was snapping flags at the Steamship Authority terminal.

Soon after we left the dock, I went on deck to take yet more photos of Nonamessett.

The end of October is “peak” season for color in these part.

The early trees have lost their leaves, but maples and sumacs are aflame.


Nonamessett. Beetlebung trees in silhouette. The Albert Fischer “Memorial Grove”.

The wind was so strong it was necessary to hold the camera against the boat, to keep from spoiling exposures from camera motion.


The old explosives shack on Nonamessett.

The ancient roof and double chimney of the Nonamessett House looks at us from behind rolling striations of sumac, bayberry, little bluestem, roses, and scrub oak.


The Nonamessett House has now existed in four centuries. What would we seem like to each other, the 18th century builders of this house and the 21st century photographer, could we by some magic meet in a hole in time?

Were you to lie down among these grasses and bushes, you’d smell salt, and seaweed, and bayberry.

There would be whiffs of “What is that?”.


What is it that draws us to return to a scene again and again? This house never looks the same, whatever the time of day, weather, or season.

The retreating glaciers of ten or twelve thousand years ago left these half-drowned morainal hills, these wee island heights, that persist in the face of rising sea level. The old house seems ancient to us, but these islands are but temporary features at the edge of land and water. Nonamessett’s time on the planet will be but an eye-blink of geologic time.


A patch of wild grasses on the sloping land. They make a curving swash of tan.

The ferry turns east, out of the Woods Hole Passage, into Vineyard Sound, where southwest swells are mounting higher.

For now, it’s windy and warm.

Tomorrow will be twenty degrees cooler.

Cold front coming…


One response to “Nonamesset Quintet

  1. What a wonderful reminder of the smallness of mankind in time and space. Your descriptions of the weather and climate made me feel I could almost be right there. The angle of the structure, combined with the caption “The old explosives shack on Nonamessett.” made me laugh.

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