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Photo Essay: A Sconset Winter


There’s an annual event brewing out here on the east end, one that if we are a lucky will never catch the attention of the Chamber of Commerce.

 It’s been dubbed the Sconset Stonehenge, and involves a mid-September gathering at the rotary flag pole, where revelers watch the setting sun’s rays punch through a hole created by the canopy of maple trees at the top of Main Street.

It’s rather stunning, actually, as a supernova blast of hot plasma and roaring photons light up the inside of the trees in a golden explosion, bouncing gaudy crazy-bagel reflections off the black asphalt and its double yellow line.

This homage to the mysterious workings of the universe is in one sense a send-off to The Season just past, celebrated with a bit of a cocktail party at the same time, but it is also a subliminal admission that winter is upon us.

A Sconset winter.

Decades ago, the village was a self-sufficient bustling community of families and businesses. It hosted a two-room schoolhouse, two laundries, a hardware store, grocery and its own fire station.

Over time, and through no fault of its own, these things shifted away. Fortunately, these days we still have the community. And we have the post office, our off-season cultural center. Today the handful of children who live here ride the bus to school in town, and people risk limb and fender driving the icy Milestone Road to fetch groceries, brass hinges and starched shirts.  

The wind presents itself harshly here at the edge of the world during these months, something easily forgotten during the rest of the year. It blows just a little harder off the ocean, taking away the land and the beaches and the houses.

When the sea freezes, it sends up smoke and turns the waves to slush. The nor’easters tear into the bluff’s exposed face, sending million-year-old particles high into the air, ancient dust that somehow finds its way into your house and betwixt your teeth.

And yet, winter resets the clock on Sconset. The flash and pomp lose their boisterousness, and the place settles into an even, undatable state of patinaed equilibrium. There’s an easy whisper in the air.

On any given day, you might see Jerry driving his Little Red Wagon around the village, checking on the state of things. Around Christmas, you’ll certainly see Snooky counting how many houses have lights on inside, in hopes of ascertaining the winter population of Sconset (about 100).

At the USPS Cultural Center, Juleanna will no doubt be sorting the mail, Rick will be sitting at the bus stop eager to offer a walking tour of the village and you might even catch me changing a brass hinge on the old door at the Sankaty Head Lighthouse.

Double-decades ago, during the halcyon theater days, there was a musical number performed at the Siasconset Casino called “Buy a Ticket to ’Sconset.” Well, you may as well do that now during this quiet time, because before long, when it starts warming up again, those Gunite trucks, the ones used to work on the growing number of swimming pools, will be rolling again, and the opportunity will have been lost.