Island Snowstorm

 Having spent the first thirty years of my life living on the California coast I don’t think I can ever stop seeing a New England snowfall as a pure and simple miracle!  Even after all these years on the island.  Sometimes I think maybe this year it won’t happen, but then it always does!  This view from our kitchen window is a wonderful, miraculous thing to wake up to.  It makes cinnamon toast and hot tea taste even better!

Our first snowstorm this season came late, not until January.  But we were ready, plenty of wood piled in the back hall, Joe had put the snow shovel in the pantry so he wouldn’t have to dig a path to the barn with his hands!

It started innocently, a few flakes came sifting down, but soon, with an assist from a sharp wind swooping off the harbor, every rooftop, picket fence, tree limb, and porch roof was edged, then blanketed, in white.  A wall of gray mist blocked out the sky and hung over the shore blurring the line between land and sea . . . pure white snowflakes poured down from every direction, swirling off the roof of the barn, a ticker-tape parade in celebration of nature. 

The views from inside the house make me feel lucky to be alive . . . this one is from the living room . . . it’s a Christmas card!

Looking out the kitchen window toward the barn . . . the feeders were filled with chickadees, wrens, nuthatches, and cardinals, tiny feathered things, brave souls, hungry in the snow, keeping warm by doing lots of eating — much the same as yours truly.

 It’s a decorator’s dream, white on white, polka dots (very fashionable!), with smidgens of black trim thrown in for graphic contrast!   Joe and I decided to go for a ride and check out the island; we brought back lots of photos, so now it’s your turn to go for a ride!  I can barely wait till you see the ferry docking!!  While Joe cleaned off the windshield and heated the van, I checked out the garden . . . ♦     ♦     ♦

We’re only growing snow flowers today!  But it’s still a “lovely garden.” 

 If you look closely at the tree, you’ll see a little bit of inspiration, my favorite bird house.  Before I moved to Martha’s Vineyard I didn’t realize that snow gathers on twigs as tiny and narrow as a needle; the thinnest ledge on the picket fence, the tiniest leaf, is brimmed in snow. 

Cozy in sweater layers, topped with fleece-lined jackets, heavy socks and boots, leather gloves, wool hats and scarves, we head out to explore — if we fall down we probably won’t be able to get up, we are so layered and fat now, like the kid in the snowsuit in Christmas Story — Joe calls what we’re doing an “airing” as in, do you need an airing?  Yes, I do!!

But you need musica to do this, if Martha’s Vineyard had a voice, this is exactly what it would sound like . . . and never more beautiful than on a snow day.

Down our street we go, cutting through the mist to Main Street . . . and a drive out to West Chop . . .

♥     ♥     ♥

Some of you are probably starting to recognize the places in my photos — remember the photo I put up of the West Chop Lighthouse under the full moon?  Here it is in the snow . . . you can barely tell where the land ends and the water begins!

A beautiful long fence collects snow . . .

 I visited this tiny graveyard on my first trip to the island.  It was fall; the leaves were coming down in crimson and orange; I had no choice but to fall in love, wouldn’t you?  That will be thirty years ago, March sixth of this year.  Like it was yesterday.

Beautiful houses are even more beautiful in the snow.

Lines get blurred with the blowing snow and wind off the sound on our left.  Can you imagine being a whaling captain in the 1800’s in this weather?  It’s easy to do that around here!

Another cozy little house in the snow…

Joe had to get out and play with the windshield wipers.  (Any excuse to get out and play!)  We wandered around a bit more out there and then fishtailed and slid our way back into town . . .

Past the darling houses . . .

to the harbor . . . the shoreline with the sweet old houses, and this little green boat with the red life saver.  But then the real fun started, because the ferry came in . . . so we ran over to watch it dock  . . .


It’s exciting when the boat comes and goes, no matter what time of year, but it’s extra-special in the winter — there are few tourists; mostly it’s just us and the clanging of chains, the hardworking boat guys (three times their normal size with all the layers they wear); people, bent against the wind, grab at blowing scarves as they climb the ramp to get on board; the line up of trucks and cars send steam twirling up into the cold.  Once in a while, the ferry stops running; the harbor freezes and we are all trapped.  That’s when it really gets fun!  But it takes a lot more than this “little” storm!

We drove around a little more; then Joe dropped me off at the back driveway so I could walk up the long way; I took this picture of the house next door to us — always so pretty in the snow!

And then up to my own back door . . . it’s warm and cozy in there, there are kitties waiting!

I love Gladys Taber; she always says the right thing.  And then, Home Sweet Home . . . where we found this . . .

. . . for the first time, they shared the back of the sofa!  We made a fire

. . . and watched a wonderful old English movie with Wendy Hiller called, I Know Where I’m Going.

 I caramelized some onions and put an Onion Pudding (Look in “Home Cooking” for the recipe!) in the oven — and continued to watch the storm . . .

 . . . the garden from our upstairs window

Life goes on, no matter the weather — I loved seeing these people trudging along with their umbrella.  I never knew you used an umbrella in the snow, but sometimes it comes down so hard you can’t see, you need an umbrella to fend it off.

After the sun went down, we turned the Christmas lights back on the tree in our front yard.  We didn’t have snow at Christmas this year, but we knew we would someday, so we left lights on the tree just for this moment!  Now we are complete!  A celebration of our first snow!  You need to come to the island in winter to experience the deep quiet a snowfall brings; I think you’ll love it.  ♥

68 Responses to Island Snowstorm

  1. Clair says:

    I absolutely LOVE your photos of your snow. Thank you so much for sharing them. In our warmer-than-usual winter in Houston, TX, these photos are very welcome. Tonight it has cooled down, and I’m pretending your pictures are “my outside”. 🙂

  2. Terri says:

    I’m living in CA now… a transplant from WI. We moved here over 30 years ago, and I still cannot relate to Christmas or winter at all. No snow where we live. I love, love, love that you love the snow, and your post here is so lovely it made me cry. I do miss the 4th season! Thank you for the lovely pictures, and the lovely word pictures, too.

  3. Cindy says:

    only one word comes to mind after viewing your photos BEAUTIFUL! I’ve been to Martha’s Vinyard in the summer which is wonderful (I never want to leave) Now after enjoying your photos I have to come in the winter Thank you for the wonderful photos it’s so peaceful

  4. Nancy Borden says:

    You are right about the deep quiet a snowstorm brings, I think that is what I love most about snow. That and the magical transformation of the landscape. Love to walk my dog at the cemetary and the surrounding wooods in the snow. Probably the big reason I’ll never move from Michigan is the snow and the fact that we have all 4 seasons, something to love about each one.

  5. Wendy Louise says:

    All our snow just melted and I was browsing thru your gallery and found this one. I sure hope you keep it up through the summer. I love the snow time, I love all the seasons but the winter is the coziest time. Each season has its’ special feeling and I just adore New England for that, no other place I’d rather be. Oh I do love visiting other places, but I love comming home and just living in my cozy little home in New England. The seasons are so a part of our living here,if you listen to them. Thank-you so much for your beautiful blog, it brings me peace.

  6. Sharon Mills says:

    I live in Ohio and we generally have snow, but this year hardly a smidgen!
    So I enjoyed all you snow pictures. Beautiful. I love to be home when it’s snowing and snuggle up with my kitties, books and tea. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Heaven. Thanks for sharing.

    Jars! I just weeded my jars, but maybe I’ll put them back on my shelf.
    I saw somewhere to put an old biscuit cutter over a jar, so cute. Sharon

  7. Gay says:

    I grew up in the Northeast, but live in California now. Your pictures took me back to the small town I lived in-so many beautiful memories! Thank you!

  8. diana says:

    I fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard over 30 years ago….coincidentally this same time i first heard James Taylor sing…..
    My dream is to visit the island again….this time in winter………..

    • sbranch says:

      He is the voice of the island, that’s what I think. There is nothing like driving around in a snowstorm on the Vineyard listening to James Taylor sing!

  9. Debbie Snyder says:

    Hi Susan: My sisters and I took our mom to MV last summer for her 80th birthday. It was the 1st time for all of us, and we LOVED IT!!! We are already talking about coming back. We visited the first week of OCT., so the season was over but the weather was still mild. I think we may have walked past your house! It looks mighty familiar! What a lovely home you have. You are truly blessed, blessed, blessed!!!

  10. Cathie Donahay says:

    Been shivering after looking at those winter beauty photos while it is 104 degrees here in St. Louis. Thank you thank you for keeping me cool. Looking forward to those heavy snow and warm fire. All I have to do is wait in few months so I can be in heaven. Thanks, Susan for great pics of winter wonderland. God bless. 🙂

  11. Maureen MacKenzie says:

    Good Morning Susan! I know it’s summer, but I just had to take a sneak peak at winter and snow. It’s too early to call my friends, but I know you’re up. 🙂 Don’t worry I’ll enjoy the rest of the summer and my favorite…autumn. Have a wonderful day. Reenie

  12. Stephanie S says:

    Dear Susan,

    Just found your website yesterday. I am a New England girl living in the sticky heat of Florida- your photos and website are beautiful. I appreciate all of your talent- these photos almost bring a tear to my eye because I miss it so much. For now, I will look at your photos and dream. Thank you 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      It’s wonderful that now you don’t have to miss it completely … so many places on the web to go for a snowstorm if you feel the need for it!

  13. Janet from MI says:

    It is Oct 19, 2012 and I am missing Winter something bad. I am so glad that you have these pictures on here to look at and dream about. As you can tell I am a cold weather Fall/Winter person, not really a summer one. Have A Great Day !!

  14. Lisa Muncy says:

    Hi, Susan!
    It’s Oct. 21st, soon Halloween will be here! Looking at the beautiful winter photos on the island made me look forward to winter here in our mountains in West Virginia. I love our billions of colorful leaves in Autumn, as we have now, but also looking forward to having snow. Last winter was so mild we only had ONE snowfall! I hope we have more this year! I love our secluded, country life. So many mountains, so many woods to walk in! Yet, I’ve always wanted to visit the New England states, and if I do, your lovely island will be on my list to visit! I can go to Salem first, (and see the museums) then travel there, to the island. Maybe this is the dream trip I can tell my husband I want for my 50th birthday. . .I don’t mind waiting 4 years, the island will still be just as lovely!! There are so many things there I want to see, and it’s all because you showed me how lovely and enjoyable they are! Thank you for your pictures and blog, it’s such and enjoyable part of my day to sit down and visit you and the island! I’m also an early riser (but, no, not 4:30am!) and enjoy a cup of tea during the beauty of an early country morning. Love the fresh air, too, no matter what season it is! My kitties (Midnight, Twinkie, and Jynx) want to say HI to Girl Kitty and Jack! Have a great day!!

  15. Diane West says:

    Thank you for sharing your ‘world’ with us, I’ve enjoyed the journey through the snow laden streets, past the charming old world homes. You’re like an ‘ole friend, and am enjoying the ride. <3

  16. Christine Howard says:

    I loved looking at this photos of snow in your own ‘backyard’. I live in Brisbane, Australia and it is just starting to feel like Christmas as we have had our first 30+ degree (celsius) days this week. I am starting to decide on Christmas Day celebration on the beach, park or our back deck lunching on cold meats, salads and favourite ice cream pudding. Finishing the day all lying around in our shorts and thongs (literally) talking and laughing. Cx

    • sbranch says:

      That’s how I used to spend Christmas in California! Swimming!

      • Christine Howard says:

        I would so love to have a white Christmas but often wonder if it would actually FEEL like Christmas at all. It is great that you have had the joy of experiencing both 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Once I went to Acapulco for Christmas … I lived in California at the time. It was so HOT, 95 degrees on Christmas Eve NIGHT — felt so wrong! That’s when I discovered “going to the snow” if we’re going anywhere!

  17. Catherine says:

    I went to school for six years in Conneticut, then went to Wellselly for six more! I was homesick at Porter’s, college was better. Today was 55 degrees out. Give me the snow anyday! Someone at the grocery store said, “How can you stand going out in it”. That’s just the point, I don’t leave the house. When I am in Brewster, I do. However the people here are mind- boggling. Two more years until I am up at the Cape for good. Can’t wait. Thanks for the lovely pictures. best of luck in 2013.

  18. Julia says:

    Please don’t ever take Island Snowstorm off. I also live on an island but I
    am in the Southland, so alas, no snow!!!!!! I must look to you. It is just
    beautiful. We just have rain today. Thanks a bunch! But I have banana
    breads in the oven, a cup of tea in hand and I’m pretending!

  19. Julia says:

    I added it to my favorites!!!!!!! I’m a newbie at this computer stuff.
    I couldn’t bear the thought of losing it! Thanks!

  20. Mary Pat says:

    Just browsing your site while enjoying a cup of tea with my better half! Your snow picture-story is wonderful! We have a good bit of snow here, but seeing the island all blanketed is a feast for my eyes! Thank you for such pleasant moments.

  21. jennifer Reeder says:

    Too see such beauty its a blessing.
    I shall dream of it tonight,
    Thank you
    It really exist.
    In the spring photos I see or imagine Benjamin Bunny,Squirrel Nutkin and dear Beatrix Potter writing about Peter and Benjamin , near the little garden.
    The light pale blues ,yellows and Green send me back to when I was a child.
    how lucky I am to find such a blog! ! !

  22. Lynn Jones says:

    What a wonderful wonder to wake up to. I live in Tennessee, North of Nashville, and I am wishing for some white wonder down our way. Your home is so cozy, and I love your stove. Keep warm and thank you for sharing all of your daily adventures with all of us. God Bless.

  23. Cheryl Rooney says:

    Love Love Love your photos and the words you put with them! You have such a gift and way of taking me back on a nostalgia walk!

  24. Sharon B. says:

    While my friends head south for winter, I enjoy winter with all its beauty– the cold
    the snow, snuggling in after shoveling.
    I love love love winter!
    Thank you for the beautiful photos!

  25. Paula Kirner says:

    Oh how I miss the winters. Such lovely pictures and someday I hope to visit there. The fall and winter was always my favorite time of the year – picture perfect in everyway. Thank you Susan for sharing such beauty!

  26. Pigeon's Mom says:

    Just missing New England and poking around. Pigeon loved the lighthouse, the little turquoise boat, and the ferry video!

  27. Connie Sue says:

    Oh, you live in heaven on earth!

  28. Annette McD says:

    I watched the movie, I Know Where I’m Going. It was wonderful. Did you happen to notice in the credits that Petula Clark was in it also; she played Cheril. I thought she was just a singer that happened to be in To Sir, With Love. I was very wrong, she has been acting since she was 11 years old , check out her filmography some time. Thanks for the recommendation; I enjoyed the movie very much.

  29. Kathie Burton says:

    thank you Susan, for your wonderful blog. You are one of life’s angels who reminds us of the lovely little miracles all around us. Happy New Year! KB

  30. Ruth says:

    Now I know that we must be girl friends deep in our hearts – I have never met anyone who knows of that lovely Wendy Hiller movie, “I Know Where I’m Going.”
    What a gem it is!

  31. SusanB says:

    Right now in Illinois we are in the middle of a huge winter storm! Winter is such a cozy, magical time of year. My backyard looks beautiful just like yours! The kids are all giddy because school has been cancelled for the next 2 days, extending their Chrismas break. We spent the day shoveling the snow and baking delicious pumpkin bread. Snow storm Ion, they name them now, is a beautiful artist just like you! Next, comes the cold to blanket our area for the next 48 hours. Brrrrr! The heat is turned up, and your cookbooks are waiting on the coffee table for some cozy winter reading.

  32. SusanB says:

    Oh, and Downton Abbey season 4 just minutes away!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Mary Boyer says:

    Love, love, love, love, love,……..ok, I think you get my point…….snow! It’s one of my “favoritest” things on this planet!

  34. Sue Cimmino says:

    I found your site by accident when I put a search for sonw pictures on the Vineyard. I love your pictures and have been coming to the Vineyard since 1953 and have on ocassion been called a Vineyard fanatic due to to my home filled with photos, framed art, my scrimshaw jewelry done by Tom DeMont who was like my brother, to the many cups, nic nacks and assorted tshirts, sweatshirts and jacketsI own. I especially love your work because you show the Vineyard I grew up on, not the usualy tourist places, but the back street, side roads and out of the way places that we all treasure. I now have you book marked and have sent the link to my kids who are just a fanitical as I am.

  35. D'Anne Paratore says:

    Beautiful – here in upstate NY (Adirondacks) we are buried, only transportation are snowmobiles, snowshoes, and cross country skies. My cats also are sitting by the fire, they will not look out the windows – one even sleeps with her knitted booties on – how long are your winters

  36. Dana says:

    Susan, I just found this site while looking for some info on Gladys. I was on the phone with my mother at the time and we wanted to know when Gladys died, and here you are with a whole page devoted to her and the Friends of Gladys! We love her … it’s an inherited thing here as my mother passed her on to me and I proceeded to collect all the books and spend one entire summer reading them all. Anyway, I’m delighted to have found you and thoroughly enjoy your snow scenes. I plan to be a regular visitor to your pages. Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      More than almost anyone I’ve ever heard of, Gladys is an inherited thing, love for her that’s passed down in families. Which makes her all the more wonderful to me.

  37. Linda G. says:

    Susan: do you know what a FitBit is? It’s a new gizmo that you wear on your wrist, made of rubber and it (somehow!) is able to track how many steps you’ve walked each day; your heart rate, etc. These items are the rage for folks who are trying to live a healthier life. BUT….the downside is they come with really unattractive rubber wrist bands. As I looked through Amazon I thought….wouldn’t it be great if Susan Branch designed a couple of these FitBit bands and sold them! They would be instant hits! Just saying…’s an idea! Just for fun….go on the internet and search for FitBit Flex…..

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, and also those wrist bands for seasickness which are battleship grey elastic! Not good for dress-up nights on the ship! 🙂

  38. Suzette Shoulders says:

    We lived for 30 years in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and snow was an unusual occurrence… then moved to central Oregon, where it is MUCH more common, although not the past 4 years. This year, the snow came on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and did NOT let up for 24 hours. We loved watching it, but did fret a bit about our family driving here from Seattle and Portland. All arrived safely, if a bit frazzled, and we had a good holiday, with the little boys happily playing outside in 16 degrees, jumping into the 13-14″ of snow we had in town. Hot cocoa and a hot bath always seem to warm them up afterwards, I wish I had that metabolism! My husband thinks we should all celebrate Thanks-giving in August, and he may have a good idea there! Your Island Snowstorm is so enchanting! But in a town of 80,000, the traffic snarls with this much snow make for some crazy drivers. We stayed home and ate turkey soup and leftover pie, and I kept on reading different parts of your blog I hadn’t found before. Thank you for being you. I got the quilt kit I ordered from your website, SO FAST! I looked at it, but can’t play with the fabrics until the New Year. Thank you to your fairy helpers! Suzette

  39. Julie P. says:

    I return to this post all the time. I am a Colorado girl, living in Florida, and missing snow. Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful pictures. I feel like I am there!

  40. Suzanne Sanpoan says:

    You can have that Island! I’m so done with it. Too cold, too expensive,too crowded and extremely noisy. I grew up there as a child….no more piece and quiet….horrible in the summer,rude neighbors with their screaming kids, trash all over the roads, people driving too fast killing each other and the deer, hunting and murdering animals,tick problem is major scary, drug problem is horrible, no privacy, people playing loud music everywhere even in the woods where they live……….it is a beautiful place to visit for one day.

  41. Joyce Gallivan says:

    I went from your calendar to your website, thank you for your creativity, photos and descriptions, you are blessed indeed.

  42. Barb says:

    Love these winter pics!! I am sooo glad you combined your blog and Willard…it will be so much easier….the best of both worlds!!

  43. Frances Zvonek says:

    I just found your website this year (after I bought about four or five of your wonderful books! ) I love the story of your life and how you ended up with Joe! and living in Nantucket. I live in Upper, lower Michigan and our winters are as harsh as yours.( and just as beautiful) Your such an inspiration. This year I will bundle up and take more pictures.
    then curl up with some hot coffee and re-read one of our your books!

  44. Dianne Carrol says:

    Hello again Susan,
    Love your snow pictures! Is this large house a new house? Did you add on to your first little cottage house (which I adored)? If not, when did you buy your new big house? IT’s gorgeous.

    • sbranch says:

      Loooong time ago… after a couple of years with Joe, we realized Holly Oak wasn’t big enough for two! So in 1989 we found our new house. Been here for 30 years last September! xoxo

  45. Julie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I found you and your website years ago when my wife bought me your summer book on a writers trip to Boston. Like your “girlfriends” I couldn’t believe how you so beautifully love and hold dear so many of the things I do.
    This blog is over 8 years old and I JUST SAW IT! I grew up in SoCal and dreamed all my life of living in different seasons. I am now in the PNW so we do get a bit of winter a few weeks a year. These pictures are gorgeous!
    I can’t wait for Covid to be behind us. Now we dream of traveling everywhere all seasons. Hope you trip to England in May goes well!
    Thank you for sharing your gifts and joy.
    Please everyone get your vaccines. Save your lives and the lives of your loved ones.

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