Town Column : West Tisbury
The roofs were white with frost this morning. By the time I came downstairs, it was almost 40 degrees and the pots of colored pansies I have placed around the yard were bright with yellow, lavender, purple, and blue flowers, a cheerful sight. The first daffodils have opened along south-facing walls at Kernick's and the police station, and Linda Hearn reported seeing goldfinches approaching their summer color. There are kids fishing on the Mill Pond late into the days. A pair of swans has appeared, heads down, hopefully eating the intruding marsh grass.
I was looking through old town reports yesterday and came across some pictures from 1949 and 1950, when the overgrown Mill Pond was cleared out by a group of volunteers. The Grange sponsored the project. I was shocked to see the pond completely covered. The banks were lined with men and women pulling ropes attached to dredges, and finally a pair of swans, newly purchased, to maintain the pond's pristine state. The photographs appeared in the 1995 town report.
My friend Leslie Baker just returned from a short trip to Florida. She flew down last Sunday to drive home with her daughter, Emma, who had spent the winter working with Beach Bennett's horses. The horses headed north in trailers and the barn crew had to arrive in time to meet them in Chilmark. Leslie and Emma made the trip in two days, but it was Leslie's descriptions of the colors in the landscape that captivated my imagination.
Driving through North and South Carolina and Virginia, she described fields of red clover, chartreuse green foliage a counterpoint. Vines covered with yellow flowers draped the still-gray trees. White flowering dogwoods and lavender redbuds made veils of color in the hedgerows, and median strips along the highways were planted with blooming wildflowers. It reminded me of Leslie's paintings, the descriptions as vivid and mysterious as the layers of colors she applies, shafts of light through woods and fields. She said she kept wishing I was there and we were able to stop to paint. I wish I could have seen it, too. I have dreamed of making that trip some winter when it's still cold here, to paint the early spring along coloring roadsides. Wolf Kahn, one of my favorite landscape painters, does just that, and has written about his painting trips in a wonderful book, "Wolf Kahn's America."
Closer to home, our Annual Town Meeting begins at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 8, at the West Tisbury School. Town elections will be held at the Public Safety Building on Thursday, April 10, noon to 8 pm. Absentee ballots will be available for walk-ins at the Town Hall until noon on April 9. Town Clerk Prudy Whiting is at her desk Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. Don't forget to vote.
A phenomenal effort by the library staff and volunteers has completed the book-and-shelf-moving project in record time, allowing the downstairs room to reopen to the public at the beginning of this week. Nelia Decker and Linda Hughes reconfigured the layout. It seemed that as quickly as Nelia and Beth Kramer took books off the shelves, Mike Hull and Jesse Oliver were right behind them, taking shelves down, rearranging them or replacing them completely with newly donated shelving from the Falmouth Library. The books went back up as quickly. Lights burned late into the night the past two weeks. Chris Decker brought dinner. It was a huge effort, and I hope everyone will be pleased at how many more books we were able to fit into the downstairs stacks, and how much airier and better organized the former "Reference Room" has become. Upstairs are art, crafts, travel, and gardening books. Reference and oversized materials have moved downstairs with fiction and non-fiction.
Linda Thompson is exhibiting a selection of plein air landscapes at the West Tisbury Library through the month of April. They are mainly painted in early morning or at the end of the day, so the shadows and light patterns are strong and atmospheric. The scenes will be familiar to everyone: Owen Park, the Allen sheep farm, Squibnocket beach, among others.
Paula Black has asked that anyone with spare paper bags and sturdy boxes with lids please drop them off at the library. We always need them for the book sale. Thanks.
Shanti Blum was looking very happy when I saw her last week. She was enjoying a visit from her daughter, Leslie, and grandchildren, Mason and Sidne Hecht, here for spring break. They had all been skiing, then visiting with cousins in Boston, before returning to Music Street with "Grandma." They were choosing books and DVD's at the library, then heading to Vineyard Haven to The Toy Box for birthday presents. Both children have March birthdays. Mason had already had his party, where all the boys dressed up as pirates. They were even paid a visit by a famous (or infamous) pirate, Jack Sparrow himself. Sidne received a pink bouquet of roses, daisies, and tulips on her March 23 birthday, and has planned a sleepover party with twelve friends when she returns home.
My husband cannot understand why I always wait till the last minute to start my taxes. I begin sorting papers and filling in forms every year at the beginning of baseball season. There are afternoon games galore, one after the other beginning at 1 pm and lasting into the night. With all the other things to be done outside at this time of year, who could take time to sit in front of the television watching baseball for hours at a time? You can assume that I have an excellent view of the TV, and we have a drop-leaf table on which I can spread out all my paperwork. After all, I have to finish doing my taxes.