Town Column : Chilmark
Remember when streams of young people invaded the Island in the 1970s announcing that they were going to "live off the land?" Idealists who had opted out of what they saw as "the rat race," they were serious in their efforts to embrace a simpler life through agriculture. None of this was exactly a new idea to the Island families who had been living off the land, and the sea, for generations. Some of the young people stayed, others left, but the ideas and the ideals had found, if not the promised land, hospitable folk who took them to their hearts, and in some cases, provided them with tents and other rent-free accommodations. Today, with much of the world in conflict and apparently out of control, the principles and practices are once again sweeping the Island, this time from the inside.
Greasy junk food is out. Fresh vegetables and other Island-grown produce are in. Thinking green has become second nature and so has energy-saving. Priorities are shifting, and it looks as though we're headed for change, no matter who is elected president. And, lo!, some have discovered that there are goals other than amassing huge quantities of money. Or, as one disillusioned young woman declared recently, "Money ain't all it's cracked up to be." Still, there's nothing wrong with making some money, and if it's possible to do so by growing good things to eat, so much the better.
All of which is by way of preamble to a couple of programs coming up at the library. First, the Sustainable Book Club, the Island-wide discussion group, will take on Ann Pancake's "Strange as the Weather Has Been," on Thursday, April 24, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, at the Chilmark Library - so start reading now. The club is sponsored by Island-Grown Initiative, The Martha's Vineyard Library Association, Felix Neck Sanctuary, the Vineyard Conservation Society, and the Bunch of Grapes bookstore. It meets monthly at different places on the Island.
And next Thursday, April 17, at 5 pm the Friends of the Library will present a talk "Introduction to Permaculture: Practical Sustainability" by Dick Pierce, who has long been a practitioner and designer of sustainable agriculture and sustainable living in general. He will talk about organic food gardens, alternative energy and other topics designed to persuade us all to live in harmony with nature and to use natural resources to their fullest potential.
There is no admission charge, and everyone is welcome.
And for a look at how to get fancy with locally available foods, watch executive chef James McDonough demonstrate how to make salmon cakes with frangelico cream sauce this Wednesday, April 16, 5:30 to 6:30 at the library. Mr. McDonough has resided over the kitchens at the Beach Plum Inn for a dozen years and has shared some of his cooking secrets with library patrons on numerous occasions, usually providing tasting samples. He has been awarded best-in-show in several local publications, and was the subject of a feature in The New York Times last summer. The Friends of the Library sponsor the chef's series, and there is no admission charge. Everyone is welcome.
The big news at the school this month is that the first round of MCAS testing is over, and students can take a deep breath and focus on regular studies. Elizabeth Straton's Spanish class will show the Spanish-English picture dictionaries they have made at Spanish Night next Wednesday, April 16, from 6 to 7 pm.
And on the 17th, the whole school will go to Falmouth for lessons in candlepin bowling, including how to keep score.
The school curriculum continues to focus on the environment whenever pertinent, and the K/1 students will visit Eleanor Neubert's Flat Point Farm to inspect the newborn lambs, while 2/3 students keep stoking their recycling projects and researching new paths to greater energy efficiency.
The older students are honing their skills at the May Pole Dance with the help of Lee Fierro. They will perform for townsfolk as usual on May 1.
Remember that the PTO's Italian Night dinner date has been changed to May 3, a Saturday.
And April 18 is the last day to sign up for kindergarten next year. To enroll, call administrative secretary Orlaith Estes at the school, 508-645-2562, Ext. 10.
Orientation night for parents of next year's kindergarten class will be Wednesday, April 30, 6:30 to 7:30.