If you are in your 20s, living full-time on Martha’s Vineyard, as opposed to, say, Boston, Brooklyn, LA, or abroad, chances are you’ve been asked, “What do you do all winter?” Or — slightly more intrusively, but more to the point — maybe the question is “Why?”
There are, after all, no nightclubs (though many would love to see Nectar’s open year-round), no bowling alleys (there should be), and in general not a whole lot to do that doesn’t require a bit of self-motivation.
As for those pesky questions, I tracked down some answers. Twenty-somethings on Martha’s Vineyard are working, teaching, building, surfing (yes, even now), playing pond hockey, searching for arrowheads, scouting the thrift stores, reading, writing, studying, meditating, traveling, hiking, and dancing their way through winter.
Some named unsteady work as the most difficult part of residing here year-round, while time to unwind was the biggest reported perk.
Dark, cozy establishments like The Newes, Park Corner, and Offshore Ale are a few winter favorites. Dining out has a lot of appeal this time of year too, with restaurants offering specials and deals as incentive to get out of the house.
Alexandra Bullen, a writer living in Chilmark, lists State Road’s Thursday Burger Night among her favorites. But for the most part, she enjoys being at home, cooking and hanging out with friends,
“I couldn’t fry an egg when I moved here,” says Ms. Bullen.
By putting her downtime to good use (in between writing young adult novels “Wish” and “Wishful Thinking”), and mastering Thai recipes like Ma-Ma Ki Mow, she is now the frequent host of dinner parties and game nights. She credits her Slow Cooker for “revolutionizing dinner in our house.”
Jen Guercio and Chelsie Saragoza moved here with a goal — the Pilates Teacher Training program at Vineyard Pilates in Vineyard Haven. In addition to many hours spent at the Pilates studio, Ms. Saragoza waitresses at Sharky’s. When she has a night off, rather than hit the town, she prefers to hang out with friends at home.
While Ms. Saragoza finds the winter peaceful and enjoys the extra time off, Ms Guercio is slightly less sure of all that downtime. This is her third winter, and she doesn’t think she’ll spend another one here.
Finding steady work in the winter has been challenging. At times, Ms. Guercio misses the freedom of coming and going as she pleases, without having to match her travel schedule to that of the ferry. Nevertheless, she finds solace and fun in friends and roommates. “It’s nice always having someone around,” she says.
Heidi Fournier, one of those roommates, is a manager at Season’s Pub in Oak Bluffs. Ms. Fournier sees firsthand what some Islanders are doing for fun when they’re not hunkering down at home. Seasons offers karaoke night, live music and DJ’s weekly throughout the winter, drawing a crowd looking for a little stimulus. Ms. Fournier thinks that “life can be routine wherever you are,” and stays busy with pottery classes at Featherstone, Hot Yoga, and catching up with friends who she doesn’t get a chance to see during the hectic summer months. She also takes advantage of being able to park in Edgartown, venturing there for dinner or a movie, something she would rarely attempt in the summer.
Chris Menne is a preschool teacher at the Island Children’s School by day and server at the Offshore Ale at night.
“I like the hometown crowd feeling at the Offshore” he says. He might actually prefer the winter bar scene. I feel out-of-place in Edgartown in the summer,” he quips, but now he will go where he pleases. Even to the Wharf.
At home, Mr. Menne enjoys poker, competitive ping-pong, and Wii (a video game system by Nintendo). Come spring, Mr. Menne will be ready for outdoor sports like golf and baseball, but for now the video game versions will suffice.
Max Aberg returned home to the Vineyard in October for the first time since high school, almost ten years ago. He admits to being tempted by islands that are more tropical in climate, but he is reveling in what he calls “hibernation mode” for now. Mr. Aberg is helping Chris Fischer build a greenhouse at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark, where they plan to grow leafy greens year-round. You will also find Mr. Aberg in the very early morning (6-7 am) at the Chilmark Community Center practicing Ashtanga yoga. As a vegan, Mr. Aberg says that dining out can be awkward for him. He prefers to eat at home, though he does venture to the Park Corner Bistro or Offshore Ale on occasion. See Max on video at mvtimes.com.
Tristan Lodge of Oak Bluffs is also a young Island yoga enthusiast. He recently completed yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires. He currently teaches on Thursday nights at the Yoga Barn (his class is $10 for students 25 years old and younger). Mr. Lodge is “not much of a bar guy,” but he does enjoy the Thai food at the Ritz, “especially the curry.”
Living in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Lodge makes an effort to go up-Island and check out the beaches that he wouldn’t be allowed to visit come summer. With enough layers, just about every day can be a beach day. The Land Bank trails are gloriously empty and peaceful this time of year. Getting outside and reacquainted with what the Island offers can be a nice reminder of why we live here, even in the winter.
Life is what you make of it, according to Mr. Lodge. You can accept the monotony of January, February, and March, or use the time to be introspective and pursue passions.
“It’s a misnomer that there is nothing going on here. You can live in Brooklyn and sit at home all day too,” Mr. Lodge says.