Another week of perfect weather. Fall is slowly and gratifyingly unfolding. There is a bit more sky and a bit more light in our woods. The rhododendron hedge is heavily budded up. Leaves are beginning to fall and crackle underfoot. Asters and goldenrods are blooming, chrysanthemums and dahlias are at their most splendid.
I haven't made jam in years, but when I did, the most satisfying was autumn olive. They are everywhere and free, which appealed greatly. Still does.
We have chopped down most of the autumn olives we eagerly planted 30 years ago. Then they seemed like something fast-growing and local, appealing to new young gardeners who wanted to make their houses and sand-to-be-lawns look established, and before we knew they would soon overtake the house and sprout unbidden everywhere. Despite their ubiquity and vigor, it always gave me a feeling of satisfaction to step out the door to gather bucketloads of berries every fall and turn them into tasty jars of jam. Jelly, actually, as it was strained. I grated orange peel on top. It was so pretty and delicious and made good Christmas presents. Now everyone seems to have given up sugar, so making jam is no longer the imperative it once was. Still, I think of it as a long-ago marker of the changing season.
The beginning of the school year is another one. ACE MV has planned their course sampling the evening of October 1 at the MVRHS cafeteria from 5 to 6:30. Among the new offerings is a partnership with SCORE, a nonprofit business mentoring service that will offer a workshop for small businesses. There will also be other business-related courses. Check out these and other possibilities at acemv.org and at the course sampling.
If you are looking for something more athletic, rugby might be the game for you. "No experience necessary, just come," is the invitation to play men's rugby on Thursday evenings at the West Tisbury School. Practice begins at 5:30 for the Martha's Vineyard Rugby Football Club, MVRFC.
Featherstone's Artist Studio Tour is this Saturday, September 28. West Tisbury artists participating are: paper/fiber artist Sandy Bernat, painter/printmaker Ruth Kirchmeier, tapestry weaver Julia Mitchell, and printmaker Nick Thayer. They are among 16 artists across the Island whose studios will be open between 10 am and 4 pm. Tickets are $30. To register or for more information, please call 508-693-1850.
The West Tisbury Library Foundation's Speakeasy Series continues with a program featuring Richard North Patterson who will speak about his new book, "Loss of Innocence," next Thursday, October 3. The novel is set on the Vineyard in 1968, a year Mr. Patterson describes as the year Americans lost their collective innocence, witnessing the horrors of the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Poet/journalist Laura Roosevelt will add her perspective in interview format. The program is a collaboration between the Library Foundation and the Martha's Vineyard Film Society where the event takes place. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at www.mvfilmsociety.com. Tickets are $25/$20 for Film Society members, and include light refreshments.
Mother Goose on the Loose storytimes are: today and October 3 at the Oak Bluffs Library; September 26 and October 10 at the Vineyard Haven Library, both at 10:30 am.
Jim Powell called from Orem, Utah, where he teaches at Utah Valley University, with news that his mother, Rosalie Powell, and friends, Barbara Maciel and Carolyn Spengler, have just returned from a rug-hooking conference in Rindge, New Hampshire. There were a number of classes offered in traditional rug-hooking techniques, which Rosalie described as using hand-cut strips of woven wool. "There's always something new to learn," she said. She also mentioned seeing the first red maple leaves, as the trees are beginning to change color in New Hampshire. Rosalie continues teaching mixed classes (beginners are welcome) on Wednesdays at 10 am and 7 pm. Call her for information at 508-693-1984.
Mike's aunt, Rose Terrill, died last week, the last of the Hull siblings, preceded by Dan, Judy, and Richard. They all grew up summers here, first in God's Pocket (across from New Lane,) then down the road to the Joshua Slocum House whcich the Hulls bought in the late 1920s or early 30s.
Rose was the youngest. She was beautiful and funny, never seeming to change over the years I knew her. Her hair remained blond and she definitely kept her figure. She ran every morning along the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road during her annual September visits. In San Jose, she was champion of her tennis team and bowling league right to her end in her 80s. It doesn't feel like September without Rose being here in the Slocum House. She made sure we all got together and that the Island cousins all got to know their California cousins as they arrived, in sequence, during Rose's visits. My love to them all — Dana, Julia, Margot, and Roger.
I can hear her laughter and feel her warmth. I never thought she would be gone, a denial of reality, an example of my own stupidity. We had hoped, early on in her illness, that she would come to the Island one more time. I thought if I ignored it, she wouldn't die yet. It's a foolish way of thinking I have tried over and over again. It always ends the same way, with my losing the person I loved before I could bring myself to say goodbye.