West Tisbury: Talley

West Tisbury columnist Hermine Hull sits with her dog Talley. —Courtesy Hermine Hull

“This is a perfect August summer day,” said my husband as we walked along the beach with Nanuk on Sunday afternoon. It was warm, but not hot; breezy, but not windy. The sky was clear blue. There were no bugs, and for most of our walk, we were alone on the beach. We looked across the pond at the opening, which had been cut on Thursday. Lots of boats out, onlookers, and beach bathers on the other side, but we were blissfully walking alone on an empty beach on August 16.

Longtime readers of this column will notice that Mike and I were walking with Nanuk only. My darling Tallulah (Talley) died last Wednesday. It is difficult for me to understand how a dog with the most perfect heart ever could have developed a heart condition that would bring her life to an end. She had turned 14 on June 2, still looked slender and puppyish, still spent her every moment by my side (or by my feet.) We were constant companions, in love at first sight from the moment I saw her at the Animal Shelter in Edgartown, sitting primly by the door waiting for me. She was wearing a red collar with little white bones printed on it. She was the most beautiful, most perfect puppy ever.

I have asked permission from my friend, Brooks Robards, to print the poem Brooks wrote after our first beach walk together, the beginning of our now 13-year friendship. I always remember how long we have been friends because Talley was 1 in the poem. Here it is.




The color of sand

she races down the beach

past Lillian’s shack

romps in the surf

even rides waves

then turns toward land

and rolls to salve
her salty back.


All the while

we walk and talk

friends and Talley

the high-spirited

one-year-old dog.


She brings us

what we might

miss — a starfish

a seal carcass

rotting behind
driftwood clumps

with white jawbone

and teeth intact

near the pall

of brown fur.


Gamboling Talley
scatters a clutch of gulls

into the water

then chases a tern

flying low enough to catch

at a leap that lands her

higher up in the dunes instead

soaring supple as a deer.


She is our joy embodied

our freedom unleashed

we who walk by the water.


I am grateful to have this poem to read and Sandy Turner’s painting of Talley to look at. Lots of my own drawings and paintings and photographs. Not the real dog, but something.

Talley is buried under a dogwood tree in our backyard. Mike made a marker for her, “Sweetness,” the name I always called her. I will plant ‘Sweetness’ daffodils on her grave this fall, and have already put in some ‘Frances Williams’ hostas, my favorite, to hide the browning daffodil foliage. I saw a picture that stayed in my memory of a dogwood tree underplanted with ‘Frances Williams’ hostas. A pretty combination. Mike’s Aunt Janice had given me a creeping veronica that blooms with blue flowers in early spring. It has flourished and spread on Cala’s and Porter’s graves nearby, so I expect it will spread along over Tallulah’s, too. And I will get an Adirondack chair to put by her grave, so we can still have our coffee together in the mornings. She will still be at my feet, as she always was, though I will have to learn how to do everything over again — how to paint, how to read, how to walk — without her with me. For 14 years, two months, and one week, she was my perfect companion. She will remain so in my heart forever.

Mike and I had met Sandy and Jim Turner for breakfast at the airport Sunday morning. Jim was resplendent in his croquet whites, as he was playing the last game in a tournament in Edgartown after we finished eating. I asked Sandy to let me know how it turned out, and here is the story she sent:

“The Edgartown Croquet Club held its first annual Edie Blake High-Low Tournament over the weekend. Edie, a founding member of the club 20 years ago, was named to the ECC Hall of Fame at a party graciously hosted by Lucky Hank’s and Linda Shaw of Oak Bluffs. During play, Edie and her partner, Jim Turner of West Tisbury, went undefeated in their tournament win. There was a second-place tie between Susie Herr, formerly of Lambert’s Cove, and her teammate, Deborah Burress of Vineyard Haven, and Jack Shott of East Chop and his 12-year-old grandson, Charlie Ortmans of Arlington, Va., in his first tournament. Charlie stole the show with his competent and sometimes fearless shooting. It was great to watch.”

August 18 will be Iyla Grace Bohan’s first birthday, and we are all planning for good weather for the occasion. It will also be Iyla’s first fair. Her uncle, Phil DaRosa, will be performing with his band, so everyone is planning to meet to hear Phil, then have dinner at the fair and show Iyla the sights. Birthday cake at her parents’ house afterward. Stephanie DaRosa and James Bohan, you have a darling daughter, who has brought much joy to all around her. It has been a wonderful first year, and I wish for many more happy birthdays ahead. “Ta da,” as Iyla would say.

Happy birthday wishes for another upcoming celebrant, Marguerite McDonough, who will turn 100 next Thursday, August 24. Marguerite’s daughter, Maureen Fischer, has planned a family dinner at Isola on the actual day. There will also be a party earlier in the week at Havenside, where Marguerite lives. Wishing you the happiest day, Marguerite.

A relatively quiet week at the library. There will be a special story Drag Queen Storytime on Saturday morning at 10:30 am. Reina del Taco will read some of her favorite books about embracing our diversity, our differences, and all that makes each one of us our special selves. Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop will begin at 11:30 am on Monday, August 21. At 1 pm, Jane Paquet has lots of eclipse activities for kids planned, as live-streaming of the solar eclipse will be shown. Paul Levy, the Mac Pro, will be on hand Tuesday and Friday mornings from 10 am to noon. Harpist Natalie Lurie will perform a classical concert at 5 pm on Wednesday, August 23. At 5 pm next Thursday, psychic and medium Constance Messmer will talk about developing your intuitive compass.

I look forward to beautiful weather for the Ag Fair this weekend, and look forward to seeing all the exhibits and probably everyone I know on the Island. It’s always a treat to stroll around and see so many folks whom otherwise we rarely run into. I suspect some of us might see President Obama and his family, who are on vacation here, and always attend the fair. I hope they and all of us have a wonderful time.