West Tisbury: An enormous patch of snowdrops


I am horrified to have just written March 1. Our peaceful, solitary winter is almost over. It’s easy to feel springlike, with the warm days and tips of green appearing. A row of chives along the path in my kitchen garden is already three or four inches high.

When I was at Ruth Kirchmeier’s last week, I was greeted by an enormous patch of snowdrops and eranthis planted to the left of her doorway, white nodding bells with narrow gray-green foliage and bright yellow flattish flowers over frilly foliage. I have to look for the tiny patch of eranthis that Ruth gave me a couple of years ago. I planted it in a similar setting, by our dining room door, where in my mind’s eye I can see the eventual enormous display that will replicate its origin, and remind me of my friend. The snowdrops are there already, some from Hallie Mentzel, some from Louise Bessire, and a few of a double-flowered variety I bought last fall.

I had never seen double snowdrops until I met Martha Fleishman, who has a planting of them under cryptomeria trees she and her husband, Jay, planted on their Chilmark property. Cryptomerias reminded them of Italy, which they both loved. Now, double snowdrops remind me of my friend, Martha, who died on Feb. 4. I have another reminder, Martha’s cat, Mona, who now lives with us. Not that I need reminders. Martha will always be with me.

There have been so many deaths this winter. I just learned about Walter Morrison, another pal from my Edgartown life, someone a couple of years younger than I am. Walter became part of our West Tisbury life, as well. He gave Mike and me a pair of dogwood trees when we got married. One pink, one white, they are planted in front of our house.

And everyone I know has been mourning Jon Harris, who clearly was a treasured friend to so many. The gathering last Saturday in his honor was truly “in his honor.” Geoff Currier has written an article about the gathering in this week’s Community section.

I have gotten off the track of my intended opening for this week’s column. Prudy Whiting called me to ask about all the work being done on Mike’s aunt, Janice Hull’s, house. She didn’t realize it had been sold, and that the work wasn’t being done by our family. A nice conversation with Prudy, lots of reminiscences about both our families, who were all great friends “back in the day” of parties and beach outings when those parents were young and our generation were children. Mike’s parents’ house has been sold, too, and the camp between their house and ours. There used to be paths through the woods we called “nature trails,” and across the meadow to the Slocum House that Mike’s cousin, Hannah Beecher, now lives in. It belonged to her and Mike’s grandparents, Daniel and Margaret Hull. Besides Everett and Jane Whiting, the Bryants, the Scannells, and the Riggs’s lived along the Edgartown Road. Olga Bryant called the stretch of family land from Janice and Dan’s to the Slocum House “Hullabaloo.” It still makes me smile and reminds me of stories about those days when everyone smoked and drank, shared impromptu dinners, raced sailboats, and sunned all day at the beach, when children and adults all seemed to run free around the neighborhood. I feel like our generation is very pale by comparison.

A great-grandson of Olga’s and “old Nelson,” as he was referred to, is Sam Bryant. I have just heard from Sam about the long-in-the-works production of his first board game, Fire Tower. I looked at his website, runawayparade.com/firetower.html. The graphics are brilliant, the game looks competitively wild to play. I can’t wait to write more about it. Sam and his friend/partner, Gwen Ruelle, are hoping to get funding for production on Kickstarter. More to come.

Another talented Island “kid” is Phil daRosa, who has just released a new song, “Faraday,” written, recorded, and mastered by him and longtime friend and collaborator, Ryan Casey, at his TPS Audio Studio in Oak Bluffs. “Faraday” and Phil’s other music are on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and other streaming services.

FYI: I have taken a few infinitesimal ticks off of Nelson (our cat — yes, he was named for our friend, the younger Nelson Bryant, war hero, naturalist, writer, and partner of Ruth) over the past couple of weeks. Time to start checking our animals daily.

I was in the library the other day and saw Steve Maxner sitting on the circulation desk. Actually, it was a facsimile of Steve Maxner, a felted wool sculpture by his wife, Joyce. It is the most fabulous thing. Make sure to take a look when you are at the library. Steve will be performing there on Saturday evening, March 10, featuring his original compositions for solo mandolin. The concert begins at 7 pm.

At the library this week:

The full schedule of winter-break activities continues through Friday, March 2. They include all-day crafts set up from 10 am to 4 pm, a soup and bread lunch served from 11:45 am to 12:45 pm, and movies for families and teens at 1 pm. Also on Friday, an interactive screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” will be shown at 1 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Tisbury Marketplace. Doors open at 12:30 pm. Attendees will receive an interactive script and goody bag. But first, the Sorting Hat. Come in costume if you like. Make sure to reserve your free ticket at mvfilmsociety.com. The program is sponsored by the West Tisbury library and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society.

Saturday, March 3, 4 to 5 pm, an artist’s reception for Tom Mullins. His exhibition, “Introspection,” will remain on view through March.

Monday, March 5, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop will meet. The Seed Saving Club will meet from 5 to 6 pm.

Tuesday, March 6, 3 pm, a Cancer and Cannabis Community Forum with Geoff Rose, Heather Thurber, Terry Kriedman, Yosef Glassman, and Sumner Silverman, for patients and caregivers to learn how to register for the use of medical marijuana and have some of your questions answered.

West Tisbury Parks and Recreation is hosting a Free Family Skate this Sunday, March 3, 1 to 2 pm, at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena. Hot chocolate will be provided. Families are asked to bring a dessert or snack to share.

The Martha’s Vineyard Neighborhood Convention will meet on Tuesday, March 6, 11 am, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown. All are welcome to attend, and reminded to bring a sack lunch.

The Martha’s Vineyard Partnership for Health is taking registration for its spring series of classes: “My Life, My Health,” “Powerful Tools For Caregivers,” and “A Matter of Balance.” Call Kathleen Samways at 508-627-5797, ext. 114, or email ksamways@ihimv.org.

The worst part of winter nearing its end is the realization, some would say acceptance, that many so-called “winter projects” are fated to remain undone for another year. I have such plans every October.

As a young woman, I watched my mother with her “system” of piling mail on her desk until the pile toppled over, at which point she would stash it in a bag, then in a box, and forget about it. Clearing out closets or cabinets was left for me to do after she died. I couldn’t stand watching it all pile up. Somehow my “systems” aren’t much better. In that regard, I have turned into my mother.

It’s still just the beginning of March. Maybe if we get a good rainy week ….