West Tisbury: Weekend reward

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We have finally had a few sunny days, one after another, gradually warming us and the earth. All the daffodils along the roadsides are giving a positively springlike appearance. As usual in New England, the weather has been the hot topic of conversation around town, that after such a prolonged, cool, rainy April, maybe we are finally being rewarded for our patience. Whatever the reason, it’s just grand.

When Talley died, Mike refurbished and repainted the Adirondack chair that was falling apart out in our backyard. I loved that chair, my favorite place for coffee and a good read once the weather is pleasant. I have even been known to sit out there wrapped in a blanket on a less than pleasant day. I guess it’s the place where the chair sits, near our pet graveyard, with Kailey, our first golden, to my right, Cala, my black Lab, back and to the left. Porter, Grace, Rocket, Everett, and Dwight, all kitties, are on either side of a dogwood tree. Beneath the tree by my feet, where she always was these past 14 years, lay my beloved Talley. We are all protected from the worst of the wind by the rhododendron hedge that spans the southern edge of our property. With my chair nestled between the thick bushes, it’s a lovely place to sit, and now my chair is so solid, freshly painted the prettiest sky blue.

Over the years this spot has been the focus of much of my gardening. I wanted it to feel rustic, a woodland garden. The rhododendrons, planted as a screen in the earliest years of our residence, have grown huge and full. Underneath are all sorts of groundcovers: myrtle, ajuga, epimediums, violets, veronica, trillium, hostas, and all manner of spring bulbs.

Before you think it’s perfectly manicured, it isn’t. Some things have gotten overgrown, or rambled to wild. So I have signed up for a pruning class at the Polly Hill Arboretum. It is on Thursday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm. My husband laughed when I told him. He loves to prune, to bend nature to his will, unfortunately more radical and geometric than artful. So for my own sanity, I’m going to take the class. At least one of us will know how to do it properly. I especially want to know how to severely prune to rejuvenate lilacs and some of the oldest rhododendrons that have broken over the past winter. If you are interested, call the arboretum to register: 508-693-4395.

I was there last week to interview Erin Hepfner, who is leaving to join the Longwood Fellows Program at Longwood Gardens, then to attend her going-away party last Friday. What a great party. It was held in the Far Barn, where long tables were set up for the guests, a collection of PHA staff, volunteers, and friends, all gathered to wish Erin well. All the tables were decorated with gorgeous floral arrangements, mostly assembled from whatever was blooming on the arboretum grounds. Everyone had been asked to bring a dessert, and the desserts were suitably splendid. A still-warm-from-the-oven peach and berry pie, three different kinds of brownies, a chocolate ganache pie topped with raspberries, lemon cake, a rhubarb custard confection, strawberries dipped in chocolate or topping cupcakes, a blueberry–cream cheese cake. I apologize for ones I haven’t mentioned. I’ll just say it was all fabulous, as was the lunch from Rosewater. I think Erin was well and suitably sent off.

It’s been good to get out a bit, and as at the other events I have attended recently, I am enjoying catching up with friends. Tim Boland gave a laudatory and humorous speech — short. Nancy Weaver, Nancy Rogers, Linda Hearn, Ann, David, and Libby Fielder, Judy Bryant, Gary and Dinny Montrowl, Ann Quigley. Again, I can’t remember everyone.

Notable was my visit with Karin Stanley, who lives across the street from us, although we laugh about waving at each other in our cars or seeing each other out at occasions like this one. She is back at the arboretum, going through Polly’s letters and papers. She is doing the same job for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. We both wondered what there will be for historians and writers, even families, to find in the future. Most people communicate by email. There won’t be handwritten letters on carefully chosen writing paper or plain pads, notes, drawings, all so personal and by a human hand, a feeling of the human spirit behind them. Our generation, many of us anyway, has love letters and birthday cards, notes written on joyous and sad occasions, poems, and marginalia. Maybe they are stuffed in a box or a bag in a closet, but they are there to find. “Ephemera,” they are called at antique or paper and print shows.

My other outing was to church Sunday morning to hear the Rev. Cathlin Baker and members of the congregation speak about their trip to Atlanta. The room was filled and the sun poured in. Pastor Baker told us about members of the West Tisbury Church and the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, who planned and took the trip together. They arrived last Friday in time for Shabbat services at the Temple, the synagogue that partners with the Ebenezer Baptist Church. The rest of the weekend was spent in a flurry of activities that included working in a community garden with church members, the King Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, the Center For Civil and Human Rights, the Egyptian Collection at Emory University, and Morehouse College. Pastor Baker delivered the Sunday morning sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, “The Blessing of Unity,” a condensation of which she gave us here yesterday morning. I understand that the group were treated “like celebrities,” a quote from Eirene Eville, and were seated right behind the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family at the Sunday morning service.

I had tried to reach Rabbi Broitman to hear about the Hebrew Center’s perspective on the trip, but was unable to speak with her before sending this off. I am grateful that our religious groups partner in so many ways. I have often thought that if Cathlin Baker and Caryn Broitman could take charge, they could sort out our country’s problems in no time. Maybe even the world’s. They are two exceptional women and leaders. Glad for them that they are good friends, too.

It was also Earth Day on Sunday. At church I saw Susie Bowman wearing an original PYE (Preserve Your Environment) button from the first Earth Day in 1970. The design was green for land, blue for water, on a yellow ground that represented air. It brought back a lot of memories.

As did an article in Sunday’s New York Times, a reminder of why Earth Day came about. Remember Love Canal? The Santa Barbara oil spill? Boston Harbor? The Cuyahoga River Fire? Smog? The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the bipartisan efforts to create the Environmental Protection Agency all contributed to water we can drink and fish in (actually see in), air we can breathe, regulations for disposal of runoff and manufacturing’s toxic waste, for specifications to reduce the risk of oil spills, etc. Pain that some regulations are, they seem to be necessary to ensure that our environment is protected. Our one Earth is all we’ve got.

The Women’s Symposium will meet at the Chilmark Community Center this Saturday, April 28, from 9 am to noon. The topic is “Assumptions.” The meeting is free, but donations are welcome.

Condolences to Jeff Banfield, Jim, Liz, and Jessica Branch, for the loss of Kelley (Branch) Banfield, who died on April 18 at her home in Aberdeen, N.C.

The Neighborhood Convention will meet on Tuesday, May 1, 11 am, at Saint Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven. The guest speaker will be Kevin Ryan, artistic director of Island Theater Workshop, which is celebrating its 50th year.

At the West Tisbury Library:

Friday, April 27, 3:30 pm, Dumbledore’s Army meeting for ages 10 to 17.

Sunday, April 29, 3:30 pm, a concert with pop vocalist and pianist Jared Salvatore.

Monday, April 30, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop. At 5:30 pm, a free workshop, “Your Business Financial Checkup.” Speakers are India Rose and Erin Muldoon.

Wednesday, May 2, 5 pm, first class of a five-week series of intermediate guitar lessons with Andy Herr.

Tucker Hubbell rescued and saved some of Linda Carnegie’s original mural from the basement Children’s Room before the renovation. He has just reinstalled it in our Children’s Room, for all to visit and enjoy. The library staff invites everyone to do so.

Get outside to enjoy this sunshine while we have it. The weather report calls for rain by the end of the week.