West Tisbury: Fall is here

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Walking out to my studio yesterday, I noticed dry, yellowed leaves along my way, already littering the ground. When I looked up at the tulip tree I had just passed, I saw that it had turned to fall colors, a dull yellow-brown mixed with the remaining green. The chestnut trees that leaf out earliest in spring are covered with twisted, browning spirals, sere and crackling underfoot where they have fallen. Is it early because of our dry summer? I can’t remember from one year to the next without rereading old columns or comments in my journal, but it seems so. The rhododendrons along our driveway look shriveled and thirsty. Sassafras, cherries, aronia, birches, everything.

That, and the beginning of the school year, signal the shift from summer, even though the air and the water are still summer-warm. Pencils sharpened to sticking points and new notebooks waiting to be filled with facts and fantasies. Bookbags look heavier than I remember.

The West Tisbury library will begin an Afterschool Learning Lab, meeting every weekday afternoon between 3 and 5 pm. There will be help with homework, activities, coding, “and more!” said Olivia Larsen, who sends me weekly lists of what’s happening at the library. It’s for kids ages 10 and up; 8- and 9-year-olds may attend with a mature caregiver.

Other library programs this week are:

Saturday, Sept. 8, 10:30 am to 3 pm, a family craft will be set up in the Children’s Room. Drop in to make pipe cleaner snakes. From 3:30 to 5 pm, there will be an artist’s reception for Rob Hauck, who is exhibiting his paintings through September.

Monday, Sept. 10, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky will lead her Balance Class. The Seed Saving Club will meet from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. At 7 pm, the monthly Writers Read group will meet. If you wish to read your short piece of fiction or nonfiction, please call 508 693-4307 to sign up for your eight minutes. Or just come.

Tuesday, Sept. 11, noon to 1:30 pm, there will be a Wellness Clinic with Island Healthcare nurse Lila Fischer, who will check your blood pressure and answer health-related questions.

ACE MV is beginning its fall classes. It’s offering a one-year business administration program this year. Look at that and other class listings on their website, acemv.org.

Poet Leslie Prosterman will be teaching a poetry workshop at the Chilmark library, beginning this Saturday from 2 to 4 pm. The second meeting is Sept. 22, same time and place.

The Up-Island Council on Aging still has openings for a trip to see “Miss Saigon” on Sept. 29. The cost is $140, which includes round-trip coach to Providence, lunch, orchestra seating, and all gratuities. If you are interested, call Tanya Larsen at the Howes House, 508-693-2896.

The Martha’s Vineyard Democratic Council will meet this Saturday morning, 9:30 to 11 am, at the Howes House. Guest speakers State Senator Julian Cyr and State Representative Dylan Fernandes will give a legislative update and be available for questions.

Island men are invited next Saturday, Sept. 15, to a free education session and screening for prostate cancer at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Meet in the hospital lobby at 1 pm. The event is a collaboration between AdMeTech, the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP, and the hospital.

If you get cabin fever or Island fever in the winter, here’s a possible escape. Gia Rae is organizing “an epicurean journey through Marrakech and Essaouira,” a Moroccan food and culture tour for women. The dates are Jan. 5 to 12, 2019. Like her mother, Marsha Winsryg, who runs tours of Italy for artists to benefit African charities, Gia plans to include a charitable component. And like her mother, Gia has a deep knowledge of the area and people to share with her fellow travelers. For information go to her website, info@feastwithyourhands.com.

Every week when I sit down to write this column, I have to come up with something to write about. Some weeks I have a particular idea or occurrence in mind, some weeks I go for a walk and see such lovely sights, some weeks I have noticed something in town or have run into a friend with an interesting story. Some weeks I have absolutely nothing. I just sit here staring at an empty computer screen and watch the clock hands move closer and closer to my deadline.

That was the state I found myself in this week. Then two things happened.

First I was invited to Kathy Logue’s to say goodbye to her daughter, Megan Mendenhall, who is returning to North Adams and her graduate studies at Mount Holyoke. My niece, Charlotte, had attended Mount Holyoke, and recently we had reminisced about happy times we spent there when she was a student. I was thrilled when Megan told me that the Thirsty Mind, the ultimate best coffee place ever (it had wing chairs to sit in, big windows to look out of, delicious coffee and food, and shelves filled with newspapers from all over to read at one’s leisure) is still there. So I was happy to wish Megan well, to have a last hug, and to anticipate visits and a reacquaintance with the Thirsty Mind.

Happy, also, to meet Megan and Kathy’s new 13-week-old kitten, Charlie, who immediately won my heart. Not only is he cute, he looks like a Robert Motherwell painting, one of the “Spanish Elegy” series, with black splotches artfully displayed across a pristine white expanse of fur. He’s friendly, funny, playful — all anyone would want in a kitten. He will undoubtedly grow into a handsome cat and provide me with occasional stories over the coming years.

Then an artist friend called to tell me she is moving off-Island soon, and cleaning out her studio. That prompted a long conversation about art materials, how the Vineyard has changed, how difficult it is to get rid of the too much stuff we all have, how difficult it is to manage a house and yard all by one’s aging self. We moved on to how nice it is to live in New York City and walk everywhere, the proximity to museums and art galleries and concerts, Central Park, the city at Christmas with lights and snow shoveled by someone else.

So it just goes to show. Something always comes up.