Authors Posts by Hermine Hull

Hermine Hull

Hermine Hull
Got West Tisbury news? Contact Hermine Hull here.

October has zoomed by, or blown by. This whole past week has been leaves aswirl, good for drying laundry on the line, and for pushing me inside to face a summer’s worth of chores undone. Something about this time of year makes me want to clean out and organize. Of course, intentions are not achievements, but I have already made a good start emptying out and reorganizing the cupboard in the dining room and packing up bags of books for the book sale.

The problem with cleaning is that one thing leads to another, and another, and so on, making it easy to throw up my hands in frustration, to give up altogether. Now the whole bookcase in the living room needs to be re-organized because there is nowhere to put the books I re-organized from the sunroom. My art books are overflowing their shelves in my studio.

And that’s just one job. There are still vases and platters, summer clothes and winter clothes, dog toys, cat toys, flowerpots, components of long ago projects still undone, extra blankets, cake pans shaped like Valentine hearts or Easter lambs, the enormous Thanksgiving roasting pan, way more books, and files that haven’t been looked at since the clippings were filed in the first place. Stuff. Usable and necessary when you need it, but needing to be put away somewhere when you don’t.

Mike and I have had an ongoing conversation over our years together. I insist I would be better organized if I only had adequate storage to put everything away in its proper place. Mike is just as dogged that if I threw everything out there would be plenty of space for what little remained. He really means everything. And so it goes until I start wanting to organize again.

A few Happy Birthdays: to Millie Gault on October 27, Barbara Moment on October 29, Sandy Turner on November 7, and Lyn Hinds on November 9.

Fall is the time of year that the Capital Improvements Planning Committee begins meeting, and they need a new at-large member ASAP. Town Treasurer Kathy Logue described the committee’s job as reviewing and prioritizing the town’s five-year capital plan for projects over $25,000. She and Town Accountant Bruce Stone, appointees from town departments, and two members at-large from the community make up the membership. They begin meeting monthly this time of year through the winter to prepare for Annual Town Meeting. If you are interested, apply to Jen Rand in the Selectmen’s office, 508-696-1012, or Call or email Kathy with any questions: 508-696-1018 or Or stop in to town hall.

Valerie Sonnenthal, a MELT instructor, is hosting three ninety-minute workshops to introduce people to MELT bodywork, “simple self-care techniques you can use to make your body feel better and function more efficiently.” Workshops are $25 per class and are held in her studio on Peaked Hill. The first workshop is this Saturday, November 1, 10–11:30 am. Sessions two and three will be Sunday, November 9, 10-11:30 am and Monday, December 8, 5-6:30 pm. For more information, call Valerie at 508-645-9692 or look at her website

Vineyard Montessori’s fundraiser, Truckin’ MV, is this Saturday, November 1, 11 am–1:30 pm, in the MVRHS parking lot. It is every gearhead’s dream of giant trucks and power equipment available to inspect and climb on to your heart’s content. $10/child or $25/family helps support the school and projects.

The West Tisbury Library is getting ready for its Annual Halloween Party. It will be this Friday, October 31, 3:30–5 pm. There will be a hayride, crafts, yummy treats, and everyone in the best costumes in town. Come and have fun. It’s all free and everyone is welcome.

Special programs at the library this week include West Tisbury poet laureate Justen Ahren’s free poetry workshop this Saturday morning, November 1, 11 am–1 pm, “Mining Poems for the Resonant Image.” On Monday evening, November 3, Carolina Cooney will lead the Graphic Novel Book Club in a discussion of Roz Chast’s book Can’t We Please Talk About Something More Pleasant: A Memoir. The discussion begins at 7 pm.

Don’t forget that the library is open now on Sunday afternoons, 1–5 pm, through the winter.

I just heard that Alan Cottle suffered multiple fractures when he fell off scaffolding this past Saturday. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

I have been reading Mill Pond Joe by Nelson Bryant, his reminiscences of life in West Tisbury since the 1930s. There are wonderful descriptions of the way the town looked, lots of stories about people and families well-known, Nelson’s hunting and fishing adventures, his life as a naturalist, and his career as a writer. There’s some personal biographical stuff, too, but mostly it’s Nelson’s love of nature over a lifetime that is his story. Mill Pond Joe was the name of the bedtime story hero he made up when his children were small. The stories are just as engaging to read for myself.

Colors are changing every day. They seem to be fading rather than intensifying, a pale rust replacing once-vibrant orange and red, green sliding into a yellowing chartreuse. Not the fresh chartreuse of new spring leaves, but a last bit of effort color, before bare twigs and branches are all that remains.

I have been following Marsha Winsryg’s and Ruth Kirchmeier’s travels through Tuscany on Marsha’s facebook page, “…an artist’s waking dream” as Marsha describes it. They have posted their own drawings of magical landscapes they have walked to and sculptures in public squares, as well as photographs of Fra Angelico’s frescoes, the black and cream interior of the Baptistry of Florence, acres of olive trees and 300-year-old cypresses, hillsides swooping along in landscapes that seem familiar from Renaissance paintings. The trip was a planned fundraiser for the African Artists’ Community Development Project, one of the projects Marsha has supported with her time, advocacy, passion, and sales of crafts. She plans another trip this coming spring. It all sounds an amazing opportunity to see and experience a beautiful place through the eyes of an artist. Can’t wait till they return home to hear all the details and see the art they made. And the art to come.

Shirley Mayhew wrote a wonderful article for the fall/winter Martha’s Vineyard Home & Garden that has just come out. It’s called “Local Food? Again?” and tells the story of reality in 1950s West Tisbury for her, her husband, Johnny, and their three children, when “…eating fresh local food wasn’t a fad. It was a necessity.” I remember daughter Deborah reading a funny tribute at Shirley and Johnny’s 50th anniversary party; the refrain was something about eating oysters once again, and again and again. It’s a good read.

I was surprised to hear about Abigail and Tony Higgins celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We all seem too young. Pat and Joannie Jenkinson had theirs a few weeks ago. Congratulations and wishes for many more years together.

Paddy Moore is hosting a project of the Rural Scholars Committee of Dukes County Health Council, sponsored by Rural Scholars from UMASS and the Graduate School of Nursing, called Rural Scholars Study Elder Abuse and Neglect. They will present their findings at the West Tisbury Library on Thursday, October 30, 4:30–6 pm. The public is invited to this free program. John Hough Jr. will be the featured guest author when the Library Foundation’s Speakeasy Series resumes at State Road Restaurant on Tuesday, October 28, 5:30–7:30 pm. Hors d’oeuvres and erudite conversation are the fare. Call Carol Brush for reservations: 508-693-3489. Tickets are $30.

If you have enjoyed the Vineyard Colors exhibition at the library, you may be interested in their 2015 calendar. It has verses by Dan Waters, as well as a selection from their daily photographs taken around the Island. You can buy it right in town at Alley’s or Conroy’s.

West Tisbury Parks and Rec is offering a free series of yoga classes for adults at the library on Tuesday evenings, 5:30-7, beginning October 21 through December 16. The classes will be taught by Carol Aranzabe, who trained at Kripalu Center and specializes in therapeutic techniques that balance muscles and relieve pain. Participants must commit to all eight classes, as space is limited. Call or stop by the library to register, 508-693-3366.

The library staff is getting ready for Halloween, always a festive occasion. The drop-in craft this Saturday is making spooky houses with stained-glass windows. Lots of Halloween-themed books are on display in the Children’s Room. And the Halloween Party is in the works. It will be held on Friday, October 31, from 3:30 to 5 pm. There will be hayrides, special craft projects, and treats to enjoy. I just spoke with Nelia, who said she is busy putting up decorations and making plans for the party. Please come in your costumes and prepare to have a good time. If you would like to, bring a favorite nut-free treat.

Pre-register for poet laureate Justen Ahren’s poetry workshop for adults to be held at the library on Saturday, November 1, 11 am to 1 pm. The subject is “Mining Poems for the Resonant Image.”

Participants are asked to bring something to write with and an original poem to work with. Sign up at the library, 508-693-3366, or online at

Another heads-up. Carolina Cooney will lead the Graphic Novel Book Club in a discussion of Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant: A Memoir on Monday evening, November 3.

The wind is blowing and frost is predicted. And a nor’easter later in the week. I’m making soup and getting extra wood in. Extra books and candles, too. Nothing like a good storm.

This is one of those weeks that reflects the full paradigm of life. Birth, death, and all in between.

I begin with the death of Robert Potts. Robert died at home, quietly with Marjory, this past Saturday evening. When I saw Marjory on Friday, we knew it could be soon, but he had been skyping on the computer with Oliver earlier in the week and Phoebe had been to visit from Gloucester.

Robert bore his illness with dignity and grace, much as he lived his life. He was a former writer of this column for several years, before retiring to begin The Broadside, West Tisbury’s own paper, sold for “one thin dime.” Devoted readers lined up outside Fella’s and Conroy’s or at the library on Fridays, waiting for the latest installment to arrive. Town politics and town news were covered with wry wit and style. He and Marjory made a great team.

I will miss his sense of humor most of all, his laughing at his own jokes. I will miss his intelligence, his impatience, his carefully crafted sentences, his theatrical skill, his opinions whether we agreed or not. Mostly, I will miss someone I was always happy to say hello to when we met.

Two new babies with West Tisbury roots were born at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, both on Monday, October 6. Welcome and wishes for a good life to you and your families.

Benjamin David Runner is the son of Benjamin Runner and Rose Campbell. His grandparents are Scott and Ruth Campbell and Earl Runner and Martha Caruso. His more-than-proud great-aunt is Hasty Runner.

Jennifer Reekie Goeckel and John Goeckel are the parents of a daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Goeckel. Charlotte is the granddaughter of Chele and Allan Reekie and the great-great niece of Phyllis Meras.

It was my honor to attend Rose Herman’s Bat Mitzvah last Saturday. She read her Torah portion beautifully and gave a thoughtful commentary of its meaning. The Hebrew Center was filled with family and friends from here on the Vineyard and from away. Rose is the daughter of Robert Herman and Madeline Way, the sister of Julian Herman.

The last Farmers’ Market of the summer was held last Saturday outside the Grange Hall in a drenching downpour. This Saturday, October 18, is the first Winter Farmers’ Market of the season, indoors at the Ag Hall. Best news from Linda Alley is that the market will be held every Saturday through December, except for Thanksgiving weekend. Hours are 10 am to 1 pm. Little Rock Farm will provide hot soup served in front of the fireplace. Linda expects over 20 vendors to participate. It’s always a festive atmosphere and, of course, the produce, meat, and baked goods are the best. Hope to see you there. It will be a great place for me to get lots of news for upcoming columns, so stop me to say hello and tell me what’s going on with you.

The MVRHS Minnesingers have planned a Silent and Live Auction Benefit at Dreamland on Saturday, October 25, 6–9 pm. The $25 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, chowder bar, and desserts. There will be a cash bar. Tickets are available from any Minnesinger member or at the door. Proceeds will help offset travel expenses for the Minnesingers trip abroad next April. For more information, call 508-939-4053.

There is still time to sign up for some ACE MV classes. Check their website to see what is still available:

Come to the Land Bank Public Input Session at the West Tisbury Library on Monday, October 20, at 5:15 pm. The Land Bank wants to know what you think about future projects, what your priorities are, what future acquisitions you suggest, so come and give your opinions.

Lanny McDowell is October’s artist of the month at the library. Come see his paintings and photographs in the Program Room during regular library hours.

Holly Bellebuono and Cathy Walthers will speak about their new books on October 16 at 4:30 at the library. Cathy is the author of Kale, Glorious Kale and Holly has written Women Healers of the World: The Traditions, History & Geography of Herbal Medicine.

Sunday afternoon, October 19, at 4 pm, come to the library to hear fiction writer Sam Decker (son of Chris and Nelia) and poet Clark Myers read and discuss their work.

Leslie Baker and I were on one of our art outings last week, driving around to look at some of our favorite painting spots, checking for colors, talking about everything. We both mentioned not having seen Katherine Long in a while; when we stopped at the library, there she was. Katherine showed us the quilt she had donated to the Children’s Room, a colorful confection to cuddle in and to puzzle over. It’s called “I Spy Fish,” and kids are invited to do just that. The new Martha’s Vineyard Modern Quilt Guild, of which Katherine is a member, has been meeting at the library on Wednesday evenings. Check out their website if you are interested in

Katherine has been entertaining friends from Washington, D.C. Leslie Koch is a former librarian Katherine had worked with. She is also a quilter and craftsperson. She and Jim Allen spent their visit touring the Iisland, working on projects, and enjoying Katherine’s fabulous cooking.

Our yard is already covered with leaves. They swirl around me, falling silently, as I walk up the driveway for my newspaper in the morning. I love the daily-changing color of our woods around me, the smell of damp ground, the sound of leaves dry and crackling underfoot.

We had a bit over an inch of rain last week, the welcome answer to every gardener’s prayers. More showers are predicted through the week. We’ll see what we get. After complaining nonstop about the lack of rain all summer, I walked outside in it, then came in to sit by a window and feel moist air blowing in on my face.

The Living Local Harvest Festival and Antique Power Show is this Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Ag Hall. A whole day of events is planned, along with displays of everything from working steam engines to low-energy lightbulbs. There will be food and music and information about everything. Pumpkin carving, too, and crafts, games, animals — lots to inform and entertain.

Ann DuCharme, education director at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, has planned a special table of educational craft projects for kids to learn about Nancy Luce, legendary West Tisbury poet and raiser of much-loved and -lauded chickens at her Tiah’s Cove Road farm, who would have celebrated her 200th birthday this year. An exhibition about Nancy Luce opens at the museum on Nov. 7.

Other special events include a lecture about “Local Options for Reducing our Carbon Footprint” at 10 am, the local wild food challenge at 11, Nature Connection Mentoring at noon, seed saving at 1 (a group on the Vineyard is starting a seed-saving library), and Holly Bellebuono of Vineyard Herbs and Herbal Medicines at 2. George Hartman will be on hand in the Antique Power Barn to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about tools and the steam engines that are his passion.

Musicians are invited to an open-mic stage from 3 pm to 5 pm. Then comes dinner, Island-raised pork and veggies, and dancing to the music of the Flying Elbows. Dinner and dancing is $15.00 per person, and you are asked to bring your own table setting. Parking is $5 to benefit the Martha’s Vineyard Charter School’s Local Meat project.

There will be a free screening and discussion of “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds” at the Film Center on Friday evening, Oct. 3, at 7:30. Leading the program is Ken Green of Hudson Valley Seed Savers.

Mary Beth Norton sent me an osprey update this past week that included a photograph by Lanny McDowell. Take a look at The bird in Lanny’s photograph there is DJ.

Geraldine Brooks will be at the Katharine Cornell Theatre this Sunday, Oct. 5, in conversation with Nick Bunker, author of “An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America.Their conversation begins at 4 o’clock. It’s free and open to the public.

Earlier on Sunday afternoon, at 3 pm, David Rhoderick and the choir of the West Tisbury Church will perform a “Concert of Two Continents.” The program includes Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and Randall Thompson’s “Frostiana: A Series of Seven Choral Settings of Poems by Robert Frost.” Admission is $15.00, and includes a reception in the parish hall following the concert. Students may attend for free. The concert is sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society.

ACE MV classes begin on Monday, Oct. 6. You may look at course listings and register online at There is a late fee charged for registering on the first day of class.

Patricia Cliggott has planned an event at her home, 129 Indian Hill Road, for the Columbus Day weekend. Called “Shine,” it supports the efforts of filmmakers Len and Georgia Morris and their project to help end childhood poverty one transaction at a time. The Morrises will be on hand to talk about their project. Lynne Whiting and Lisa Magnarelle Magden are participating with Patricia in the sale of clothing, art, and local and imported items. All are welcome next Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, Oct.11-13, from 10 am to 8 pm.

West Tisbury artists will be interested to know that the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and Featherstone Center for the Arts announces its second “Island Faces” exhibition of portraits painted by Island artists of Island residents. The opening is planned for June 12, 2015.

The evenings are coming earlier now. I notice that I’m putting on the porch light before Mike comes home, 6:30 last evening; last week it was 6:45. I need to turn on lights in the kitchen to cook dinner now, but it feels cozy, and I like Mike to know he’s welcome home by lights when he drives into the driveway and sees us all waiting for him.

Perfect days continue as we move from summer into fall. I watch for daily changes in the landscape, like the tops of trees beginning to show color where the sun hits them first or asters beginning to bloom. A cloudless blue sky over all. No sign of rain.

I have begun drip-watering my rhododendrons and trees, hoping to prepare them for the oncoming winter. Still picking vegetables and getting ready to plant garlic, but have begun cutting down the perennial gardens. For two cents I would pave my entire yard about now, just to be done with worrying about water and maintenance. I know I will feel excited again by next spring. I guess I will feel excited again by next spring. Always have in the past. But it becomes discouraging to see everything looking awful and no rain predicted yet another week, seemingly never again.

I was shocked to learn that Beach Bennett died on Sept. 17. Too young. Barbara Lampson let me know there will be a celebration of her life at the Ag Hall this Sunday, Sept. 28, from 2 pm to 5 pm. Please bring a dessert to share. I hope the gathering and stories will bring comfort to her family.

Friends are invited to an 11 am mass at St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven this Saturday, Sept. 27, to celebrate the life of Edward Colligan. There will be a burial ceremony at Oak Grove Cemetery followed by a potluck at the Ag Hall.

Too many losses of late. May our gathering together bring comfort to the Bennett/Nelson and Colligan families and to one another.

Chuck Hodgkinson invites everyone to the first public forum of the Mill Brook Watershed Management Planning Committee. It will convene at the West Tisbury library on Monday, Sept. 29, at 5:30 pm. The committee will give a brief overview of its formation and its charge, and what it has learned so far. They want to hear what town residents would like to see addressed, to hear our questions and concerns. Knowing Chuck, there will be several meetings and we will all be well-informed.

Tuesday evening, Sept. 30, come to Flatbread Pizza for dinner and benefit the West Tisbury Library Foundation.

And then it will be October.

Birthdays this week are Megan Mendenhall, now a freshman at Smith College, this Monday. Tuesday, Sept. 30, is Julie Kimball’s birthday. Oct. 1 is for Rose Herman and Judith Linn. Wishing a happy day to you all.

A quiet week. Mike and I have both had colds. Fortunately we were entertained for two hours every evening by “The Roosevelts” on PBS. David McCullough was one of the historians who spoke. What a fabulous documentary by Ken Burns. I hope Beth gets it at the library so we can watch it all over again.

Meanwhile, still no rain.

I’m writing this column on my living room sofa under a warm wool blanket with Nelson asleep in a nest by my feet. It was barely 50 degrees when we woke up. The dogs are curled into tight balls on their dog beds.

Although the sky is overcast, there will be no rain today. Everything is dust-dry, the grass brown, leaves shriveled to conserve what little moisture they can. Mike’s truck kicks up dry clouds of dust when he drives in and out during the day. Saturday night’s promised rainfall left barely a coating in the rain gauge. It had sounded so promising. I can’t believe we are not in a drought.

Mike and I met Ethel and Ralph Sherman years ago at SBS, then remember Ethel behind the desk at Dr. Westover’s office. We have loved her jams and perfectly-arranged vegetables at the Farmers’ Market, along with advice, and her way of making me feel like the most welcome sight in the world. I can’t believe she is gone. My condolences to Ralph and their family, and to everyone who feels the world emptier for her loss.

Walter Ashley was another presence in our lives. Mike always enjoyed his visits with Walter and always learned something. The two of them discussing the finer points of chainsaw repair is an image that makes me smile. He helped Mike restore our 1978 Power King tractor one winter. He was the guru, and will be sorely missed by a large number of people. We will be at the Ag Hall this Sunday between 1 and 3 o’clock to join Connie and their many friends and to celebrate Walter’s life. Hope you can make it, too.

Pam Thors sent a reminder from the Community Preservation Committee that proposals for 2015 projects are due tomorrow, Sept. 19. You may file your application for eligibility with Pam at Town Hall, or file electronically You can email any questions to Calling Pam is a little more complicated, as CPC doesn’t have its own phone. Call Executive Secretary Jen Rand at 508-696-0102 and she will help get you to Pam.

If you have always wanted to know more about electric vehicles, you will have your opportunity this Saturday, Sept. 20. Vineyard Power and Cronig’s Market will host the second annual Electric Vehicle Plug-In Day at the down-island Cronig’s parking lot from 9 am to 12:30 pm. You can view, test-drive, and learn about the vehicles (including a motorcycle) and about rebates and tax credits.

Ellen Weiss called this morning to invite me for a beach walk and to take a break from household chores. She is preparing for the arrival of “three ladies from Thousand Island Park – we call it TIP” – a Victorian campground resort established in 1870 on Wellesley Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River near the Canadian border. Ellen spoke there last year about our Camp Meeting Association in Oak Bluffs. She met Trude Fitelson, Julie Mathieu, and Katherine Zimmerman — her guests who will arrive on Tuesday, to study the Oak Bluffs Campground and how it is being preserved. They look forward to spending time with association members and studying the campground. Hopefully, they will have time for a beach walk. They will bring their findings back to TIP as part of its preservation process.

Don’t forget the Saturday-evening performance of Arnold Rabin’s play What do people talk about when they have nothing to say? at the West Tisbury library at 7 pm.

Susan Bellincampi will speak about her new book, Martha’s Vineyard, A Field Guide to Island Nature, at the West Tisbury library on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 5 pm. Susan has been director of Massachusetts Audubon’s Felix Neck Sanctuary since 2006, and writes the weekly All Outdoors column in the Vineyard Gazette.

Vineyard Colors photographers Moira Fitzgerald and Yann Meersseman will be at the library on Thursday, Sept. 25, to speak about their photographs and exhibition currently atop the stacks. The program begins at 5 pm.

Beth Kramer just called to tell me about Richard Knabel and David Stanwood wanting to give the library a vintage rosewood Steinway that David has restored. She said that everyone at Jonathan Revere’s memorial had so enjoyed having musical accompaniment during the celebration of Jonathan’s life that this idea was born. There are frequent musical programs at the library, and a piano would be a wonderful thing to have. If you are interested in contributing to this gift, please call Richard at 508-696-9134.

I am partial to flowers that smell wonderful, and find myself frequently reminiscing about fragrances from my childhood or from special occasions. It has made me indulge in one extravagance the year round; I always have fresh flowers on the table in our living room. The highlight of this summer has been Krishana Collins’s lilies. Every week there seems a new color in her display and every week I carefully choose my bouquet: the most beautiful, the one with the most buds still to open. Their perfume carries throughout our house, and I am filled with happiness and gratitude for this small gift.

Arnold Rabin has written a new play. What do people talk about when they have nothing to say? will have one performance only at the West Tisbury Library next Saturday, September 20, at 7 pm. The play is in three scenes and is about a story told by two women, their husbands, and their conversations resolved. It is directed by Leslie Stark, who is also one of the actors. Others are Mike Adell, Jenny Allen, and Connie McCreery.

I have known Arnold and his wife, Sydell, mostly from the library, visits to my gallery, and walks around town. As with so many people, I never think about their off-Island lives. Arnold’s has been pretty impressive. He has been a writer, producer, and director for television; the writer of a novel, short stories for adults and children, several plays, and a book about grammar.

Same with Leslie Stark. Retired to the Vineyard after a career in broadcast advertising, he is active in Island Theater Workshop and the Vineyard Playhouse. He has directed two other of Arnold’s plays. The performance is free and all are welcome.

Vineyard Colors has a fabulous exhibition at the library. It comprises a year of photographs. Three hundred and sixty-five images are folded and stretched across the tops of bookcases, upstairs and down. The photography is compelling, and the presentation is a knock-out. If you like it, you can sign-up for their daily emails, The Daily Paper Route, photographs taken around the Island as they deliver our newspapers.

My art/critique group has hung our show in the Program Room. We will be speaking and answering questions on Monday, Sept. 15, at 5:30 pm.

The Graphic Novel Book Club will meet at the library on Monday, Sept. 15, at 7 pm. Carolina Cooney will lead a discussion of Habibi by Craig Thompson.

Steve Maxner’s ten-week series of guitar lessons also begins at 7 pm on September 15. Guitars are provided for free and there is a $20.00 materials fee. Please pre-register at the library circulation desk or call 508 693-3366.

C.K. Wolfson will speak about her book, Painting a Life, Ray Ellis: An Artist Seen through His Work, at the library on Wednesday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 6 pm.

That same evening, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council will host a grant-writing workshop for anyone interested in applying for a MVCC grant to help fund a local cultural activity or event in 2015. Council members will be on hand to answer your questions about the application or funding process.

There is a beautiful yellow and white quilt on display at the library. It has caught my eye and, I am sure, yours as well. It is to be sold in a silent auction on Sept. 30 at Flatbread Pizza. That night is a fundraiser for the library. The quilt was made by Wendy Nierenberg and won a blue ribbon at the 2013 Agricultural Fair.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services will begin two new groups for caregivers of anyone with memory loss from Alzheimer’s, stroke, or other dementias. There is a respite group at the same time, providing art and music for the loved one while the caregiver attends the support group—a great pairing that makes it easier for caregivers. Victoria Haeselbarth and Nancy Langman will lead the two groups. One meets on Tuesday, the other on Thursday mornings, both from 9:30 to 11:00. Groups begin on Sept. 16 or 18. Please call Community Services at 508 693-7900 to sign up. The meetings are free and refreshments are provided.

I have noticed the shortening days. It’s already getting dark as I prepare dinner. I suppose it won’t be long before we are bringing in wood for the stove to take the chill off in the evenings. The seasons are shifting; next week it will be autumn, the autumnal equinox, and our world will slowly darken into winter.

I’m not sure why I’m thinking ahead to that as I enjoy these sunny days. There is a quietness to time now. No more lines of cars as I try to get out of my driveway. Our woods are still green and beach walks beckon, and I’m wearing shorts to feel the sun on my skin. But I know it won’t be long before chamois shirts come out and the woods begin to open up to the sky, leaves turning colors and dropping to the ground. It all feels a time away and close by.

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A group of nine women artists on Martha’s Vineyard critique one another’s work.

"Dune," by Claire Chalfoun.
The artists, from left to right: Lyn Hinds, Hermine Hull, Ruth Kirchmeier, Liz Taft, Leslie Baker and Wendy Weldon. Missing were Claire Chalfoun, Jeanne Staples and Nancy Furino.
The artists, from left to right: Lyn Hinds, Hermine Hull, Ruth Kirchmeier, Liz Taft, Leslie Baker and Wendy Weldon. Missing were Claire Chalfoun, Jeanne Staples and Nancy Furino.


I stood in the doorway of the Program Room looking in at the art arranged along the walls. We had hung the show earlier in the day. The nine of us are: Leslie Baker, Claire Chalfoun, Nancy Furino, Lyn Hinds, Ruth Kirchmeier, Jeanne Staples, Liz Taft, Wendy Weldon, and me, Hermine Hull.

Beth Kramer, listening from the circulation desk, called our way of working together “collaborative engagement,” another way of saying we discussed everything. It was like making a painting, deciding on design, shape, color, balance, the flow of one’s eye from one piece to the next. Analyzing. Assessing. Making a decision. Yes or no? Here, or in another place? In our studios we make these decisions for ourselves and our work is all of a piece. This was different. Agreement had to be by consensus here. Even what to title this exhibition; are we “artists” or “women artists?” “Nine Women Artists” was our choice.

We are artists who have been meeting monthly for 15 years now, an outgrowth from Tom Maley’s drawing group. We began meeting for critiques, a useful several other sets of eyes and critical judgment for our work in progress. It can be helpful to have fresh eyes look at things we have been wrestling with in our separate studios, so studio visits for critiques were our original raison d’être. There were dinners too, and lively conversations, the shared experience of making art and passion for our work. We have all been professional artists our whole lives.

"Yellow and Blue Landscape," Lyn Hinds.
“Yellow and Blue Landscape,” Lyn Hinds.

We decided the most important view was from the doorway, so the first pieces we set out had to be strong. Lyn Hinds’ painting, “Yellow and Blue Landscape,”fit perfectly to one side. “First Choice”by Wendy Weldon became its complement. Both powerful abstract compositions, strong colors and shapes, a square next to a long horizontal bank of windows visually stopped by a vertical. Perfect. Then two monotypes by Leslie Baker on the adjacent wall, geometry and gestural markmaking, visual poetry.

Ruth Kirchmeier’s woodcuts come next, hung together in a section between windows. Her newest woodcut is seen for the first time here, “House by the Hospital”;she has been working on it all summer. “Pathway With Bittersweet, Duarte’s Pond” is Ruth’s masterpiece of twisted vines and branches covering a sun-dappled path. “River Through the Trees”is all rushing water, just as it sounds.

Liz Taft’s “Menemsha Marsh” comes next, a large painting all done on site at the right time of day, the right time of year, studied and described over time and close observation, big enough to envelop the viewer in brushmarks and green space. Nancy Furino’s “Herring Creek Farm”shimmers in pale sunlight and infinite contrasts of broken brushwork and smoothly-colored areas, warm and cool, light and shadow.

"Insider," by Wendy Weldon.
“Insider,” by Wendy Weldon.

Three paintings by Claire Chalfoun string across the back wall beside the doorway. You have to look from inside. The light makes them magic, subtle and inviting places, private worlds to enter. Claire describes the grasses and sand grains, leaves and brushy shrubbery.

Nancy Furino painted “West Tisbury” at haying time. Midsummer green fields stripped pale, now golden hay rolls drying in the sun. The painting stands alone in a space with just the right lighting and space for it.

A vertical space, a doorway, becomes an element in the ongoing composition. A large, mostly green complexity of integrated shapes and colors, moving in and out, “Insider,”by Wendy Weldon. Then three small square landscapes I painted on site, places I have explored and painted over and over again: “Murphy’s Pond,” “Our Woods to the South Side,” and “My Favorite View,”autumn, winter, and early spring. “Yellow Roses and My Paintings”is just what it sounds, painted in my studio with part of a painting above and another on a table easel. The roses appear and disappear, visible and invisible in front of the yellow painting on the wall.

Then softness, an abstract vertical painting by Leslie Baker, “Breaking Light.”Orange light slashes through a lilac and pale blue surface, analogous to the orange and lilac sky in its companion piece, “Portrait of Drack”by Jeanne Staples. Jeanne’s painting is luminous realism; Leslie’s is luminous in its way too. Different. Still, they complement each other.

Liz Taft hangs the work.

We did it. We hung our work, so different in medium, style, intention, color, and presentation, and made it a homogeneous whole. It was like making a painting, bringing the elements together to create something other than its parts. A composition or an exhibition. Complete. We are all excellent composers of visual space.

I have marveled over the years at our work. Every month some of us or all of us bring what we are working on at that moment. Whether it’s a piece of simplicity or complexity, a fixed vision to be perfected or something newly tried, I marvel at our capacity to continue working, to keep figuring it out anew.

Read the artists’ statements in the book accompanying the exhibition. Everyone writes about walking into their studios, the arrangement of the studio, the different ways of working, of seeing, of approaching painting or printmaking, the full engagement of making art, the delicious process. It’s what we do, as simple as that.

Nine Women Artists – 15 Years will remain on view at the West Tisbury library through September. Artist Talk on Monday, Sept. 15, 5:30 pm, in the Program Room. For more information, call 508-693-3366 or visit

Hermine-HullWe had a sprinkling of rain Sunday night, fast and noisy during the night, leaving a mere quarter inch behind. Some relief for which our plants look grateful. It’s still now, with a heavy sky, the hazy, hot, and humid weather of midsummer. We have been spoiled by crisp, cool days when unexpected; now we will have the heat.

Cardinal flower is splendidly blooming along Whiting’s and the Mill Pond. It makes a pretty picture paired with bright chartreuse marsh grasses and dark purple shadows where it sits tucked into the shrubbery. White mallows are blooming now, and shockingly orange and yellow leaves have appeared among still-green woodlands. Aronia and early-turning maples are these first trees to show their autumn colors. Beach plums are ready for picking if you know a secret spot.

Several people have asked about Nelson lately. Coincidentally, I ran into Hal Garneau and Richard Knabel at Cronig’s the other evening. We all had gotten kittens about a year or so ago, all naughty and tearing into our lives. Literally. I’m happy to report that all kittens are now past their first birthdays and settling down to varying degrees. Hal and Dan’s three bad boys are no longer into everything, although they are still energetic, healthy cats who can cause some mischief on occasion. Richard and Jim’s Suzette barely bites at all. Mike and I, and our dogs, have survived Nelson’s first year. He still bites, but not with the vigor he used to show; it feels more gratuitous now: “Oh, this is just what I do. A little love bite.” He is a very handsome orange macho man and I adore him.

Look in this week’s New Yorker magazine for a cartoon by Paul Karasik. It’s a good one.

The Martha’s Vineyard Montessori School announces the hiring of a new Head Classroom Teacher. Her name is Tyrene Johnston. Everyone is excited about her arrival and looking forward to working with her this year. Welcome.

Massachusetts Primary Elections take place on Tuesday, September 9, at the Public Safety Building. Polls open at 7 am and close at 8 pm. Don’t forget to vote. If you are not yet a registered voter in town, go up to see Town Clerk Tara Whiting during her office hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–1:30 pm.

The West Tisbury Library continues to host many programs for all members of the community. Songs and stories for infants to three-year-olds is called Mother Goose on the Loose every Monday morning at 10:30. Older pre-schoolers meet on Thursday mornings at 10:30. The special Island Grown Initiative storytime with Nicole Cabot is next Thursday morning, September 11. It’s all about tomatoes this month. Free all-day craft projects are set up in the Children’s Room every Saturday from 10:30 am–3 pm. Drop in.

Steve Maxner will be giving free guitar lessons at the library beginning September 15 at 5 pm. The program is supported by a grant from the Permanent Endowment For Martha’s Vineyard. Guitars will be provided. There is a $20 fee for materials. You may pre-register at the library.

Nine Women Artists: Fifteen Years is the exhibition in the library’s Program Room through the month of September. It is my art group. We have been meeting since 1998 for monthly critiques, problem solving, meals, and lots of art talk. We will have a reception at the library next Wednesday, September 10, at 5 pm. On Monday, September 15, we will be on hand to talk about our work, our group, to answer any and all questions. The talk begins at 5:30 pm. The nine of us are: Leslie Baker, Claire Chalfoun, Nancy Furino, Lyn Hinds, Hermine Hull, Ruth Kirchmeier, Jeanne Staples, Liz Taft, and Wendy Weldon. We promise you an interesting and spirited conversation, so please come.

September is a bittersweet month. The Derby begins. It’s not so crowded or busy. The weather is nice. School starts. Summer friends leave just as we begin to have time to spend with them. We reconnect with our year-round friends. Faces around town are more familiar, not strangers. There’s time for a nap (maybe) or to clean up the garden, to go outside and paint. It’s still busy, but closer to fall than to summer. A time to evaluate and to prepare. Time to catch your breath.

Hermine-HullThe 153rd Agricultural Fair begins Thursday, August 21, always the highlight of the summer. The fairgrounds will be filled with exhibits and people, some familiar and some new this year. Welcome to the four-day event that brings everyone to West Tisbury.

Mike and I had a friend over for dinner last night, an otherwise urbane New Yorker, who surprised us by his childlike enthusiasm for all the things he loves about living on the Island in the summer. “I love the Fair, I love Illumination Night, I love the fireworks.” This is the week it all happens, the culmination of planning and anticipation. Enjoy it all.

Valerie Sonnenthal sent me a link to fabulous photographs taken by a visitor from England, Charles Saumarez Smith. The gardens, flowers, and produce are gorgeous, all taken on a visit with Bob Skydell at Fiddlehead Farm. Best was the two gentlemen posing in an America Gothic tableau, complete with pitchfork.The link Bob has also announced the publication of his first ever newsletter, The Fiddlehead Farmer, available at the farm stand.

If you take any time off from fair-going, the West Tisbury Library has things happening this week. Jennifer Tseng and Susan Choi will read from their new books this Saturday, August 23, at 4 pm. Jennifer, one of the faces at the Circulation Desk, is an accomplished poet. She is now writing her first novel, “Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness.” The book will be released next June. It tells the story of a librarian “who’s up to no good.” Sounds intriguing.

Susan Choi is the author of four novels. Her first, “The Foreign Student,” won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, “American Woman,”was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. “A Person of Interest” was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. Her most recent novel, “My Education,”received a 2014 Lammy Award.

The last Monday Night Movie of August begins at 6:30 in the library’s program room. The movie and popcorn are free. A video collaboration by Fanny Howe and Maceo Senna, “Outremer,”is the first film, based on a poem of the same name by Fanny Howe. She will read from her new book of poems, “Second Childhood.”Chapters 1 and 2 of P.S. Beirut by Michael Shamberg is the second documentary.

Honor Moore will read and answer questions about her books on Thursday, August 28, at 5 pm. She is the author of a biography, “The White Blackbird, A Life of the Painter Margarett Sargent,”a memoir, “The Bishop’s Daughter,”and three collections of poetry.

Martha Hubbell will teach a Cornhusk Doll workshop for kids aged nine and up at the Library on Wednesday, August 27, 11 to 1.

At 4:30 that afternoon is the Friends of the West Tisbury Library annual meeting. Everyone is welcome to come, learn about the organization, express your opinions and thoughts, and enjoy always-delicious refreshments.

The Library is looking for volunteers for a newly-formed Library Art Committee. Beth Kramer describes it as follows: “The objective of this committee will be to create a diverse collection, of high artistic merit, that will engage the public, complement the Library facility and elevate the library’s contribution to the community.” Contact Beth if you are interested. or 508-693-3366.

There are always people standing in front of the library reading the bricks along our walk. If you would like one, or more, of your own, contact Wendy Nierenberg of the West Tisbury Library Foundation at 508-693-0800 or ask at the library. Bricks are $150 each.

Pam Thors of the Community Preservation Committee wants to invite town residents to a public forum at the Howes House next Wednesday, August 27, 7–8 pm. There is $740,000 available, so come and offer your ideas for projects.

Brooks Robards and I are reading from our book of poems and paintings, “On Island,”at the Aquinnah Town Hall, across from the library, at 5:30 on Thursday, August 28.

I have finally walked on the beach, the first time this summer. I always wonder where the time goes. There were years when Ellen Weiss, Brooks Robards, Mary Beth Norton, Talley and I met every Tuesday morning to walk and look at birds and waves, to talk about our days and our projects, to feel sun and water.

It was a beautiful morning, just the kind of perfect beach day one dreams of in the middle of February. Will we do it again? Maybe after the Fair. Maybe after a group of houseguests leaves or after an appointment off Island. It’s so easy to be busy with other things.

Mary Beth has become an avid bird-watcher. She gave a wonderful lesson about migration as we watched sanderlings peck away at the sand, eating to gain weight for their journey. She explained about osprey, too, the variations in migration of adult or juvenile osprey. There is Rob Bierregaard’s website called OspreyTrax, that tracks osprey and tells their stories, all images made available with GPS devices, sent daily to your inbox. A winter’s occupation.