Authors Posts by Jamie Stringfellow

Jamie Stringfellow

Jamie Stringfellow

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The icy Triangle pyramid, symbol of a never-ending winter, finally melts.

The giant snow bank at the Triangle, as seen on March 24. –File photo by Ralph Stewart

It went from snow pile to no pile in just under four weeks. We launched our “Guess When the Triangle Snow Pile Will Melt Contest” in our March 26 issue, but the Triangle snow pyramid had been huge, and growing, since late January. It melted from a height of — well, we didn’t measure it, but it was humongous, maybe 12 feet, spanning at least half a dozen parking spaces — to a six-inch pile of dirt-encrusted slush, and then, quickly, to nothing but a wet parking spot.

The snow pile had diminished to the size of a medium-sized dog by April 20. –Photo by Michael Cummo
The snow pile had diminished to the size of a medium-sized dog by April 20. –Photo by Michael Cummo

We got dozens of guesses, ranging from early April to the end of May. Some were general (May 17) and some were very precise (12:11 am on April 25).

As reported two weeks ago, we routinely checked the snow pile for melting progress, noting that the dirt encasing it might lengthen the melting process (this was an unscientific theory).

On Monday, April 20, photographer Michael Cummo stopped by the Triangle around noon and noticed that the snow pile had gotten quite small, though not so small that a car could park in the spot it inhabited. With heavy rain and warm (ish) weather predicted, we knew it was a matter of days.

Only a pile of dirt remained in the early morning of April 21. By that afternoon, cars were parking where the giant pile had been. – Michael Cummo
Only a pile of dirt remained in the early morning of April 21. By that afternoon, cars were parking where the giant pile had been. – Michael Cummo

It turns out, it was a matter of hours, or maybe minutes. By early the next morning, the pile was gone. We scanned the spreadsheet that Times intern Elie Jordi created to track all the contestants.

Luckily for us, as we weren’t monitoring the pile with one of our webcams, there was a clear winner. Steve Parachini of Edgartown, ironically one of our very first guessers, had guessed 4:20 pm on 4/20. No one else was within a day of him. He’ll receive a gift certificate to Edgartown Meat and Fish Market.

Steve Parachini will take home a prize of meat and fish for guessing when the giant snow pile would melt.
Steve Parachini will take home a prize of meat and fish for guessing when the giant snow pile would melt.

The pile, we guessed, was ushered out of the parking lot and into the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road at some point during the storm on the night of April 20.

Good riddance, almost-never-ending winter of 2015, and congratulations, Mr. Parachini.

Japanese maples, and the upside of fish guts.

From left, Lori, Jack and Paul Mahoney.

You would think that it would be difficult for an avid gardener and someone who has worked with plants since he was a little kid to pick his favorite plant. I asked Paul Mahoney, my dad, to do just that, and he came up with an answer pretty quickly. He replied almost immediately, “Japanese maple, because there are so many different kinds that can fit into so many different environments. They are versatile, and can enhance any atmosphere in a garden.”

Japanese Maples. – Courtesy Jardin Mahoney
Japanese Maples. – Courtesy Jardin Mahoney

From red to green, upright to sprawling, a thick dense canopy to a very open and translucent appearance, Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) really can be used in many different ways. I love when the late afternoon sun shines through the tree’s canopy and really shows the colors of the leaves, more so with the reds than the greens. I have designed quite a few gardens, and have incorporated Japanese maples to complement the other plants in the landscape. For example, I like using the more upright varieties, like the ‘Seiryu’ (green) or ‘Emperor I/Bloodgood’ (red), to soften the corner of a house. Another benefit to including these trees in landscapes is that because they tend to have a more open canopy, you can underplant them very nicely without taking away from the beauty of the tree. The lower-growing, sprawling varieties can make a nice addition to the foreground of a bed, or even hanging over and down a retaining wall. I really like how the bold red foliage looks against a light stone wall. Japanese maples truly are a very versatile plant.

Japanese maples like fertile but well-drained soil, and can tolerate part-shade to sun. Usually when planting, I recommend amending the soil with a compost mix. I often use Mahoney’s Compost Planting Mix, which has Bio-tone, great for helping plants to get established. I also like the Coast of Maine Compost and Peat and Coast of Maine Lobster Compost, which are both certified organic. Japanese maples tend to be low-maintenance, and require little pruning. They should be fertilized heavily in the spring and more lightly in the fall for overall plant health. I like using Espoma Tree-tone, but if you don’t want to buy a whole bag for one tree, the Espoma Plant-tone is a great all-purpose fertilizer, and works just as well. I remember when I was probably about 5 or 6; we had a ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese Maple planted right outside our kitchen window. One day my dad took me fishing, and we saved all the leftover remains after filleting them, and buried them around the tree. I was so excited that we were feeding this tree with something else from nature. That tree soon became the focal point of our foundation planting. It’s funny the things you remember doing when you were little; now I’m out there in my own garden doing the same thing 20-odd years later. Now that I have a son of my own, I am looking forward to teaching him all the things that my dad has taught me about plants and gardening.

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From left: candidates Ray Taylor, Abe Seiman, Brian Packish, Kathy Burton and Greg Coogan.

Oak Bluffs voters can see a replay of the April 9 debate among candidates for town selectmen on Wednesday at 8:30 pm and Thursday morning at 9. The debates will air on channel 13, or viewers can see them by going to the MVTV website.

The debate was co-sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Times and MVTV.

John Tiernan of the Dockside Inn, at the Massachusetts Lodging Association's recent Stars of the Industry Awards.

John Tiernan, manager of the Dockside Inn on the harbor in Oak Bluffs, was named General Manager of the Year by the Massachusetts Lodging Association (MLA) at its Stars of the Industry Awards for his outstanding leadership at the Martha’s Vineyard boutique hotel.

The awards recognize outstanding accomplishments in the lodging trade. According to a press release, Mr. Tiernan, nicknamed “Chief of Comfort,” has earned a reputation for treating guests and employees like family and for his signature enthusiasm and pride for his hotel.

“The owner, John, picked us up in his vintage Rolls Royce and showed us around town, pointing out all the stops we needed to make,” wrote one guest in support of his nomination. “He made us feel so important as we drove around town! We made great conversation with John along the way, and he even had the bartender give us a round on the house once we settled.”

For more information, go to

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The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank announced yesterday the purchase of a 30.6-acre property at Toms Neck in Edgartown for $5,170,000 from seller Ann Floyd and others.

The property, made up of overgrown farm fields, surrounds Pease Pond and has long views out to the Cape Poge Pond, a prolific shellfish resource. The Land Bank’s acquisition of the property will conserve several pre-subdivided building lots, and reduce the potential number of future septic systems in Cape Poge Pond’s watershed, according to a press release.

“The acquisition was singular in Land Bank history, however, for reasons unrelated to the land itself: The transaction was an unusual collaboration between donors, volunteer creditors, and a remarkable citizens’ organization known as the Chappaquiddick Open Space Committee,” the press release said.

The committee, chaired by Nancy Hugger, arranged for the Toms Neck property’s acquisition and its financing. Of the $5.17 million cost, $2.2 million was donated outright and $1.9 million was collectively loaned to the Land Bank by 11 Chappaquiddick families.

Management planning is underway. The Land Bank expects the property will be opened to the public in 2016.

Anyone with questions about the acquisition is encouraged to attend one of the Land Bank Commission’s regular weekly meetings at 5 pm on Mondays, or one of the Edgartown town land bank advisory board’s meetings at 4:30 pm on the first Thursday of the month, in the Land Bank’s offices at 167 Main Street in Edgartown. Call 508-627-7141 for more information.


March 23, Richard S. and Lee M. Dubin sold 19 Crocker Dr. to Katherine O’Brien for $825,000.

March 23, Isabel B. Lenssen, trustee of Isabel B. Lenssen Trust, sold 11 Plantingfield Wood Circle to Black Point LLC for $540,000.

March 24, JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, as successor in interest by purchase from FDIC as Receiver of Washington Mutual Bank, the present holder of the mortgage from John Alden Hall to Washington Mutual Bank FA, sold by foreclosure deed 69 The Boulevard to Big B Capital LLC for $1,000,000.

March 25, Leo J. Cushing, trustee of 77 Fuller Street Realty Trust and the Joseph C. Whitney Qualified Personal Residence Realty Trust, sold 77 Fuller St. to Twanette Tharp for $5,400,000.

March 27, Stewart R. Kusinitz sold 16, 14, 10 and 8 Puwal Lane to Kruppers LLC for $2,485,000.

West Tisbury

March 26, Caroline R. Flanders sold 20 Bailey Park Rd. to Laurie C. Clements for $236,900.

March 26, Joseph A. and Natalie A. Thibodeau sold 145 Great Plains Rd. to Christopher A. and Margaret O. Murray for $640,000.

March 26, Paul Lazes sold 13 Rock Pond Rd. to Caroline R. Flanders for $505,000.

Mass Audubon at Felix Neck welcomes Alexandra (Ally) Ferland to the Felix Neck staff. Ally is Felix Neck’s new education assistant, and will work closely with Josey Kirkland, education coordinator, to provide nature education programming to students in the Island school system. She will also lead public programs for the community at the sanctuary during the summer season.

Graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.S. degree in Natural Resource Conservation, Ally’s focus was environmental conservation. According to a press release, Ally believes that her childhood on Martha’s Vineyard led to her passion for the natural world: “The idea of sharing knowledge and awareness of the importance of conserving this Island is what gets me excited, and gets me up in the morning.”

Ally will be heading up Felix Neck’s Nursery School Naturalist program for preschoolers, beginning April 2. This program runs every other Thursday from April 2 to June 11 at the sanctuary from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. Participants will look for signs of spring and watch the season unfold at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary through stories, crafts, walks, live animal presentations, and more! Ages 3 to 5 with a parent/friend, $6 per child for members of Mass Audubon, and $9 per session for nonmembers.

Our Lambert’s Cove spotters report in.

Also called chorus frogs or tree frogs, peepers can make quite a racket considering they are barely an inch long. — File photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

The spring peepers, otherwise known as pinkeltinks, are back. After an especially long and cold winter, the sounds of springtime have invaded West Tisbury, surprisingly, several days earlier than last year.

Alex Goethals, of West Tisbury, heard them about 5 pm, Thursday and emailed The Times. “I was working and could hear them from inside [my] house. They are very loud… [and] I live next to a swampy area, so the sound is unavoidable.”

Nancy-Alyce Abbott, of West Tisbury, first heard them around 6:45 pm that same day. Her son Brian heard them and gave a shout, leading Ms. Abbott onto her back porch, which is right off Lambert’s Cove Road, to hear for herself.

“I have been keeping an ear out for them,” she said. “I have kept track of when I have heard them in past years, so I knew it would be anytime now. They usually start ‘singing’ just after sunset, and they really like rainy weather.” Thursday evening was mild and rainy.

Mr. Goethals and Ms. Abbott have competed in past years to see who can hear the tiny frogs first, then alert the media. This year was no exception, as both heard them on the same day. Mr Goethals, though, was quickest by about two hours. His email to The Times office was time stamped at 4:55 pm; Ms. Abbott’s was 7:08 pm, giving Mr Goethals the unofficial crown for yet another year.

Sandy Fisher called Friday morning and left a message in which she reported hearing the peepers about 8 pm.

One day later, Oak Bluffs peepers joined the chorus. The Times received the following email at 8 pm, Friday: “ER night shift reporting in — pinkeltinks audible from hospital parking lot. First of spring?”

For more background on the the history of the friendly race, or the spring peepers, check out our article last year: Jeepers, creepers, Martha’s Vineyard loves its spring peepers.



Listen to them!


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And win a prize of meat or fish.

When will this snow mound finally disappear? – Photo by Ralph Stewart

On Tuesday we got an email from Paul Watts, vice president at the Edgartown National Bank. “As I go from home to work and work to home each day,” he wrote, “I drive by a very large pile of snow near the Granite Hardware store, in the parking lot. Since the winter has dragged on for so long, I thought I would share an idea.” Mr. Watts suggested that The Times launch a contest wherein readers would guess at which hour on which day the giant (not as giant as it was a few weeks ago, but still sizeable) snow mountain at the Triangle would completely disappear.

So, consider this a contest: Send us an email (, or post as a comment below this story, your best guess on the date (and, if you’re into precision, the hour) that the mound at the Triangle will be completely gone.

Whoever is closest will win a $50 gift certificate to the Edgartown Meat & Fish Market.