Authors Posts by Valerie Sonnenthal

Valerie Sonnenthal

Valerie Sonnenthal

Gyrokinesis Workshop at the Chilmark Community Center. —Photo courtesy of Amanda Tay

September mornings wake me to the cool of changing seasons. I love seeing the new Dorper lambs grazing in the field next door. We have been picking apples from our wild apple tree and enjoying carrots, beets, and potatoes from our garden. I feel rejuvenated after a three-day Gyrokinesis Workshop with Billy Macagnone of New York City’s Body Evolutions Studio at the Chilmark Community Center, and am grateful this work was available to those on the Island who cannot travel, including teachers Daryl Owens and Giulia Casalino. What I learned having seven guests in my home for the weekend was when no one answers a phone at a restaurant you know is open, it’s a wedding party. We tried to eat out in Chilmark for dinner on Saturday night. No luck at Chilmark Tavern, or Homeport. We tried State Road, no luck. We called Isola in Edgartown and when we got there only the pizza restaurant was open. In the end we were seated on a side porch away from crowds and noise and enjoyed a delicious meal at Alchemy. So I guess during wedding season if you do not have reservations and no one is answering the phone, head to a town with choices.

Welcome home and back to school for the 4th and 5th graders from Chilmark School who successfully navigated the ocean and returned safely to our shores after a week of adventure on the Alabama.

Chilmark Preschool’s fall fundraiser to support their enrichment programs is portrait sessions with Island photographer Albert O. Fischer. This year they are offering shoots at both Grey Barn & Farm and Menemsha Beach. Please consider enjoying this for you and your loved ones or giving it as a gift to friends or family. Here are the dates and locations: Saturday, Sept. 20, 2 pm to 6 pm, Menemsha Beach; Sunday, Sept. 28, 2 pm to 6 pm, Grey Barn & Farm; Saturday, Oct. 4, 9 am to 1 pm, Menemsha Beach; and Saturday, Oct. 18, 9 am to 1 pm, Grey Barn & Farm. Cost is $75 per session, which includes 15 minutes of shooting and high-resolution digital files of all photos. Contact Sarah Waldman at 781-799-9941 or to reserve your session! More information at

The Chilmark library would like to extend thanks to everyone who supported the Summer Reading Program with coupons of appreciation. Children’s librarian Kristin Maloney said, “We had a very successful program, and are grateful for the extra incentive to encourage children to read that our local businesses provide. Almost 200 children signed up for the Summer Reading Program.” The library sends big thanks to The Bite and Karen Flynn; Chilmark Chocolates and Allison Burger and Marybeth Grady; Chilmark Store and Jennifer Lorusso and Joel Glickman; Menemsha Texaco and Marshall and Katie Carroll; Menemsha Galley and Frank and Merrily Fenner; and Menemsha Market and Debbie Packer.

Be sure to drop by the photography exhibit by Chilmark resident Hillary Noyes-Keene displayed in the Chilmark public library meeting room through Oct. 2. And check out Liza Lynch’s photography exhibit at Santander Bank from Sept. 19 to Oct. 3.

Don’t forget it’s M.V. Fashion Week, supporting Angel Flights NE. Check for events.

The sun has been shining, and getting those beach days in before the start of school was an unexpected gift for many. Monday brought the pre-K kids to school for their first day, and we hope they loved their new classrooms, teachers, and friends. Though there are bicycle tours led by oversize vans, the traffic is gone, and the porch at the Chilmark Store is still packed with visitors in the mornings and at lunchtime.

Chilmark lost two remarkable women in the past couple of weeks, Dr. Laura Lee Reid and Ethel Sherman. Our hearts go out to Laura’s children Sarah Canca, Katy Decker, and Eben Coszutta and their families. Dr. Reid’s memorial service was a celebration of her life with nearly 300 people crowded into the Grange Hall. Dr. Bernard Levy appreciated her participation in creating a program for recovering doctors in Massachusetts and thought she was the first woman doctor on staff at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Chilmark also mourns the passing of Ethel Sherman, and we send our love and support to the love of her life, Ralph, and their family. I met Ethel at Cynthia Riggs’ writer’s group when it was conducted at Howes House in 2007. Ethel’s wonderful stories about Ralph surprised us and warmed our hearts. She always managed to put a smile on my face, always had time for a kind word, shared her love of the Island Farmer’s Market, and her preserves were much coveted holiday gifts for off-Island friends. Ethel we miss you terribly!

Help repair the cross and steeple of the Chilmark Church by attending mezzo-soprano Lia Kahler’s varied program of songs, spirituals, and arias, on Sept. 14 at 3 pm at the Chilmark Community Church. Lia’s pianist, Richard Gordon, and organist, Philip Dietterich, will also perform as soloists. A silent auction at 2 pm will continue during intermission and the reception following the concert. For tickets, $15 general, $10 senior/student, call 508-645-3325.

This week The Yard continues with local artists at Poetry Night, Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 8 pm; and Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish play for Public Dancing Allowed, Friday, Sept. 12 at 8 pm. For more information, call 508-645-9662 or go to

Yes, Chilmark Chocolates is open again, Thursdays – Sundays, 11:30 am to 4:30 pm. Homeport Back Door is open Monday – Wednesday from 11 am to 3 pm and Thursday – Sunday from 11 am to 8:30 pm; dinner inside is served from 5 pm on Thursdays – Sundays. Chilmark Tavern is open Thursdays – Mondays from 5:30 pm. Chilmark Store is open weekdays until 3:30 and weekends until 8 pm. The Galley is open 11 am to 3 pm, Sunday – Friday and Saturdays from 11 am to 7:30ish. The Bite, just filmed this week for the Travel Channel, is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 11:30 to 3:30 pm. And both fish markets are open daily: Larsen’s Fish Market is open Sunday – Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm and Friday – Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm; Menemsha Fish Market is open 9 am to 7:30 pm every day.


The boys and girls of Chilmark softball summer: From left, Keith Heller, Irving Petlin, Mark Levine, Bruce Ekman, Howie Bromberg, Jerry Murphy, Ed and Holly Edgar, and Jason Balaban with daughter, Sophie, on his lap after the last baseball game of the season at Flanders Field.

The final “official” softball game of the season was played at Flanders Field on Sunday, August 31, followed by Paul Iantosca and Arlen Roth’s traditional Hebrew National hot dog cookout. Last goodbyes were said by team members including Hans Solmnsen, Tony Horwitz, Caleb Caldwell, Paul DiMaura, Joel Bleier, Jay Grossman, Joel Greenberg, William Edgar, Jim Feiner, Mark Friedman, Ted Satler, Larry and Charlie Weiss, and Lynn Puro, among others, provoking both sadness and joy.

“This was an extremely successful year as more new players came by to just drop in and play,” Paul said.

As a wise old philosopher once said, “There is no final game.” Commissioner Bill Edison already looks forward to next summer. Team members still wish the Commissioner, age 90, would get a cell phone and email to stay in touch. You can be sure that now that all the players have an email list, they will be in touch over the off-season. The Flanders Field of Dreams awaits their return.

Come and check out “unofficial” Sunday morning games during September. Anyone wishing to be added to the Chilmark roster list for email game notices may send information to:

Valerie SonnenthalI drove to Joan Bowman’s summer rental retreat overlooking Squibnocket after morning rain — wet, glittering in sunlight breaking through majestic clouds. I met Joan my second summer living on the Vineyard through a friend from Rockland County, N.Y. (my former home), and have looked forward to seeing her every summer.

Joan’s second book, Some Kind of Lucky, was published this summer by Vineyard Stories and she did two Island readings and book signings. I lost my own mother 10 years ago and am always inspired by Joan’s honesty, openness and energy. She turned 82 on August 19 and left for Ireland on Labor Day for a 12-day trip organized by her alma mater, Smith College. Joan “loves all the Irish writers” and we hope she is having a wonderful time.

She described one of the first houses she rented, on Quitsa, pointing, “up on that ridge, it was a really funky house, but worked somehow. Beautiful views, and then you would walk down this really steep staircase. It was like something out of a Fellini movie, sort of surreal. Then you’d walk down to the beach.” Joan said of her present house (that she has rented since 2000), as she gestured towards the front door, “People walk in that door and they lose their breath.”  The view over rolling green, Stonewall Pond, and the ocean rendered me speechless with a gaping open mouth the first time I met Joan.

I asked whether Joan has ever sat on the porch at The Chilmark General Store. She laughed, “I have never sat in one of those rocking chairs; it’s funny — why haven’t I done that? Usually I go there on a mission, like oh my God we have no bread, or we need to stop at the ATM for cash.” Though her son-in-law from Pittsburgh and her daughter do the two-mile walk each way regularly when they visit, buy their New York Times, hang out, have some coffee and a morning treat before their trek home.

During her month on Island she is very seldom alone, nightly dinners at home swelling from 6 to nearly 20 at her table between entertaining friends and her extended family visiting from both coasts. Her latest book was put together in the last year versus her first book in 2010, self-published, which “took a long time to write because [I] didn’t have a publisher, didn’t have an editor, there were times when [I] got fed up and didn’t pay any attention to it.” She continues: “What inspired me and forced me to finish it was the death of my son. He read a lot of the book. I had talked to him about things in the book more than my other children. After he died, I couldn’t write, at all. As I started to heal, I realized, about a year after he died, that he would want me to finish this book.”

Her first trip with Smith was in 1997 to the Veneto region in Italy where “Palladio built many many villas for the Venetians to get away from the heat.” Two of her “Rowdy Crew” friends, what they have called themselves since their undergraduate Smith days, passed away last March. Joan continued, “This is such a sensitive time. I never thought about dying until a couple of years ago. All of a sudden there’s a shift. [Now] I think about it quite often. You just wonder — how much longer have I got, and what do I want to do?” Laughing she admits, “Which I can’t answer.”

Joan came to writing in her sixties. She went to Sarah Lawrence because she wanted to write a design column for a local newspaper. And it happened. She did it for one year and got to see her insider tips about design appear every Thursday; then freelancers were let go and her writing evolved and she realized she would not be happy writing about design the rest of her life. So she went back to Sarah Lawrence and studied with Suzanne Hoover who inspired Joan to write her family memoir and apply to their MFA program. There she wrote 80 pages, all of which are in the book.

Joan brought the Paul Taylor 2 Company to the Island this summer. None of the six dancers had ever been here before. She had four staying with her. “The company got a standing ovation at PAC after performing one of his signature pieces — Esplanade — based on pedestrian movement.” Joan’s New Jersey neighbors originally brought her to Paul Taylor performances and then asked her to join the board.

Joan is candid, she tells like it is, and she seems to have enough life behind her that she no longer wastes time. I look forward to learning about Joan’s adventures when she returns to Chilmark next July.

And as far as town happenings it is the last Lobster Roll Tuesday, 4:30 – 7:30 pm at the Chilmark Church. Don’t miss Garrett James and other musical guests at The Yard, Friday, September 5, at 8 pm — for info, call 508-645-9662. And tune in next week to learn about the last softball game of the season.

Valerie SonnenthalThe season is winding down, nights have an added chill as the temperature drops, the Ag Fair has packed up, the last Chilmark Flea Market is Saturday, August 30, 10 am–2 pm, summer neighbors and vacationing friends are headed back to more hectic lives and Labor Day is around the corner. Parents and kids are preparing for the first day of school, Thursday, September 4, and we wish all the incoming kindergartners and returning Chilmark students a great beginning to their new school year. The Chilmark School art show is up through August 29 at the Santander Bank. I had hoped to get there for the opening but got tied up with family and then we had to get on the road to take my younger son to Oberlin.

I hear from the Chilmark Library that the Elisa Brickner Memorial Poetry Contest winners reading “went really well, people called to say it was touching and moving and wonderful!” In case you missed them the Junior High winners are Sam Kass of Michigan, Julia Kane of Vineyard Haven, and Meredith Carlomagno of West Tisbury; the High School winners are Hannah Soros of New York, Shoshana Boardman of Arlington, and Aliza Astrow of New York. Congratulations to all! You can stop by and read the poems in an album displayed at the front desk before it is moved to its home in the Poetry Corner; you can share the poems online at the library website. Next year the library plans a 20th anniversary publication of 20 years of Elisa Brickner winning poems in one book.

I look forward to checking out the DVD of art historian Henry Adams “Thomas Hart Benton on Martha’s Vineyard” presentation sponsored by the Chilmark Historical Commission and the Friends of the Chilmark Public Library that took place August 13 to an overflowing crowd. It had been a rainy day and when we got to the library at 5:15 pm there wasn’t even standing room in the hall outside the lecture room. We did try to listen through the doors from the children’s area, but without the added slideshow opted to wait for the DVD. I’ll let you know when the library adds it to its collection. Remember library hours change on September 2; Tuesdays the library now closes at 1:30 pm and they are closed on Fridays.

If you are up Island don’t miss fellow Cleaveland House Poet Brooks Robards and artist Hermine Hull discussing their exquisite new book “On Island,” which features their poems and paintings inspired by walks together, 5 pm, Thursday, August 28, at the Aquinnah Library. I have already sent this book as an inspiration to a number of good friends. Also if you are looking for programs for kids Aquinnah Library hosts MAD Libs Tuesdays at 3 pm, story and crafts for younger children on Thursdays, 3–4 pm, and drop-in story reading 2–3:30 pm on Saturdays, plus on rainy days there’s always Legos on the Rug. For info, call 508-645-2314.

The Yard will debut a new full-length work choreographed by Alison Manning and Jesse Keller on Friday, August 29, at 8 pm and Saturday, August 30, at 11 am, includes works by Yard interns and Island-based improvisational dance company What’s Written Within plus other guest performers. I have seen portions of Alison and Jesse’s full-length piece as it has been created over the past couple of years and look forward to seeing this completed work by the talented staff at The Yard. For info, call 508-645-9662 or visit Also you can still attend yoga classes daily through Sunday, September 7.

Siggy Vanraan, an inspiration to all Sunday softball players, overcame an injury to pitch the final game. A cheerleader for Flanders Field softball over many years, Siggy was awarded the Most Valuable Person trophy at Sunday’s game. Congratulations Siggy: keep up the good work and we look forward to seeing you next year!

Valerie SonnenthalStill in the August blur and enjoying beach cookouts at sunset, swimming in the rain, the best tomatoes ever courtesy of my neighbor, and an incredible Shabbat dinner, but I am behind on my gardening duties and have been taking care of my son who had all his wisdom teeth removed.

I have fallen in love with Menemsha; every time I go down for a walk with my dogs I feel transported by the strange international mix of visitors and locals. I finally made it into Lambert’s Cove Glass, a walk-in closet of a store, between Beetlebung Coffee House and Scott McDowell’s Copperworks of Martha’s Vineyard. I was lucky to pick up a copy of Nancy Safford’s “Time’s Island: Portraits of the Vineyard,” a 1973 photo book published by MIT Press. The store has an excellent selection of used books for all ages with a focus on the Island, besides the gorgeous hand-blown glassware and furniture with glass hardware made by Alan Cottle. They are open Wednesday through Sunday, 1–6 pm, and will be open through the fall; sorry, no phone working there at the moment.

The Fisher extended family.
The Fisher extended family.

We stopped at Squibby for a dog walk with our Santa Fe visitors and someone who recognized the dogs came up and said hello. Turns out that Cookie (Margo) Martin, who is renting a house with a nearly identical address to our own (a package mix-up was how we met), is here in Chilmark for three weeks with her family. There are 40 family members, renting six houses, all in Chilmark except one, and all are related to Ernest and Doris Fisher, who started out camping in Gay Head and Chilmark nearly 40 years ago. The family spans from 10 months old to Ernest, 92 years young. We hope that everyone had another great summer stay; how lucky they are to share their summers!

On Saturday afternoon Jay Lagemann’s 2009 sculpture “Family – Presidential Welcome,” was moved into the middle of Beetlebung Corner. I had not seen it before and when driving past at 6 pm, pulled over, got out of my car and snapped a few pictures. Thursday, August 21, join sculptors Jay Lagemann and Duncan Niederlitz at their Open Studio from 5 – 7 pm, at 18 Wequobosque, a 1/2 mile on the left past Beetlebung Corner. For more information: or 508-560-0151.

I hope the Obamas will try Chilmark Tavern or they really are missing out on some of the best food offered on Island. My family will be going back this week with our Santa Fe friends and I can’t wait to try what I missed on our first visit. I spotted a really cool Willys parked at Chilmark General Store this week with Ohio plates. I was not gregarious enough to inquire on the packed porch who the owner was and have not seen it since.

The Flanders Field Softball Most Valuable Player was awarded last Sunday to Ed Edgar with much pomp and circumstance. Also the Howie Hustle Award was given to two players this year — Ted Sattler and Caleb Caldwell. Congratulations to all. Games continue Sunday mornings at 8 am through Labor Day.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum Chief Curator Bonnie Stacy is coming to the Chilmark Library to talk about her new book “Martha’s Vineyard,” including fascinating facts, stories, and photographs of the many varied facets of Vineyard life through the 19th century from seafaring families to farm life, to Hollywood filming, on Wednesday, August 27 at 5 pm.

Valerie SonnenthalSummer movie on Menemsha Beach with Sylvia Earle and Bob Nixon, Backyard Bash on a gorgeous evening enjoyed by families and all ages, Chilmark Road Race with more runners than ever, the First Family nestled into their vacation digs, hearing Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Foundation founder and president Dr. John Aucott speak at an informal gathering, one of my sons returning from a summer semester in Poland and one off camping in New Hampshire, dancing in Built on Stilts, girlfriends from Rockland County, N.Y., visiting — it’s the August blur under the Supermoon and Perseid meteor showers. It’s time to start thinking about the Ag Fair, what to enter, and enjoying the myriad of offerings all over our Island.

The other morning in Menemsha I spotted a woman standing by the creek working on a small canvas, fog making the world of this painter a timeless quiet. It was Karen Cuchel, an artist and teacher born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She works plein air whether at home (still in Brooklyn) or every summer when she, her husband, writer/teacher Jason Dubow, and their kids visit Chilmark, a family tradition started by his parents over 30 years ago. Also our sons will share a common experience, The Mountain School, a one-semester program for high school juniors — we wish Ari Dubow a great semester.

Kara Taylor’s last gallery opening of the summer season is her NIGHT exhibit Sunday, August 17, from 5 to 8 pm. Come see her newest work; I know she’s been busy painting every day. For more information, 508-332-8171.

Last dinner (7 pm) and a movie (8 pm) in Chilmark is “Art and Craft,” a documentary about Mark Landis who has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in U.S. history, though he donated his work to museums under the ruse of being a philanthropist. Come meet Mark Landis on Wednesday, August 20.  For tickets and information,

The Chilmark Public Library gets serious this week with author/activist Rebecca Gordon, a professor at University of San Francisco, discussing her new book, “Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post 9/11 United States” on Wednesday, August 20, at 5 pm. Catch West Tisbury author John Hough Jr. discussing his new novel “Little Bighorn” on Thursday, August 21, at 5 pm.

The last session of Author Lecture Series at the Chilmark Community Center offers three masterful memoirists discussing writing their personal stories. Come hear Gail Sheehy, Richard Hoffman, Katie Hafner moderated by Alexandra Styron on Thursday, August 21, 7:30 pm. Tickets available at and the CCC (M-F, 9-12 only). The last Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society concert will be Carol Wincenc on flute, Jay Campbell on cello, Delores Stevens on piano, playing J.S. Bach’s Duo from the “Well Tempered Clavier,” and other works by Gabriella Lena Frank and Jake Heggie.

All Chilmark Community Center programs and classes run through August 15. The Chilmark Flea Market runs through Saturday, August 30. Remember, Chilmark Chocolates is now closed until September 4. You can still take yoga and dance classes through September 7 at The Yard. Lobster Rolls to Go at the Chilmark Church runs Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7 pm through September 9, and yoga at the church with Primo Lombardi on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:15 am runs through August 28.

Got Chilmark news? Contact Valerie here.

Valerie SonnenthalLife is buzzing in Chilmark. Can’t even pull into parking lots, local eggs are sold out by noon, and the bulletin board at Chilmark Store has no space left. I stopped there for breakfast last week in the rain and the porch was full. Laurie David and a friend in one corner, Doug Liman, Wendy Weldon, James Langlois, and others happily huddled under cover and enjoying morning coffee clutches. Monday brought back sunshine, and once again we are finding deer ticks after walking our dogs. Please remember to check yourselves and loved ones thoroughly. Take it slow on the roads and be sure not to cut off the Presidential motorcade.

Congratulations to Chilmark’s own Nancy Slonim Aronie, celebrating the 25th anniversary of her Chilmark Writing Workshop. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity. You will be happy you decided to give it try. I did her workshop during my second year living here and look forward to attending again soon.

The Allen Farm, Martha’s Vineyard’s oldest continuously working family farm, is hosting the 17th Annual Water Tasting by the Sea, Thursday, August 7, 2014, 5:30- 7:30 pm. A silent auction, raffle, and live music complete the event to benefit Vineyard House, sober housing for Islanders in early recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Call 508-693-8580 for tickets or buy online.

If you are starting grades 6 -12 it is not too late to enter the Elisa Brickner Annual Poetry Contest, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Poems are due August 11. Winning entries receive $200 first prizes or $100 for 2nd and 3rd prizes! For details stop by or call the library: (508-645-3360) or check

Come hear Alan Dershowitz, 75, Chilmark’s favorite resident scholar, and Lucinda Franks, radical hippie and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who married New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in 1977, speak about their memoirs on Sunday, August 10, 7:30 pm. Richard North Patterson will discuss the last book in his Martha’s Vineyard trilogy, “Eden in Winter,” a psychological and family drama mostly set in Chilmark. Both at the Chilmark Community Center. Tickets available at or at CCC (M-F, 9 am–12 pm only).

It is the last chance to join Roberta Kirn for a Community Sing at The Yard, Tuesday, August 12, 5–6 pm. All are welcome, no experience necessary. Free.

Learn about Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Campaign at the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association Annual Reception, August 12, 5–8 pm, Old Town Hall, 65 State Road, Aquinnah. Free.

Don’t miss art historian Henry Adams’s talk about artist Thomas Hart Benton’s work and legacy on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, August 13, 5 pm. Benton made Chilmark his second home for nearly five decades, until his death in 1975. Sponsored by the Chilmark Historical Commission and Friends of the Chilmark Public Library.

Baseball lovers will enjoy Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s Dinner (7 pm) and a Movie (8 pm) featuring “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” with director Chapman Way and producer Juliana Lembi Wednesday, August 13, at the community center. This heartwarming and hilarious film documents one of the great true stories about America’s underdogs — in this case, the Portland Mavericks of 1973. For information goto

Bill Edison reports that when Ed Eger comes from California to Flanders Field, he is known as the best home run hitter since the Dave Flanders reign. Too bad for Ed. After hitting a tremendous drive headed over Pasture Road, his 20-something son, Will ,was waiting for the catch, robbing his dad of a sure home run.

Got Chilmark news? Contact Valerie here.

Enos Ray's jazz paintings greeted you at the Herbs house this past Friday. — Valerie Sonnenthal

Two years ago, driving by the Vineyard Gardens sign “Gallery in the Garden tonight,” I put on my blinker and turned in to their parking lot. Getting out of the car I could hear music and see a world I wanted to visit.

Deborah Hale, seated, looked on as strollers stopped to take in her unique pottery pieces.
Deborah Hale, seated, looked on as strollers stopped to take in her unique pottery pieces.

Last summer I stopped for their Friday evening stroll, delighted to not just get a closer look at artwork by local artists whose work I have admired at the Family Planning Art Show and Featherstone, but now I could meet them, sit and chat, and look at everything. Returning to the gallery’s first Friday stroll in August, I was welcomed by the aroma of free fresh hot popcorn. I grabbed a bag and began my outdoor evening of discovery.

Each week (except during the Ag Fair, August 22) between 8 and 14 artists will present their own work in a variety of mediums. Laura Stone, manager of Vineyard Gardens, told me she cannot say exactly which artists will be at each evening stroll.

First I met Kathleen Young who repurposes old sails into unique assorted bags and pillows. She has been lucky, she said. “The Douglas family has been incredibly generous, so I’ve cleaned them out at Five Corners, that marvelous old building [in Vineyard Haven].” Kathleen moved to the Island in 1973 and raised her kids here. She sells her work at Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven, Slip 77 in Oak Bluffs, Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, and at The Cliffs in Aquinnah.

The next artisan was Vineyard Gardens’ lead foreman and landscape designer Jeremiah Brown, who started making bowls 10 years ago when his wife bought him a lathe for Christmas. After he practiced a while and taught himself how to make bowls, he sprung for a professional lathe and has been hand-crafting bowls ever since. He does not do any of the Artisans Fairs, but he tells me, “I do the Family Planning Show for sure, ‘cause I like donating to that and actually I was really successful there. I brought 15 pieces and I sold 13 of them.”  He also has a few pieces at Made MV, a new Island Artisan Cooperative in Oak Bluffs.

Bob Hammond played fiddle with Tom Hodgson on the guitar at the first Gallery in the Garden Friday stroll at Vineyard Gardens.
Bob Hammond played fiddle with Tom Hodgson on the guitar at the first Gallery in the Garden Friday stroll at Vineyard Gardens.

Across the gravel path is Scott Campbell of Vineyard Pottery. Scott built the outdoor kiln at Featherstone Center for the Arts and oversaw annual firings for many years, and has a long history of teaching pottery and ceramics at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and Featherstone. He creates both functional and sculptural pottery in stoneware and porcelain, ranging from whimsical garden sculpture to elegant and practical crocks, platters, lamps, and dinnerware. It is difficult not to find something of use among Scott’s offerings.

In the middle of the gardens were musicians Bob Hammond on fiddle and Tom Hodgson playing guitar. Each week core group members of The Flying Elbows, to which Bob and Tom both belong, will play music and have CDs available for purchase. Guest musician Brian Weiland, whose “Misfits of Avalon” album just came out in June, will be a surprise visitor. On the last Friday, over the Labor Day weekend, the Bella Mira band will play English country music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A little further into the gardens were refreshments, but on the other side of the hoop house was Deborah Hale, a 35-year Island resident, and her elegant pottery. She returns for her second summer in the garden and offers unique pieces made using alternative firing techniques that she has focused on during the past year including raku, saggar, barrel firing, and horsehair.

Kathleen Young, of Vintage ReSail, explained about her unique recycled sail bags and pillows.
Kathleen Young, of Vintage ReSail, explained about her unique recycled sail bags and pillows.

The only painter in attendance was Enos Ray, dressed in a bright blue print shirt, a self-taught artist who has lived on the Vineyard since 1979 with a lot of road trips in between. Looking at his work makes me hear jazz and the blues, not just because his palette includes blue in all the work he was showing. Seeing the southern musicians and singers in his paintings makes you feel the music.

Whether you go to Vineyard Gardens before or after dinner, you’ll find an oasis of creative energy, an ideal way to begin your weekend, away from the madding crowds on Main Streets.

Gallery in the Garden, 5–8 pm, Fridays, August 8, 15, 29, Vineyard Gardens, West Tisbury. Art, flowers, hors d’oeuvres, and music. For more information, call 508-693-8511.


Several strangers come together to save a girl’s life.

Caitlin Murphy, 25, left enjoys dinner with close family friend Lila Gimbel, 10, right in Aquinnah, July 2014. — Photo courtesy of Wendy Gimbel

It was Tuesday, July 22, the last day of my brother and his kids’ visit before returning home to Germany. We had the good fortune to hire Emily, 22, the daughter of our friends Carrie Boretz and Ed Keating, as our family helper/babysitter for the nearly three weeks of their visit. At 2 pm, I would be picking Emily up at Great Rock Bight for her last afternoon with us. At 1:39 pm, I got the first of several calls from Emily. The poor cell reception made it difficult to understand what she was saying. What I was sure of was someone was stung by a bee and was having difficulty breathing. I told her I’d be right there and called 911 as soon as we hung up.

Emily Keating, lucky to be alive, enjoying being back at the beach, Chilmark, July 2014.
Emily Keating, lucky to be alive, enjoying being back at the beach, Chilmark, July 2014.

The drive from our door to the Great Rock Bight parking area is about four to five minutes. When I arrived, Emily was sitting in the chair of Land Bank attendant Richard Gleason, clearly having an allergic reaction. A woman was holding her hand, talking to her to help her keep calm while she struggled with her breathing. I let everyone know that an ambulance was on its way, and Mr. Gleason confirmed he too had called 911. As we talked to Emily I took her other hand, learned she had ridden her bike, fallen into bushes, and then got stung on the hand by a bee. She immediately began to have difficulty breathing and did not know what was happening to her.

Time always has a funny way of slowing in emergency circumstances. As we waited and Emily continued to have more difficulty breathing, the blotches and redness covering her skin became more pronounced. Two people appeared on their way from the parking area to the beach path. A girl, dressed in a short wetsuit and carrying her boogie board, stopped with her friend to find out what was going on. The girl, allergic to peanuts it turned out, said she had an EpiPen in her beach bag. It was decided that Emily needed this, now. The girl’s friend asked if we wanted her to administer the EpiPen and everyone said, “Yes, please.” The girl said, “It doesn’t hurt. I promise.” The woman holding Emily’s left hand never let go and I held Emily’s head gently against my chest and I just kept talking softly telling her to hear own voice singing. Bam went the EpiPen into her thigh. Her eyes widened and her voice, still quiet and subdued, uttered, “That really hurt!”

Instantly her skin began calming, and her breathing became easier. I pulled a scrap of paper from my bag and wrote everyone’s names down except the attendant. Annie Colangeli was holding Emily’s hand. Lila, ready for the beach, was accompanied by family friend Caitlin Murphy visiting from Chapel Hill, and both were staying with Lila’s grandparents, Wendy Gimbel and Doug Liebhavsky in Chilmark.

The ambulance arrived, the police arrived, Chilmark Fire Chief David Norton arrived. Once everyone was up to speed, the EMT got a tank of oxygen and put Emily on a gurney to move her to the ambulance. Everything seemed to move in triple-time. Annie accompanied Emily the hospital so she would not be alone when she arrived. As soon as they closed the ambulance door, I hopped in my car and drove a quarter-mile down the road until I had a strong cell signal and then called Ed, her father.

At 6:30 pm, Ed called from the hospital to say she was stable. Another EpiPen had been needed, but they had to hold her for four hours because that’s how long the bee venom would be in her system. Ed explained that the doctor had told him that Emily was in distress and would not be alive if an EpiPen had not been administered at the scene. He told me, “I was allergic to bees as a kid.”

Ed was on his way to pick his wife up at the airport and return to the hospital. Emily had never been stung before and had no one had any idea she was allergic to bee stings. I spoke with Ed again later that night once he and Carrie had taken her home and put her to bed.

The following day I left a message on Wendy Gimbel’s answering machine, wanting to find out how Lila was related to her. When Wendy returned my call she said had not heard a word about this adventure from her 10 year-old granddaughter, Lila, or Lila’s 25 year-old friend and caretaker, Caitlin. She was not surprised by their actions and explained they have had a special friendship that has developed over the last few years.

Annie Colangeli lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 17 years and had just returned days earlier for a six-week visit. She told me she had a strong feeling she should go to Great Rock Bight beach that day. As she walked from her car in the upper lot, she came upon Emily visibly in distress and seated with Mr. Gleason. Emily complained to her about the rash and “itching in her ears and eyeballs.” Annie did breathing with Emily to calm her, and of course her cell phone did not get any reception.

It turned out when I spoke with Emily’s mom, Carrie, who had been in New York on business that day, that it was the anniversary of her father’s death and she herself had had a very frightening plane ride — her own near-death experience — before arriving in Boston and learning from her husband that their younger daughter had nearly died that very day. Everyone involved stayed calm, and clearly the stars were aligned so that it proved to be a life-saving day, still each person who had a hand in Emily’s well-being was a necessary piece in this life-event unfolding.