Authors Posts by Valerie Sonnenthal

Valerie Sonnenthal

Valerie Sonnenthal

Colin Ruel and Nettie Kent got married last weekend. – Photo courtesy of Colin Ruel

Last Thursday, my husband and I beat the rain to the Island, making our way home from NYC through awful bouts of thunderstorms. So just a reminder to be safe in the bad weather — we passed close to 20 accidents, adding two hours to the drive!

When I went to the bank on Friday and saw all the doors open to the CCC, I wandered over to peek in at the preparations for the wedding of Barbara and John Armstrong’s son, artist Colin Ruel, to native West Tisbury jeweler Nettie Kent, daughter of artist Doug Kent. I do not know any of the family, but had seen Barbara’s offer for free tulle on MV Stuff for Sale. The bride and groom were doing everything themselves, with the help of those nearest and dearest, putting finishing touches on transforming the CCC into a tulle-festive hall, while the entrance area was set up with tables for a buffet using an assortment of unique antique plates borrowed from friends. “Oh my, only 24 hours until the wedding,” the bride sighed, and then returned to her to-do list. I hope grandparents Jim and Roberta Morgan, all 200 family and guests, and bride and groom had a fantastic wedding outside in Menemsha, followed by a joyous evening of dancing and celebration.

So glad to be able to continue swimming, seeing the leaves change and still have the sun warming my face when I wonder whether it will be the last swim of the season.

Have you ever thought about those ads that seem to follow you around the Internet and wondered who else is keeping track of your online activities? Come to the Chilmark Public Library on Saturday, October 25, at 1 pm to hear the explanation, when Internet security expert Greg Page presents “Who’s Tracking You Online? The Quiet ‘Big Data Revolution.’” During this interactive presentation, Page will talk about the positive, negative, and uncertain implications of the era of Big Data, including critical issues surrounding individual privacy and security. He will also discuss ways that individual web users can minimize their online footprint.

Support the MVRHS Minnesingers Silent and Live Auction Benefit, Saturday, October 25, 6–9 pm, at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs. Tickets available at the door are $25 and include hors d’oeuvres, chowder bar, desserts and cash bar.

If you have an Island Club Card, you can get a discount on any activity at the Farm Field Sea, Island Culinary Adventure taking place Saturday and Sunday, October 25 and 26, in Menemsha and Chilmark. Be sure to check out Sunday’s cheese making class with Jacqueline Foster, head cheese maker at Grey Barn Farm and explore the history and process of cheese making. Demonstrations and hands-on class will include Ricotta Salata, Farmers’ Cheese, and how to build your own cheese cave. For more information or to reserve your spot, go to or email

The Farmer’s Market has moved indoors to the Ag Hall and will continue every Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm through December 27, except for Thanksgiving weekend. I am happy to report Josh Aronie and The Food Truck should appear beginning in November; I’ll keep you posted or you can follow them on Facebook.

The Rural Scholars from from UMass School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Nursing will be on the Island from October 19 through 30 taking a closer look at elder abuse and neglect, prevention strategies, and current services. They will present their findings and  recommendations at a meeting at the West Tisbury Public Library on Thursday, October 30, from 4:30 to 6 pm. The public is invited and encouraged to join in.

Middeltown Nursery will have a free garlic planting demo on Saturday, October 25 from 10 -11am.  Bring your garlic, questions and curiosity. A free family fun day including scarecrow making will follow from 11am – 2 pm.

Eisenman-grave-site.jpgA couple of weeks ago, John Hill (a longtime colleague and friend of my husband) and his wife, Dorothy, came to Chilmark to inter Alvin Eisenman’s ashes at Abel’s Hill Cemetery. Eisenmen had been Hill’s mentor, and his widow, Hope, was there, along with their daughter’s family and friends. Eisenman died a year ago at the age of 92. His headstone, a special black slate, was hand-carved by Nick Benson, a master of large-scale architectural inscriptions, including the National World War II Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Washington National Cathedral, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and countless others. Learn more about Nick Benson at /

Eisenman had been a summer resident of Chilmark for nearly 50 years, enjoying the house he built off North Road. Some of you reading this may have known Alvin and many not, but his influence — I would bet — has been a part of your daily lives for years without you even knowing. Alvin Eisenman started the first graduate graphic design department at a university in the United States, at Yale in 1950 after being asked by Josef Albers. Eisenman was responsible for computers coming to Yale before other schools had them, and working with GE, IBM and Apple among others. He hired the best in their fields including Paul Rand, creator of iconic corporate logos for UPS (United Parcel Service), ABC (American Broadcasting Corp.), IBM (International Business Machines), Westinghouse, and documentary photographer Walker Evans. According to’s Design New England blog, Christopher Pullman, a typographer who became WGBH’s first vice-president for design, said, “Before the Internet was Alvin.” Read Chris Pullman’s “Remembering Alvin Eisenman” in the Design Observer, about this remarkable fun-loving man who changed the face of type and graphic design and whose influence can still be felt today.

I guess the long weekend helps us get over all the closings for the season. Farewell Chilmark General Store, Chilmark Tavern, The Home Port, The Galley, The Bite, and Kara Taylor Gallery. Keeping my fingers crossed that Josh Aronie will be parking his food truck in the heart of our town soon.

If you are looking for great Chilmark cards or postcards, be sure to stop by Hellie Neumann’s photography show at Santander Bank across from the community center through October 17 or contact her at

Get ready for the MVRHS Minnesingers Silent and Live Auction Benefit on Saturday, October 25, 6–9 pm, at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs. Tickets, $25, can be purchased from any MVRHS Minnesinger or at the door and include hors d’oeuvres, chowder bar, desserts and a cash bar. The proceeds will help offset the Minnesingers’ travel expenses abroad in April 2015 where they will be performing at several venues, including local schools and churches. For more information, call 508-939-4053.

And ladies, mark your calendars now for the 34th Chilmark Women’s Symposium on Saturday, November 15, from 9 am – noon at the Chilmark Community Center. This fall’s theme is AHA! Moments, the event is free, but donations are welcome to cover expenses.

The Barnes-Klaunig family at Grey Barn.

Michael Barnes (the farm manager at Grey Barn) and his partner Lindsay Klaunig (the cheesemaker) wanted their son Elias to grow up "surrounded by animals and nature." So far, so good. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

As I walked out of the farmstand at Grey Barn after picking up some milk, I couldn’t stop staring at a rugged man holding his joyous naked son in his hands. He carefully placed him down in the grass to crawl around with a small gaggle of geese. I went over and introduced myself to Michael, Lindsay, and Elias. It has been six months since Michael Barnes moved to Martha’s Vineyard in April to take over as the new farm manager at The Grey Barn in Chilmark. He moved here with Lindsay Klaunig, his partner in life, and their newborn son, Elias. I ask if he grew up on a farm and Michael says, “I grew up all over the place.” He tells me, “I was born in Oklahoma, moved to New Mexico and lived there about ten years (through high school in Santa Fe), and moved to Oregon for community college in Bend and stayed there a couple years after that.” Despite not living on a farm growing up, Michael and his family grew vegetables and raised chickens (for meat) in the backyard, and always composted.

Elias at home with the ducks at Grey Barn. – photo by Valerie Sonnenthal
Elias at home with the ducks at Grey Barn. – photo by Valerie Sonnenthal

At age 35, after completing an undergraduate education at Colorado State University, and stints on various farms around the West, Michael rode his bicycle across the country and found a farm in Indiana that he would return to, eventually meeting Lindsay, who came on board as the farm’s cheesemaker. The couple moved to Idaho, then, after Elias’s birth, found themselves working 80 hours a week, with no days off, and realized they needed to make a change. They tell me they “started thinking about the best scenarios for Elias to grow up in, and began looking for a safe, clean outdoor environment surrounded by animals and nature.” Michael saw the job at Grey Barn on Martha’s Vineyard on an agricultural jobs website; deciding to take the job was an easy decision.

Michael oversees 70 acres of grazing and hay, of which 20 acres will be certified organic next year. Grey Barn has 31 adult milk cows grazing, 4 beef cows, and raises 50 – 60 hogs on whey, a cheese by-product, all sold locally. Michael tells me, “One of the reasons I chose this job is I like diverse farms — poly-cultural layered agriculture that maximizes all waste streams on the farm.”

Michael takes a break to have lunch with Lindsay and Elias. –Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
Michael takes a break to have lunch with Lindsay and Elias. –Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

A typical day on the farm for Michael starts with a 5:30 am alarm. He’ll have a quick breakfast, then head out to stock the farm store with milk, then move and feed the chickens. Then he sets up the milking parlor to milk the cows, heads out to move the cows from the field up to the parlor and by 7:15, he’s milking them in the parlor.  By 9:30 am Michael, he’s finished milking and cleaning the milk house. Next he feeds the pigs, checks on all of the animals, their water and fencing. Then it’s time to look at the previous day’s grazing to make sure the cows are getting the right amount of food from the fields. He’ll take down fencing from the previous day’s paddocks and set up new paddocks for the milking and dry cow herd. The rest of of the morning, until lunchtime, is focused on a small task to-do list that usually includes fixing something broken — a constant farm reality. After lunch with Lindsay and Elias, he will finish up as much as he can on his list, order materials, and do inventory. Around 2:00 pm it’s time to wash bottles for milk, feed and water the pigs again, collect eggs, set up the milking parlor, get the cows and milk around 4:15 pm. After cleaning the parlor and milk house, moving the cows and feeding the chickens, Michael can call it a day.

With the driest September on record in 57 years, Michael has had to organize a rotation and “extend the season a little bit. The animals are back on pasture, but that’ll all change in a week.” He admits that he is more at home now, even though he has not had much time to explore or get off the farm yet. Michael takes another call from the driver of 70-foot-long semi on its way to deliver hay, and I let him get on with his pressing duties.

Lindsay is one of the most relaxed new mothers I have ever met. She grew up in suburban Indianapolis and tells me she tried Indiana University for a year and then “went out to Washington state to pick blueberries on a whim through WWOOF [World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms].” When the season was over she “got a job flipping cheese” and loved it. The next year through WWOOF she took an apprenticeship in New Jersey, making cheese at a primitive cheese plant where no PH meters or thermometers were used, and acidity was tested by tasting the whey. She continues, “It was a good first experience; should a PH meter break, the power go out and you do not have a thermometer, I could still make cheese.” She spent a year there before moving on to manage a creamery making eight different kinds of bleu cheese in Washington, an experience “that committed [her] to cheese.” She spent a couple of years traveling to Romania, Transylvania, and South America to learn local cheese-making, before returning and concentrating solely on cheesemaking at Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont, where she was “mentored by Peter Dixon, the Johnny Appleseed of cheese.”

She returned to a farm in Indiana and “ got to develop cheeses myself and do a line of cheeses,” and met Michael, the farm’s manager.

Neither Michael nor Lindsay had history on Martha’s Vineyard. Much of Lindsay’s family lives in New Jersey. Her twin sister has visited twice from Maui, and she looks forward to family and friends joining her and Michael and Elias on-Island for Thanksgiving. Lindsay consults on cheese to an upstate New York and a Montana creamery and works with sales at Grey Barn when she is not looking after Elias. Her newest project is growing mushrooms in their basement.

Now that the season is over, Lindsay enjoys being able to park and not having to defend herself against crowds, visiting beaches with Elias and enjoying “the glorious fall weather.” One happy find is an apple tree. She has prepared all their vegetables for the winter and admitted they already have their turkey in the freezer. The Island is a welcome change from the winters of Idaho, and the family looks forward to getting to know their new home, neighbors and sharing their skills with local farmers and new friends.

Kosher Turkeys This Thanksgiving

The Grey Barn and Farm is bringing a rabbi to the Island to perform a Kosher slaughter. If you are interested in reserving a Kosher turkey email or call 508-645-4854.

Dolly Campbell's husband, Bruce, built shelves that allow natural light to pass through her bottle collection. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Kay Dixon, a childhood Vineyard summer friend, is visiting Dolly Campbell when I arrive. She now comes annually, has just arrived, and always looks forward to revisiting Dolly’s collections and discovering what has been added. Getting to revisit all these objects makes her feel the same at-home comfort year after year. It would be impossible to miss Dolly’s collections — they fill shelving specially-built by her husband, Bruce, so her bottle collection can have natural light from the windows pass through them; old handmade herb choppers ring the uppermost walls around the kitchen; assorted animals can be found on the floor throughout her home, one-inch high handmade wooden birds extend over three windows sitting above the upper casing in the dining room, walls are hung with family portraits and collected favorites. There is so much to see, the eye must focus on one group, whether slab tiles made by Heather Goff or antique books lining shelves: it is just not possible to take it all in at once, so Dolly and I start in her kitchen.

Multi-colored bottles — pale amethyst, reds, assorted blues, dark green — come from as far away as New Zealand. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Multi-colored bottles — pale amethyst, reds, assorted blues, dark green — come from as far away as New Zealand. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Dolly grew up in Southport, Conn., in a neighborhood referred to as Fertile Acres, “because everyone was having babies [and] loved retail,” she says. “I’d go around the house and pick things up, then set up a little table outside the house and sell them. One time I sold my father’s wallet to the next-door neighbor for a quarter. He had to go and buy it back for a dollar because it still had money in it.” Dolly remembers seeing a photo story when she was married of Jackie Onassis’s New York City apartment —  all the tables were filled with family objects and mementos — and loving how it looked. She adopted the style as her own and rearranged objects in her grandmother’s house in West Chop, where she was living while her own home was being built.

Dolly started going to yard sales and limited her collecting to the Island, though the idea of stopping at thrift shops and antique stores off-Island appeals to her now. The only problem, she says, is where to put things. Dolly retired from 15 years of co-managing the Chicken Alley Thrift Shop in 2011. There, she purchased many treasured objects and kept her collecting spirit always ignited. She loves the varied shapes and forms of the no-two-alike herb choppers lining two sides of her kitchen walls just below the ceiling. She has an antique glass jar filled with sea glass, which she realizes is the first thing she ever collected and pieces go back to her childhood. Dolly admits there is more sea glass squirreled away in her basement. Her Vineyard Haven home is filled with many inherited collections, including family portraits in oil, sterling silver tea service from the early 1900s, furniture, old books — including Trollope and Dickens — that her husband Bruce collects.

Her bottle collection has mostly been purchased through thrift shop finds and includes unusual colors — a pale amethyst, reds, assorted blues, dark green, besides an array of clear bottles. She takes down one of her favorites that she brought home from a New Zealand stay with her son’s family. Although it looks old, it is a contemporary bottle that reminds me of Japanese Ramune soda bottles that have a glass marble inside sitting above the pinched neck. She told me that people break the glass to get the marbles out. I notice the jar of dice and she exclaims, “I love dice.”

Dolly loves many things. We continue from the dining room to the living room where I learn all the boat paintings and prints she found as presents for her husband over the years. One particularly large port scene painting came from the Foster estate which is now the Lambert’s Cove Inn, and hangs over the sofa in the middle of the living room. Dolly says, “Mr. Foster was a bachelor who traveled all over the world. He died and the bank took over and had a big open house. I think this was in the late 60’s. You see this is a Claude Lorrain look-a-like.” In fact it is a copy of his Port Scene with the Villa Medici from 1637 that hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy.

Dolly co-managed the Chicken Alley Thrift store for 15 years and found lots of treasures there. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Dolly co-managed the Chicken Alley Thrift store for 15 years and found lots of treasures there. —Photo by Michael Cummo

On the mantel there are two lovely metal sculptures of dancers, both thrift shop purchases. I notice two Chinese cloisonné vases on the floor in front of one of the bookcases filled with mostly antique books. Dolly admits, “I used to collect vases, but ran out room for them because they take up too much space. I’ve given a lot of them away.” We go into the front hall and I fall in love with the animal door stops along a wall. There are antique boat prints and my favorite, I learn, was purchased on their honeymoon in New Hampshire — a large print of White Star’s Oceanic, the first ocean liner ever built.

Upstairs, the master bedroom’s walls are filled like the Louvre from the ceiling to floor with assorted paintings. One painter whose work Dolly has been buying for years is Claudio Gasparini, originally from Italy and since 1984 a seasonal Martha’s Vineyard resident, who has an annual show at The Granary Gallery. In one corner of the bedroom is a mirrored dressing table that once belonged to Island philanthropist and dear friend Molly McAlpin. Dolly has adorned it with necklaces, finds and family photos. I’ve been escorted through every room in the house including the bathrooms and then Dolly says, “Well, there’s lots to look at outside as well.” Her garden meanders up and down around the house and out to a very large koi pond. I could call it Dolly’s Folly: it reminds me of English gardens that were created to look as though built around ancient ruins. I love the sculptures and especially the dog house, House of Coco which, yes Dolly bought at a yard sale and hopes to restore some day.

Lisa Levart on shoot with Francesca Kelly. —Photo by Myles Aronowitz
Lisa Levart —Photo by Myles Aronowitz
Lisa Levart —Photo by Myles Aronowitz

Thirty years ago, a photographer got in touch with me when I was running the gallery at New York City’s Dance Theater Workshop, and sent me — by mail — some 35mm slides of her handmade photographic collages. Her name was Lisa Levart, and since 2002, she has been photographing women dressed as goddesses from creeds and mythologies of cultures around the world.

I met Lisa again in Rockland County, New York, where she and her husband, photographer Myles Aronowitz, continue to live. Our lives intersected again, most recently, on Martha’s Vineyard. In August, Lisa came for a visit with a mutual friend, artist and filmmaker Katherine Matheson. While running around with both ladies, I needed to make a stop at my friend Francesca Kelly’s home, and wanted Lisa to meet her as a potential goddess for her ongoing project. In the few minutes we spent together, Lisa and Francesca loosely agreed to a September shoot. We enjoyed our days together, and Lisa returned to New York. Then, in late September, Lisa got a cancellation and had an opening in her schedule. She travelled back to the Vineyard to photograph Francesca.

Francesca Kelly made it her mission to save the indigenous horse of India by founding Marwari Bloodlines with Raguvendra Singh in 1995 “to preserve, promulgate and promote the Marwari horse in India and abroad.” So when searching for a goddess for Francesca to portray, Lisa and Francesca agreed upon Sheravali, “one of many names attributed to the Goddess Durga, the goddess of power and her most common appellation in Rajasthan.” Francesca explained, her “given name in Rajasthan is Goravali, she who rides horses, [while] Sheravali translates literally as “she who rides the lion.’” Francesca offered to include her Indian groom, Sushil, in the photo with her. Lisa, who had never photographed horses before, was thrilled.

Rose Styron and her daughter Paola pose as Demeter and Persephone at Lucy Vincent Beach. —Photo by Lisa Levart
Rose Styron and her daughter Paola pose as Demeter and Persephone at Lucy Vincent Beach. —Photo by Lisa Levart

The Sheravali shoot was not Lisa’s first “goddess” experience on the Vineyard. She first came to Martha’s Vineyard in 2007, to photograph Rose Styron and her daughter Paola. Other Vineyarders included in her work are actress Suzanne Douglass, and interior decorator Jan Hilliard. All of Lisa’s subjects choose “to embody a goddess who has contemporary meaning in their lives.” The choice was easy for Rose and her daughter; they decided to portray the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone at Lucy Vincent beach. Their portrait, as well as those of the other 75 women included in Lisa’s book, Goddess on Earth, published in 2011, and winner of the Gold Nautilus Book Award, create a visual celebration of wisdom, courage and personal strength inspired by history’s most ancient myths.

“More and more contemporary women are enthusiastically embracing those myths as they seek to tackle life’s obstacles,” Lisa said.

Lisa’s photographs are of women ages 8-99, including doctors, designers, authors, filmmakers, psychiatrists, actresses, and students. She explores and captures how everyday women are inspired to heal, thrive, and embrace their own personal power through their connections with sacred myths. With tenacity, determination, and passion, Lisa has followed her dream of creating beautiful works of art both in her book and public multi-media installations. In 2012, Lisa began writing a regular goddess column for the Huffington Post.

On Tuesday night, before Lisa headed home, we all met for dinner at State Road, and the first edits of the portraits were unveiled. “I want to tell the story of the myth and your interpretation of it with your words,” Lisa said as she showed Francesca the photos on her Kindle.

Although there are countless images to choose from, Lisa hones in on only three images for her final edit, choosing the photos that most reflect the power of the goddess as interpreted by her subject. “I really spend a long time on each image, pulling my color out, deepening the sky,” she said. “It is not a quick process.”

“Their physicality is very important to the picture,” Lisa said of the horses.

Francesca concurred: “Horses are very hard to photograph.” In one image, they both agree the beauty comes from the “horse movement,” in another “the colors are beautiful because the horse is still, the water is still.”

“Wow,” the women at the table said as they passed it around. “That’s beautiful.” “That’s amazing.”

To learn more about Lisa Levart’s work, or to purchase her book, visit

So thankful for the rains and once again the sun shining away the fall chill a little bit longer — good for us swimmers. What an amazing Harvest Fest this year — celebration, community, information, delicious offerings, music and enthusiasm for our collective future. I finally had the chance to purchase a couple of copies of the Gay Head poetry book in support of moving the lighthouse and got to see my poem in print. I was honored to be included as one of the poets reading at the celebration for our new MV Poet Laureate Arnie Reisman on Tuesday. My to-do list is still spilling over and this week we got to try fried apples brought by a southern guest, a mince-meat pie (mostly apples), and an apple caramel walnut and pecan crustless pie which may be our Thanksgiving offering.

Belated birthday wishes to Steven Fischer who celebrated his 39th birthday along with his family and friends at The Home Port on Saturday night.

Several Chilmark artists, including Elizabeth Germain, with her Blessed Rosemary Oil, Suzy Zell, with her handwoven cotton towels, Maria Hurwitz with her subconscious landscape altars, will be offering their creations at SHINE, a benefit sale on October 11 – 13, from 10 am – 8 pm at 129 Indian Hill Road (first mailbox past Christiantown Road ) in West Tisbury. Portions of the sales will benefit the documentary film project, The Same Heart, which proposes a way to end child poverty. Filmmakers Len and Georgia Morris and Petra Lent McCarron will show excerpts from their film and be on hand to answer questions about the project:

Saturday, October 11, is the last Farmer’s Market in West Tisbury before it moves indoors at the Ag Hall beginning October 18 through December 27, from 9 am to 12 noon.

Native Earth Teaching Farm is holding their Popcorn Festival on Sunday, October 12, 10 am–3 pm, including goats, games, food and fiber. Free popcorn and free admission.

October 13 is the last day to visit the Gay Head Lighthouse in its present location before being moved in April 2015.

This is the last weekend to enjoy eating at The Galley, have a quiet romantic dinner overlooking Menemsha, open to 7:30ish pm Saturday night. Don’t miss out on the best fried clams at The Bite, also closing after the long weekend.

Get “BUZZD” at the Chilmark Public Library Wednesday, October 15, at 5 pm with local author Michael West and honey-maker Monica Miller, who may or may not be the character Maya in Michael’s latest book, BUZZD – The Bee Kill Conspiracy. Michael says, “We want people to think about bees and what we are doing to the planet’s — and our Island’s — ecology with herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and GMOs. That’s why I wrote BUZZD.” For more information, please call 508-645-3360.

Have a good long weekend.

A photo by Hellie Neumann, whose work will be exhibited at Santander Bank in Chilmark.

We are thankful for the rain, the sun, and the apple tree, and so much more this first week of autumn. When I moved to the Island someone told me, “As long as the weather is good you should spend as much time as possible outside; don’t worry, winter is coming and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.” Well, I don’t know if I ever feel caught up, but I do as he said and try to make the most of the weather. I have tried many new apple recipes to keep up with the harvest from our one tree: apple pancake, apple muffins, and sour cream apple soufflé cockaigne, and this week applesauce and sour cream apple pies are on my to-do list.

Join Hellie Neumann at her photography show opening on Friday, Oct. 3 from 4 pm to 6 pm. If you miss the reception, stop by until Oct. 17th at the Santander Bank in Chilmark. Hellie has taken photos of sunrise at Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket every morning for over a year. There are greeting cards, postcards, and matted and framed prints for sale. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to M.V. Helping Homeless Animals, the shelter where Hellie adopted her pup, who is the inspiration for getting up predawn and getting down to the beach.

Nan Doty is offering Qi Gong sessions on Tuesdays from 8 to 9 am and Fridays from 9:30 to 10:30 am, followed by tea for those who can stay. Sessions take place in the community room in the back of the Chilmark Church on Menemsha Crossroad. If you need directions, please email Nan. Session cost is $10. If you are interested in a Thursday session at the Chilmark Church from 8 to 9 am, with tea afterward, please let Nan know. Also please note that Nan is introducing a new Qi Gong Tai Chi class on Thursdays at 10 am at the Anchors in Edgartown. If you need directions, please email Nan at

There are two ways to help Save the Gay Head Lighthouse this weekend. Participate in Cycle Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 8:30 am, P.A. Club, Oak Bluffs. The ride also benefits other Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard charities. See for more information. Or run in the 2nd Gay Head 10K on Sunday, Oct. 5, 10 am, Aquinnah Circle. For more information, call 508-645-9364 or go to

If you are looking for something to do with your little ones, the Chilmark library offers stories and songs at 10:30 am on Tuesdays and Saturdays weekly. And don’t forget Pizza Night, every Tuesday at 6 pm, through Nov. 25 at the Chilmark Community Church. Yes, it’s free.

Don’t miss the Living Local Harvest Festival at the M.V. Ag Hall from 10 am to 10 pm this Saturday, Oct. 4. There are free movies, a pig roast, and so many presentations and displays. Check for all the happenings.

ACE MV fall classes start the week of Oct. 6th, so register now online at Avoid a late fee for registering on the first day of class.

Remember Chilmark Chocolates will be closed Oct. 6 – 30. And lastly, the Chilmark General Store is no longer open on Tuesdays.

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Peggy Freydberg poses with Nancy Aronie at a recent celebration of Ms. Freydberg's poetry. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

On August 28 I got an email from Nancy Aronie that read, “Peggy Freydberg is 106, sharp as a tack, and still writing. Her work is moving and powerful. One day I said, ‘Peggy, how come you aren’t famous?’ She said, ‘I don’t know. I would have liked that.’ This is my tiny offering to give her some of that. I’ll pass around her books and we’ll read her work.”

Having attended Peggy’s reading of her own work at the Chilmark library in 2010, I responded “yes” immediately, and when asked if I minded doing a cold reading, said I would love to. Between August 28 and the scheduled reading on Sept. 16, Nancy fretted every time she heard a siren go off in Chilmark, fearing it might be an ambulance for Peggy. Recently, Nancy had several experiences when her inner voice told her she should get in touch with someone, and she delayed.

The afternoon reading on Sept. 16 brought a mix of attendees, all of whom had the opportunity to read Peggy’s work to her. When it was over, Peggy said, “I’ve wondered why I lived to be 106. Now I know, so I could have this experience.” Later she told Nancy, “The word ‘thank you’ is so trite. I cannot thank you enough, I had the day of my life.”

Fan Ogilvie reflected afterward, “Her poetry became so alive because of her voice as song, not speech.” Arnie Reisman feels “Peggy Freydberg is a Martha’s Vineyard monument, a writer of incredible insight who thankfully found her poetic voice 15 years ago at the age of 91. Reading her words to her was a wonderful event of the heart.” Doreen Beinart wrote Nancy that she “can’t wait to savor all her poems. Wondrous language and thoughts.” Paula Lyons “was stunned by the humanity, universality, and delightful precision of word and wordplay in Peggy’s poetry.” She “bought both books that were offered, and [knows] they will become permanent favorites.”

To purchase copies of Peggy Freydberg’s two poetry books, contact Nancy Aronie at

Six-year-old Sevanna Sroczenski got up on her first try.

I love September. The swimming is good, the weather sunny, the garden bountiful, great starry night skies, and getting back into the off-season groove. Pam Goff said the Chilmark Church is thankful to Lia Kahler for raising a substantial portion of the funds needed for the steeple and cross repair, and the afternoon and auction all went well. Pizza nights will resume Tuesdays at 6 pm beginning Sept. 30 at the Fellowship Hall behind the church at 9 Menemsha Crossroad. All ages welcome.

Thanks go out to Nancy Aronie, who organized a lovely reading of poems for Peggy Freydberg. It was an absolute pleasure to participate. And looking forward to sharing her wonderful work with the larger world!

Sandra Balfe of Wrentham was visiting her aunt and uncle, Tom and Helen Black, in Edgartown when she found the flyer for the first Surf Night on M.V. She wrote me, “It was a dream come true. I have visited Squibnocket often and loved watching the surfers, never thinking I would have the chance to try the sport. It was amazing that the surf community came out to help celebrate the ocean with regular folks and it was all free!” Sandra says she “was totally thrilled to stand up three times.” She loved being cheered on by the entire beach, and sends a big “thank you to all of the instructors!” She hopes this becomes an annual event, because she is hooked.

Thomas Bena thanks Ari Lurie for teaming up with MVFF to create the first Surf Night on M.V. And a huge shout-out to all of the instructors who spent four hours in the water passing on the surf stoke! Craig Spa Tharpe, Katahdin Fitzgerald, Mollie Doyle, Daniel, Paul, Ben Martin, Jamie Green, Ari Lurie, Calder Martin, and to the amazing staff, Brian Ditchfield, Cassie Dana, Hilary Dreyer, Chris Mara, Anthony Esposito, and to Max Simon and all of the volunteers. And then there is Morning Glory Farm, Whippoorwill Farm, and Alex Karalekas for the food and the fish and the music. And thank you to Elaine Barse/Green Room, the Boneyard, and 6k6 for the free boards!! And finally, thank you to the Dock Dance Band for nailing it — if you haven’t heard them yet, check out one of their weekly shows in Edgartown.

My favorite part of the weekend was the amazing Iron Pour at Featherstone, organized by native Islander artist Kate Madeiros (MVRHS ’07). What an incredible community feat she pulled off. Keep an eye on this wonderful artist.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Chilmark resident Beach (Beatrice Phillips) Bennett, beloved wife of Bill Bennett and unstoppably great mother of Bella Bennett, who passed away peacefully on Sept. 17. A celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury from 2 pm to 5 pm. Feel free to bring a dessert to share.

Drop by the ACE MV Course Sampling Fair, Wednesday, Oct. 1 at MVRHS from 5 pm to 6:30 pm. Meet the teachers, register for classes (36 different classes being offered), and sample delicious food prepared by ACE cooking instructors. I will once again be teaching a Hand and Foot Fitness class for five weeks. For more info, call Diane Abbot at 508-693-9222 or visit

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.