West Tisbury
Posted January 12, 2006

By Hermine Hull - 508-693-2525 - hrmhull@gis.net

Mike and I rented a splitter from Tilton's on Saturday and spent a lovely day together working on our woodpile. The weather was perfect, bright and sunny, not freezing but not too warm. The dogs kept us company, Jake resting quietly out of the way while Talley patrolled the area looking for intruders. Grace slept inside by the woodstove. It was one of those days that makes me the happiest.

The ritual of our woodstove is one of the joys of my life. I love bringing in the wood every day, starting the fire late in the afternoon to warm up the house for Mike when he gets home. I don't mind sweeping up the messes or cleaning out the ash pan. It all seems part of every winter day. Mostly, I love the feeling of self-sufficiency, that we can heat our house by our own efforts. Like eating food from our own garden or digging compost from our own pile or hanging wash out on the line, the woodstove and the woodpile form a connection with the earth.

I know that someday Mike will win our annual argument about switching to a propane heater. I already acknowledge that he does the heaviest work, cutting down trees, hauling the wood. He used to swing a splitting maul every Sunday afternoon for many years. Renting the splitter has made that task a lot easier and freed up a lot of time. But I shall be very sad just to turn up a thermostat and pay a bill instead. The only thing I won't miss will be splinters.

I went up to the library this afternoon to hear Manny Estrella IV read stories to a packed audience in the Children's Room. Children's Librarian Nelia Decker has planned an occasional series of story times on Sunday afternoons called "Guys Read." Manny arrived dressed in his fire gear. He read five books (two about firemen) and demonstrated how the various pieces of equipment worked, how hose nozzles spray and air masks allow firemen to breathe fresh air, how heavy the helmets and protective coats are. All the kids were given their own white fire helmets from the West Tisbury Fire Department. It was great fun and I look forward to attending future programs. I'll let you know when they will be and who will be speaking. Rumor has it that a policeman, a chef, and a carpenter are among the prospective readers.

The library trustees held a party Friday evening at Glenn and Linda Hearn's house for Hallie Mentzel, who recently retired after ten years on the board. Both Hallie and Al have done so much for the library over the years, most notably their fundraising efforts that helped build our current library. They promise to remain active as Friends and friends and as my excellent advisors.

Ebba Hierta and Chuck Hodgkinson were unable to attend the library party because they were hosting friends from off-Island. Jani Benoit and Colin Grimsey, long-time friends from Providence, Rhode Island, arrived Friday to spend the weekend on Oak Lane and extend their holiday celebrations by an extra week.

Ellen Weiss e-mailed from New Orleans to tell me that she enjoyed a visit from Whit and Diana Manter, who took her out for dinner at a favorite local restaurant and also accompanied her on a two-hour walking and driving tour and lecture on New Orleans' vernacular architecture.

The 18th Annual Burns Nicht Supper will be held at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown on Friday, January 27, at 6 pm. Join West Tisbury's Jim Powell and others as they "raise a glass" in a traditional series of toasts. Call Pat Wheeler for reservations and information at 693-4026.

Town Clerk Prudy Whiting has begun mailing out forms for the town census. She would like to be notified if forms are mailed to an incorrect address or if someone has moved. Obviously, voting registration is affected, so please don't just throw the form away.

My condolences to Ann Howes and her family for the loss of Ted Howes. He had been ill for some time. Ted was always so proud of Ann and her accomplishments. I can see his face beaming as he told me about a new painting or an award she had won. There will be a memorial gathering at Howes House on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 2 to 4 pm, to celebrate his life.

Condolences also to Al and Hallie Mentzel. Hallie's cousin, Susan Deutscher, died last week in New York. Susan was a wonderful artist whose work was a combination of watercolor and collage. She was also a warm and charming woman I enjoyed knowing.

My friend, Brooks Robards, will be coming from Northampton to stay with Mike and me midweek. She will be interviewing artists for stories in the Times, and will hopefully have time for a walk on the beach with Talley and me. When Brooks is here in the summer, that is a weekly occasion; this time of year, it will be a special treat.