West Tisbury
Posted February 16, 2006

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

What a difference from last week! Temperatures in the 50's to temperatures in the 20's, snowdrops blooming to a foot of real snow covering the ground, sneakers and sweaters to snow-boots, parkas, hats and gloves.

Sunday's snowstorm was beautiful. I love being snowed in, that wonderful feeling of being safe and warm as the weather rages outside. Mike and I had ventured forth in white-out conditions for our usual Sunday morning breakfast. By the time we returned home, the paper had been delivered to the end of our driveway, and the sofa beckoned.

When I was a child my parents, both pharmacists, owned a Mom-and-Pop drugstore in Ridgefield, Conn. Smith Pharmacy was open seven days a week from 8 am to 9 pm, closing at 1 in the afternoon on Sundays. So, except for breakfasts and Sunday dinner, we were never together at home, unless there was a storm so severe that the whole town shut down. The worst natural disasters, hurricanes and blizzards, have always been among the best of my childhood memories. They were the times when I felt the safest and happiest, surrounded by both of my parents with their full attention.

Looking back on those times from the perspective of an adult, I am somewhat shocked. My mother brought up from the cellar an old Sterno stove that she would set up in the living room to cook on. Dad built a fire in the fireplace and we would all sit around on a blanket on the floor eating tuna fish or grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup, reading aloud, and playing games. We called them "snow picnics." There were candles on the mantle and all around the picnic blanket. It seemed very cheery. Now that I am the grown-up and the wife of a fireman, I am amazed that our house never burned down; it was an old house and I remember a rug in the living room. Imagine it all with the candles and Sterno stove and us kids running around! Happily, nothing bad ever happened and I still cherish those times when the wind blew the lights out, thunder and lightening roared and flashed, and the snow piled up outside our door.

Snow shoveling is still a favorite job. I remember doing it with my father, first at home then walking downtown together to clear the wide sidewalk in front of the drugstore. So I still enjoy that chore, although my path now leads from the kitchen door to the driveway, around the back of the house to the dining room door (where Grace's cat flap is) and out to the woodpile. Mike finally got to try out the new snowblower he bought last fall. "It's a lot easier than shoveling by hand," and only took an hour to do our whole driveway.

For a change of pace from snow shoveling, come to the Library Tuesday night, February 21 at 7 pm, to look ahead to starting your summer garden. Chris Wiley of Vineyard Gardens will discuss and demonstrate techniques for starting seeds and propagating from cuttings, how and when to transplant them out into the garden. The event is free, so please come.

Mike and I have already opened the box of Chilmark Chocolates we bought from Megan Mendenhall. It was supposed to be my Valentine for Mike, but we cheated and opened it early. Megan was selling candy to raise money for a fifth-grade trip this spring. I gather it is fund-raising season, so look for West Tisbury school kids to be raising money for trips on the Shenandoah or Alabama, to Washington, DC, and to England.

Ken, Jeanne, and Siobhan Francis spent last weekend in Rehoboth attending a family birthday party for twins, Ben and Jeannie, who turned six.

The search committee for a new library director wants to remind everyone that survey questionnaires (short) are at the circulation desk till the end of February. We want your input in guiding our search, so if you haven't filled out a questionnaire yet, please take a minute next time you are at the library.

Condolences to the family of Bev King, who died last week. Her memorial service at the West Tisbury Church last Saturday was well-attended; cars filled every available space around the center of town.

To keep things in perspective, look at the witch hazel blooming along State Road inside the stone wall at the Polly Hill Arboretum. Or if you are lucky enough to have Ruth Kirchmeier or Leslie Baker for a friend, look at the winter jessamine blooming outside their respective kitchen doors. Enjoy the beautiful snow.