My column this week represents a paradigm of life; joy and sadness, life and death, war and peace, plus a litany of daily occasions that together make up the way we all move along on our respective paths. As our Hippie Generation called it, "To every time there is a season."
To begin, I am saddened by the death of a dear and beloved friend, Al Mentzel. Al died last Monday afternoon, cared for by Hospice and his family. My love and condolences go to his wife Hallie, and their children Nina, Tony, and Andrea. As I write this, outside in my yard are the beginning blooms of the daffodils Al gave me from his garden several years ago.
Tuesday evening Cynthia Walsh called to tell me about the birth of her latest grandchild, Audrey Hamlin Walsh. Audrey was born on February 26 to James and Colette Walsh of Rye, New Hampshire. She is the baby sister of eight-year-old Ella Claire and five-year-old Henri Elliott. Cynthia had been in Italy caring for her daughter's children when Audrey was born, so packed up and seamlessly moved "from one kitchen to another," to help out.
Leslie Baker and I took time out from our Search Committee interviews last week for a walk at Quansoo with our dogs, Talley, Zennie, and Pancho. We had earlier been trying to describe to an off-Island candidate what was so wonderful about living here, and standing on the bridge over Crab Creek looking out over the most beautiful landscape in the world, there it all was. I remember being taken by a friend down that long dirt road for a walk at Quansoo on my first visit to the Vineyard in 1982. It was then, and still remains, my favorite spot to walk and to paint. Leslie and I vowed to return every day for a week to paint what must surely be a million paintings. Everywhere we looked was a painting. At least we can make a start with one a day.
Mike Colaneri hosted an opening reception at the Chilmark Library last Saturday for an exhibition of his photographs, taken when he was a young recruit serving in Viet Nam. The photographs moved me to tears, given the current war in which our country is involved. I remember the Viet Nam era vividly. Once again, our nation is divided by supporters and opponents of a war thousands of miles away, with thousands of deaths resulting. The smiling children and verdant landscapes depicted in Mike's photographs made a dramatic statement of the human reality of war.
Meanwhile, Jim Alley reported seeing robins in his yard. Daffodils are blooming all around town. I have been watching Linda McGuire's forsythia hedge as I drive along State Road; it is just ready to burst into full bloom with just another day of sun. Spring is early this year. My earliest daffodils previously were noted as blooming on April 8. The ground is already dry, so I am looking forward to the two days of rain predicted for this week.
Three birthdays are of note this week. Nathaniel Haynes will turn 11 on Tuesday, April 4. He celebrated early this past weekend, with a sleepover that included several of his friends. All participants were reported to be dragging the next day. I won't disclose the ages of my brother Mike, whose birthday is on Wednesday, April 5, or of Roy Dickerson, who celebrates on Saturday, April 8. Happy birthday to you all.
Saturday, April 8, the library will hold an all-day drop-in craft project from 10:30 to 4. Materials will be in the Children's Room, where Nelia Decker will help kids make butterflies.
On Sunday afternoon, April 9, come to the library to celebrate National Poetry Month for an afternoon of poetry reading from 4 to 5:30 pm. Bring your own work to read or a favorite poem to share. You are also welcome to let others read while you listen and enjoy the refreshments.
April 9 is Palm Sunday, which means the local greenhouses will open with special events for the public. Both West Tisbury garden centers, Heather Gardens and Vineyard Gardens, will participate in this annual beginning of the Vineyard gardening season.
Bill and Betty Haynes have just returned from their vacation, mostly in Florida. They are both sun-lovers and complain all winter about the weather, waiting till mid-March for their vacation so they can come home to an expectation of warmth. This year, they flew to Sebastian, Florida, where they visited a summer friend, Mary Heitle, and enjoyed the Inland Waterway and seven miles of beautiful beach. Their next stop was West Palm Beach, where Tom Norton spends the winter. Then they headed to the Gulf Coast to spend a few days with Rosalie Powell at her winter home in Anna Maria Island. Pierce and Bernice Kirby were there, too. Betty and Bill continued on, with a cruise that took them from Tampa to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya. Three days at Disney World completed the itinerary. They returned home tanned and happy to their newly painted and wallpapered office, a project someone else had done in their absence.
Talley is ready for a walk, so I will wrap up this column and send it off. It is warm enough to make a sandwich and take a picnic to the beach.