West Tisbury

By Hermine Hull - June 15, 2006

Inchworms and caterpillars still seem the overwhelming hot topic of conversation around town this week. It was on the agenda at the weekly selectmen's meeting last Wednesday. Their Honors invited guest was West Tisbury Tree Warden, Jeremiah Brown. Jeremiah gave a report on the types of caterpillars, an assessment of damage around town, and a list of possible measures to take next year to ward off further damage. It is too late to do much this year except to keep trees well watered. Interestingly, he said not to feed the trees, as that would add to their stress. Ever-practical Skip Manter suggested we figure out how to train the caterpillars to eat poison ivy.

If you are curious, Abigail Higgins wrote an excellent article in the Calendar section of last week's Times about the different types of caterpillars infesting our yards. I also read about winter moths in Carol Stocker's new book, "New England Gardening Almanac" (pp.18-19) published by the Boston Globe.

Mike, Murphy, and the truck are still coming home covered with the miserable things, so I guess the heavy downpours of the past week were unable to wash them all away. I have found winter moth and fall cankerworm caterpillars feasting on my daylily and hosta leaves. It has been small satisfaction to pick them off, throw them on the ground and step on them, but this morning I found only a couple, so maybe it's working. Many of the roadsides and neighbors' yards look like mid-winter.

The selectmen also appointed interested residents to the Space Needs Committee. As more than the specified (at the Annual Town Meeting) seven people were interested, Joe Eldredge offered to give his advice without being a voting member. Sue Hruby was appointed to be an alternate member, as she will be away in August. The seven appointees are: Kent Healy, Robert Schwartz, Les Cutler, Kathy Logue, Bea Phear, Chuck Hodgkinson, and me. We plan to start meeting soon and to prepare a report for a Special Town meeting in November. Meetings will be posted at the town hall for anyone who would like to attend.

Vineyard Gardens will continue their lecture series this Saturday morning on the topic, "Gardening with Perennials." Different types of perennials, their bloom sequence, and care requirements will be discussed. The lecture begins at 11 am and is free.

And don't forget the Strawberry Festival will be held this Saturday at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. Their strawberry shortcakes are the best.

Marjory Potts will be celebrating her birthday this coming Monday, June 19. I wish her a good day in her garden and dinner provided by Robert.

Happy birthday to our niece, Laura Kimball, who will be 17 on June 20, with love from Uncle Mike and me.

The library is ready for the Summer Reading Program to begin. By a wonderfully serendipitous meeting, our design for this year's tee shirts and book bags is by illustrator Peter Sis. He was visiting the Island and admired sculpture by Jay Lagemann of Chilmark. Jay and Marianne Neill's daughter, Jenny Christie (Library Director in Aquinnah), were invited by her parents to meet Peter Sis, and Jenny asked him if he would do a drawing for the Island libraries. He said yes, and he did. The tee shirts are an electric lime green with the drawing in black. The book bags are printed red on a natural canvas bag. I'm sure they will begin to appear all around the Island as children and adults complete their lists of books.

If you don't know Peter Sis's work, check out some of his books at the library. My favorite is "The Dragons Are Singing Tonight," in which he illustrated deliciously imaginative poems by children's author, Jack Prelutsky.

West Tisbury poet, Dan Waters, will be reading a selection of his work next Thursday evening, June 22, at the Oak Bluffs Library. The event is free and will begin at 7 pm.

Somehow, between the worms and the rain, the Farmer's Market began as scheduled last Saturday morning with a surprising array of plants, bouquets, and produce on display. People were lined up for rugelach and rye bread at the Biga Bakery stand. Linda and Glenn Hearn had beautiful herb plants, and Victoria Phillips had a selection of huge perennials. I lined up to replenish my supply of Zinfandel jam from Linda Alley. (Spread on crackers with a slice of Brie, it makes an easy hors d'oeuvre.) There was an amazing variety of early vegetables: spinach and gleaming red radishes, thick asparagus stalks, big bags of arugula and baby lettuces. The flowers were bundled in artistic and abundant bouquets. It was, for me, the real start of the summer season.