Town Column

West Tisbury

By Hermine Hull
Click here to contact Hermine

Posted January 25, 2007

As I'm writing this column Monday morning, the first flakes of snow are falling. The thermometer reads 22 degrees. Our woodstove is making the house cozy and warm as I look out the window to the chill gray morning. This whole week is predicted to have what we expect as winter weather.

I imagine everyone in town is thinking either of escaping to Florida or settling into a project around the house. I know several proponents of both philosophies. There is always plenty to do. Mike and I have finally packed away the last of the Christmas lights (neatly, in our newly cleaned basement) and moved on to other things. It always feels like the whole winter lies ahead for fresh coats of paint on the window trim or tidying up a closet and, as always, this year I truly intend to get things accomplished.

Last week, on a walk with our dogs at Sepiessa, Mike and I could see an excavator across the pond opening the cut. I had never seen it done before and was so excited. We watched the work proceed for half an hour or so, the sand piling up first on the far side, then on the Quansoo side of the beach, and finally we could see the water breaking through. Mike remembered he and his brother, Jared, along with a group of guys similarly armed with shovels, opening the pond by hand back in the 1980s. We had been watching how high the pond has been these past weeks and wondered when it would be opened, so it was a wonderful surprise to get to see it happen.

Nelia Decker has just returned from a few days in sunny California where she visited with her family. She, her mother, and her sister spent some time seeing the sights and 50s architecture, now called "Mid-Century Modern," in Palm Springs. Then she went to Los Angeles, where she rode on a tandem bike with Chris's brother, Alan. Nelia declared, "It's nice to be home, despite the change in temperature."

I received an interesting e-mail from Keri McLeod, who is currently living in India where she is teaching art and photography to middle and high school students at an international school. Her eighth-grade class is involved in a project called the "100 People Project," which originated from New York City. "If there were only one hundred people in the world, what would they look like?" Based on statistics, the best 100 images will be chosen for a traveling exhibition, a documentary film, and a book. Various international schools are participating in the project. Two web sites are available to anyone interested in looking at the material. They are and (click on India>American International School, Chennai.)

Eric Lowe and Bill Haynes were in Meriden, Conn., last Thursday and Friday attending a two-day seminar on solar hydronic systems. Bill recently installed a system of solar panels for Frank and Ursula Ferro, and has gotten very interested in the new technologies available. It will be interesting to hear more.

If you are reading this in time on Thursday, Chris Wiley is teaching a class about plant propagation at the library from 5 to 7 pm. The Monday night movie on Jan. 29 will be "The Entertainer," starring Sir Laurence Olivier.

I just walked out to Mike's workshop to ask him a question and saw what he was doing out there. Over the years of living in an unfinished house with the carpenter as my husband (i.e. I'm last on the list) I have enjoyed the quiet way he will work on something and bring it inside as a surprise for me. Everything has been so beautifully made and thought out, truly worth the wait.

Anyway, originally our living room had a pair of double doors that went outside to the back yard. Above these doors was a cheap plastic flood light with two outdoor light bulbs in it. Over the years we added on first a deck, then the deck became a sunroom off the living room, still with this outside porch light above the doorway. Mike's Aunt Janice had given us an old, metal grate of some sort, rusty and needing work, which we talked about making into a light fixture, but down the cellar it went, to the "Hall of Someday Projects." It is out on Mike's worktable now, receiving its final coats of paint. Mike has replaced the missing scrollwork, cleaned and sanded off the rust, welded a beautiful oval support for the whole thing, and hinged the grate to the bezel so we can easily change the light bulbs. It is amazing. I know I'll be sorry I said this, especially in print, but it's nice to get things a little at a time, to appreciate every new improvement fully and for itself.