Town Column

West Tisbury

By Hermine Hull
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Posted August 9, 2007

If you have wondered where the expression "dog days of summer" came from, I did too. It refers to the "dog star," Sirius, the brightest star in Canis Major, which appears to rise and set with the summer sun during July and August. It is also the brightest star in the summer sky. The Romans thought the earth received extra heat from its brightness, creating the excessively hot, humid weather we are currently afflicted with, loved by some, loathed by others.

"Thank you" to my reference specialist Paula Black, who found this information instantly. I had always assumed "dog days" referred to the condition of our labs and golden retrievers, digging holes under bushes and swimming at every opportunity to escape the heat.

The Ag Hall has posted its "Come to the Fair" sign on State Road. It's hard to believe the Fair will open in a week. Kathy Lobb has been busy lining up her judges and everybody I know is planning their exhibits and schedules of attendance. I am already anticipating losing my husband for a couple of weeks, as all Fire Department wives do, for the setting up/manning/taking down of the booth. The up side is that Mike becomes responsible for dinner those nights and the hamburgers, fully loaded, are wonderful.

During our conversation, Kathy told me that she and Norman had just returned from a few days off-Island. They visited their daughters, Dee and husband Doug Quesnel, and Amanda and friend Roger Clary, in Burlington, Vermont. They also saw Mara Bradley while they were there. It sounded like a nice West Tisbury reunion, although the hikes were mountainous and swimming was in Lake Champlain, in contrast to our flattish landscape and ocean waves.

Kathy and I also talked a little about Fair history. Ann Burt and her sister, Sally Thibault, and Sally's husband George had visited me earlier in the day. I was telling Kathy about our conversation, reminiscences of the girls riding their bikes from Blue Barque Road in Chilmark to paint fences and do various sorts of jobs at the old Grange Hall, all to earn free Fair passes. Kathy commented that Ann and Sally were still stalwart staff members, and had shingled one of the sheds outside the new Ag Hall to help ready the grounds in time for the Fair to open the year the Ag Society moved in 1995.

Debby and Harry Athearn were at breakfast Sunday morning with their son Brian, his wife Kate, their boys Hunter and Emmett, and Kate's parents, Bill and Mary Tvelia, who were visiting from Weymouth. It looked like an enjoyable outing, although later in the day, I heard about the hour wait to get into the restaurant.

Brian stopped by to fix our errant computer and I am terribly grateful that he spent part of a Sunday trying to save me from having to go up to the library to write my column as I have done the past two weeks. It was working perfectly when he left. I was terribly embarrassed to leave a message on his answering machine barely an hour later that Mike "had done something." I'm putting this in the column more to alert anyone who has tried to e-mail me these past weeks than to embarrass my husband. Mike has already been teased about his seeming ability to walk by the computer (maybe even when it's off) and cause some unexpected consequence. Anyway, I am actually enjoying writing my column up here; I get lots of news and have tons of reference materials at my disposal. And Paula.

Community Services' Possible Dreams Auction is even more popular than I had imagined. Betty Haynes's brother and sister-in-law, Fred and Linda Lewis of Cornwall, New York, timed their visit with Betty and Bill to coincide with this year's auction.

Sarah Murphy and Greg Barron have arrived from London with their children and Steve Murphy, Sr., to the Murphy house on Music Street. They expect to spend a lot of time on Hancock Beach.

George Hartman and Bill Honey are back from their trip to Eliot, Maine, where they attended an antique engine show. George came home with an early Prescott steam engine he plans to have restored in time to exhibit at our Vineyard show in October.

Happy Birthday wishes to Bob Day, who celebrated his 80th surrounded by his family and friends, much loved.

Marilyn Hollinshead was at the library with her grandchildren picking out books and DVD's. Emma and Matthew DeCourcey are staying with Marilyn and Warren while their mother Anne is house-hunting off-Island. Anne will be working for Harper Collins New England, so expects to be spending more time here on Pear Tree Cove. Her husband is the designated driver, coordinating the moving of the family's belongings and driving from Salt Lake City.

Frank and Ursula Ferro are the happy "parents" of a cockapoo puppy named Maisie. They went off-Island to pick her up earlier in the week. Maisie reportedly slept on Ursula's lap for the entire eight-hour trip home to the Vineyard.

August is "cousins month" for Mike and me. We had dinner last Wednesday night with Mike's cousin Dan Hull and his daughter Sunday, here from Somerville for a few days before Sunday leaves for China with her mother to visit Xiaoshi's family in Beijing. Friday night we had 14 of us for dinner, including my cousins who vacation here from Florida, Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey. And China this year, where David Gran and his wife Kim are teaching at an American school in Shanghai! We celebrated my cousin Sally's 90th birthday, all together.

When Mike and I added on a larger dining room a couple of years ago, these were just the gatherings we envisioned. Friday night's party felt like Thanksgiving, albeit with chicken and corn cooked on the grill, and a different cast. Saturday night our neighbors Bob and Maureen Fischer came for dinner and we are planning a Hull family dinner when our niece Charlotte is here later in the month.