Town Column


By Jacqueline Sexton
Click here to contact Jacqueline

Posted November 8, 2007

Saturday's storm brushed the Island and dumped all the rain we should have had during the drought-stricken summer, accomplished some serious tree trimming, felled some trees and nearly restored Menemsha's pre-1938 hurricane beach. The sand was piled up all over the parking lot, up to the gas pumps. Squibnocket, as usual, was awash in thunderous surf churning all the way to the horizon. Maybe all the display was a welcome back to Eastern Standard Time. In any case, the periodic on/off bursts of electricity raised havoc with everything digital, and we suffered rebukes from the computer and a jumble of bizarre responses from the television. When we awoke on Sunday, an hour late or an hour early, depending on your point of view, we found a world well washed and full of bright sunshine and blameless clear blue skies. Ah, nature! Does anyone doubt who's in charge?

The Friends of the Library invite everyone to a ceremony to honor Marvin Joslow, tireless library volunteer for many, many years, who died earlier this year. A memorial tree, a Stewartia, has been planted near the back terrace and should achieve a height of 30 feet, thus providing some shade for laptop users and others who sit out on the terrace. The date is Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2:30 pm, and refreshments will be served.

School principal Diane Gandy's monthly report in the Bell Tower made fascinating reading, as it always does, for anyone who was educated during the dark ages of rote. Students learn from the outset (K-1) the practical application of abstract concepts and presumably can therefore make much more sense of what they're learning. To wit: Cereal, candy, clothing, and houses are all made from plants they have studied, from the seed stage up; as they progress, they're taught how we use numbers and discuss what mathematics is. Along with the adding, subtracting, and sets.

One second and third grade project is "100 Years Ago, then and now," for which students take photos with their digital cameras of places and things on the Island that have not changed in 100 years. All that and they know more than we do about working online.

What with field trips to various farms, Polly Hill and Windemere, the community is all around and about the students.

The school program at the library is up and running, and students have an excellent idea of the library's place in their lives. The library invites all parents and anyone else who is interested to an open house on Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 5 to 6 pm so parents can get an idea of how their children are learning about books and literature on Mondays at the library.

Volunteers have always played a significant role at the school, and these days, thanks go to Ethel Sherman and Ann Deitrich for their help in introducing the youngest students to reading, and to Roberta Morgan for her to-die-for donut holes. School these days sounds like a lot more fun than it used to be.

"Starfish and the Number Five" is the title of a lecture by Fred Hotchkiss, director of the Marine Paleobiological Research Institute (MPRI). The talk will focus on the mystery of the starfish's five-part symmetry, common in the plant world but rare in the animal world. Mr. Hotchkiss, a resident of Vineyard Haven, founded the MPRI in 2004 with a mission to preserve our fossil heritage. He has a degree in earth science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has done graduate study at Yale University.

The lecture is funded, in part, by a grant from the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Okay, we set our clocks back and the computer set its clock back last weekend, but dusk at 3 pm is going to take some getting used to.