Town Column : West Tisbury
The rhododendron leaves are shriveled up against the cold wind blowing through our woods, more seasonable weather than last week. Ruth Kirchmeier, Claire Chalfoun, and I took my dogs for a walk on Lucy Vincent Beach, where we were blown along by wind and sand. The waves were crashing high, spindrift in wide bands along the shore and caught among the rocks. Linda Jones and her daughter, Janice, were finishing their walk as we arrived, a last beach walk together before Janice returned home after her lovely visit for Thanksgiving.
Driving home from Vineyard Haven one night, I was welcomed by the colorfully lit tree at the point of Old County and State Roads, a gift to all who drive by. Manny and Sharon Estrella, young Manny and Jessica, Heidi and Greg Pacheco, and all of their children decorate this tree every December. Thank you.
There's so much to do. This weekend alone is the "Greens, Food and Gift Sale" at the West Tisbury Church, 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday, Dec. 13. This year's sale includes a new plant corner and photography by Joe Dobler, as well as the wreaths, swags, ornaments, jewelry, and special sweets we all have come to expect. There will be cider, cocoa, coffee, and muffins served throughout. From 10 am to 4 pm at the Grange is the Vineyard Artisans' Holiday Fair, featuring many familiar and new exhibitors. Later in the afternoon, 3 pm at the Charter School, there will be a presentation of "Demazana" by The Spindrift Marionettes. Also, Colleen Morris will have craft supplies set out all day for West Tisbury Library visitors to make additions to "Our Town," the library's holiday mural.
Or you can stay home, unpack your lights and decorations, bake some cookies, and keep the wood stove going.
Best of all the things to do this weekend is seeing Santa, who will be at the West Tisbury Fire Station 2 on Sunday from 12 noon to 3 pm. If you get there early enough, you can see Santa arriving on the fire truck, coming down State Road. The firemen pick him up in their shiniest red truck, you know.
Don't forget the library's Holiday Party on December 16 at 4 pm.
I forgot a very special birthday last week. Josephine Merry, daughter of Kara and Matt, turned four years old on December 7. Belated happy birthday wishes to you, Josephine.
When I saw Nicole and Ben Cabot the other day, Nicole was so sad about her parents leaving after Thanksgiving. Gaston and Linda Vadasz were here for two weeks from Budapest, Hungary, not long enough for Nicole, Ben, and Violet. It wasn't long enough for Gaston and Linda either. I hope they will be back soon, but probably not until summer, which seems so far away.
I have hardly seen my friend Linda Hearn lately. She was away before Thanksgiving, then busy getting ready for it, as she and Glenn had all their children and grandchildren here for four days. Then Mike and I were away. Now Linda is in New York City with her daughter, Susan Collins, and granddaughters, Jessica and Emily. They had lots of plans for a busy time, shopping, going to the theater, seeing The Rockettes at Rockefeller Center, and Linda planned to meet Hallie Mentzel for breakfast Sunday morning. She will be returning to Martha's Vineyard in time for the Town Party Tuesday evening and then I hope we have time to sit together over a cup of tea and catch up.
This has been a sad and thoughtful week for the Hull family. Many of you will remember Mike's aunt, Janice Hull, who lived in the old cape in front of us on the Edgartown Road. Janice was a snowbird for many winters, having bought a house in Bonita Springs, Fla. She has been in a nursing home in Florida for the past three years, and died there this past Thursday afternoon.
Anyone who knew Janice will understand when I say she was a law unto herself, the smartest person I have ever known and among the most capable, fiercely independent, determined, and opinionated. My husband once, asking her a question about something, prefaced it with, "If you can overcome your natural reticence, what do you think about....?" We all laughed as Janice overcame her natural reticence and began her lengthy opinion, standing outside Mike's shop as she began talking and continuing her discourse all the way up the path to her house, long after anyone remained in hearing distance. This was not an atypical scenario. She could drive and talk, do anything and talk; we all assumed she talked in her sleep.
But it was always so interesting. She told me wonderful stories about Mike as a little boy, most of what I know about West Tisbury and Island history, lots about politics, gardening, cooking, raising goats, and fixing a chain saw. Her stories were colorful, embroidered with reminiscences and asides, flourishes that started and carried you along as her agile mind ricocheted from one subject to the next. She was a writer, did ski patrol, and was assistant casting director for "Jaws." She was also an artist. In her early years, she studied fashion design at The Traphagen School in New York. She was known for doggedly repainting one flower in every repeat of a room's wallpaper because it was not quite the right shade of pink she wanted. And it had to be just right.
She had lifelong friends, read the newspaper every day, and made do seemingly effortlessly with great style. She belonged to the League of Women Voters and was a passionate supporter of informed engagement in a civil society, of civil rights, of literacy. She wrote voluminous letters, often stuffed with clippings of interest, always with insight and a dry sense of humor. Her handwriting took Mike and me several hours of study with a magnifying glass in strong light. Still, it was often indecipherable.
It was a travesty for her to go blind. Although she raged against it, she fought to remain independent, to stay in her house, to maintain her life. I loved her and admired her tremendously. Her son-in-law, Mike Haviland, once referred to her as "a benchmark of eccentricity." She was that and more.