Calendars for the New Year
Considering the constants - dates, days, months and sequences - it would seem unlikely to find calendars with significant differences. Whether they feature animals or boats, people or scenes, they remain just practical devices with the uncomplicated intention of informing us what date it is that our ferry reservations need to be made, and when different holidays arrive and bills are due, while leaving just enough space for us to note dental appointments and other timely commitments.
And still, the new year brings dozens of choices in Island calendars. From the sublime to the ridiculous, the 2009 Vineyard calendars feature photographs that attempt to appeal to our interests, aesthetics, sentiments, or philanthropies.
The Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary calendar contains remarkable close-up photos of birds and other wildlife in Vineyard settings from Aquinnah to Chappaquiddick, all taken by Island photographers. Modestly contained in approximately eight by five inches, each month's photo is accompanied by an interesting fact. March features a Harbor Seal at Felix Neck photographed by Justen Walker, July, a dramatic nesting osprey family at Mink Meadows by Julian Robinson, and October, a praying mantis in West Tisbury by Lanny McDowell. Proceeds from the $12 price benefit the Natural History Programs at Felix Neck.
Although similar in subject and size, Julian Robinson's "Birds of a Different Feather" 2009 calendar is very different in its production and distribution. Like a photo album, it contains a collection of his actual photographs, two for each month, and all of the year's 105 hand-assembled calendars have been made by the photographer, and distributed as his gifts.
Nature rules. "Celebrating the Seasons of Massachusetts Agriculture" features the 2008 winners of the Massachusetts Agriculture Photo Contest. January 2009 showcases a photo by Heather Welch of "Marle," an alpaca available for adoption from Island Alpaca in Oak Bluffs, and July, a team of horses from the Ag Fair, photographed by Mr. Robinson. The $12.95 full-sized calendar bulges with information about crops, conservation, and farming. Proceeds benefit Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc.
Another calendar that supports a good cause is the Oak Bluffs library's "Savor the Moment" in honor of the late Della Hardman, a remarkable Islander who died in 2005. Her often-repeated theme was, "Savor the moment," and the calendar's photos depict images of affecting Island scenes. Proceeds from the $15 sale of the calendar support the library's programs.
It's "Ahhhh," and "Awwwww" in the annual offerings: "The Vineyard Calendar 2009," ($18.50) by photographer Peter Simon, and "Vineyard Sea Dogs,"($16) by photographer Lisa Vanderhoop.
Ms. Vanderhoop makes stars of Island pedigrees and mixed breed dogs from a waterlogged Irish Wolfhound (March) to a fluffy white Coton de Tulear (May), in boats, water, and on the beach. For the month of April, she photographed a half-dozen little dogs lined up on Squid Row in Menemsha behind a huge weary-looking English Mastiff. One has to smile.
For those who just can't get enough of Martha's Vineyard and light-streaked skies, Mr. Simon heightens and intensifies Vineyard scenes: seascapes and farmlands galore, along with a tractor in the snow (January), and a skateboarder behind a row of up-Island mailboxes (May). One of his more striking images is a close-up of a steer framed by the open loft of a barn (November). As in past years, he includes literary snippets, many from Island personalities.
For a charming offering, it's hard to resist "Growing up-Island," produced through an intergenerational program between Chilmark School and Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center devised to create a dialogue among the students and elders. With thoughts and photographs by students of field trips, family members, and handprints in the sand, the $17 calendar also includes inspirational quotes from national celebrities. Proceeds support the program, and all participants are pictured, leaving one with a good feeling about our community.
And then there's "2009 Coco." Local entertainer and ice skating teacher Corinne de Langavant, costumed as Coco the Clown, is photographed in a dozen coy poses - one for each month. No holidays are noted nor information provided, and the only conventional thing about this $17.50 calendar is that Wednesdays still follow Tuesdays. You have to love Coco to make this one work.
Check out Island bookstores, markets, and various shops, as well as sponsoring organizations, to discover calendars that inspire, amuse, honor, and even educate. And however the days and months are noted, scheduled, or adorned, make 2009 a good new year.