Town Column : West Tisbury
This is the time I like the best, when the work of the holidays is over, the house is quiet, and I can sit with all the lights off except for the candles in the windows and the lights on our tree. It feels like perfect peace.
The best gift I received this year was from Emily Smith. As I walked into the library a few days ago, smiling and saying "hi" to everyone, Emily said, "You are always so happy." I replied that I was not, then realized that wasn't exactly true. My "in the moment" life is filled with happiness, with work that is engaging, with friends and love. It's dwelling on past losses and sadness that ensnares me in a web of my own making. So my hope for 2009 is to focus on the present, on the way the light hits the shrubbery around the Mill Pond, on my frolicking pups, on all the blessings. Thank you, Emily.
Having said that, the end of one year and the beginning of the new, it is a natural time to evaluate. Like most years, 2008 has been filled with the mix of joys and sorrows and unexpected miracles.
This year's miracle is the recovery of McCaull Reid, who is home celebrating this Christmas with Beth Kramer and Douglas Reid, walking, talking, being himself. McCaull's mid-summer motorcycle accident was a horror. Douglas and Beth believed from the beginning that McCaull would be all right. Their steadfastness and his willpower never faltered. May you continue to gain strength and facility, McCaull, and continue to prove that miracles come true.
Our newest West Tisbury baby arrived in time for his first Island Christmas. Hugh Russell Bassett was born on December 19, "at the height of the storm," as his father described it. Hugh's parents are Sarah Wasserman and Brian Bassett of Boston, regular visitors to the Music Street home of Sarah's parents, Susie and Bob Wasserman. Brian and Henry, now an older brother, rode their bikes over on Christmas afternoon, to tell Mike and me that "Baby Bassett" was duly named, healthy, and doing well.
Margaret Logue's Christmas tree is an annual enterprise of engineering and art. As she has a double height living room, the tree has to be at least 10 feet tall. She and her granddaughter, Megan Mendenhall, work for days, braced on ladders or leaning out over the ledge of Margaret's second floor office, to get just the right ornament in just the right spot. Decorating the tree is the prelude to the arrival of combinations of Logues, Mendenhalls, Lowes, Pelkeys, and DeVanes. Trish and Herb Pelkey are here from Rutland, Vt., with their children, Marie, Caitlin, and Nash. Bill and Chris Logue, with James, Kate, and Meg, came from Hartford, Conn. Festive meals and beach walks are the order of business throughout the family's time together. Have fun!
Hilary and Tessa Wall are home from UMass Amherst. I hope they have a good visit with their parents, Howard and Diane, grandparents Ben and Florence Paul, and friends.
David Finkelstein was proudly carrying around a small granddaughter at the Hebrew Center Hanukah party. He acknowledges he is enjoying being a grandfather and appears to have mastered the necessary skills.
Jack Regan's second/third grade class at the Chilmark School has produced a calendar for 2009, recording the children's visits to Windemere. It has been an on-going project. Calendars are for sale at the school, Windemere Recreation Department, and Chilmark Chocolates.
The library is out of bags. Please drop off any extras you can spare. I went to Cronig's last week and asked for a handful to hold us over until this column comes out. They were graciously given. Thanks to Cronig's and to library patrons who deliver a usually steady supply.
I haven't seen Ellen Weiss yet, but know that she is expected. She will be spending her vacation from teaching duties at Tulane at her West Tisbury home on Old County Road. Her fellow coffee on the porch group at Alley's, moved inside for the winter, is looking forward to seeing her.
I have to thank an unknown person who greatly eased my holiday preparations this year. I have no trouble making the Buche de Noel dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner, but the meringue mushrooms have presented a challenge. Thankfully, this year at the Church's Holiday Sale, someone had made perfect meringue mushrooms, 12 to a basket. I bought my mushrooms, stored them carefully as instructed (in a tin, at room temperature, not frozen). They were perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I guess as we head into 2009 many of us see great hope for our future. We have a new president-elect who will take office in a few weeks. There will be new threads woven into the tapestry of our West Tisbury lives, births and deaths, illnesses, healing, contentious issues to be sure, and always things that bring us together. May we all try to focus on the present and on all we hold dear. Happy New Year.