Town Column : West Tisbury
It feels like spring vacation. The ground fog at dawn has given way to perfect cloudless sunshine. Laundry is out on the line, drying instead of freezing. The windows are open. I drank my tea sitting on the back steps, sun on my face. Although Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and headed back to sleep in his den for another six weeks and the Weather Channel predicts snow tonight, today is a day to savor. Meanwhile, it's only prudent to bring in extra firewood.
Jean Wexler called to remind everyone that the Dumptique is closed through February. Please save your contributions for its reopening after March 1.
Eva Chammah Slossberg will turn 1 on February 5. Eva is the beloved granddaughter of Helene Barr. Meanwhile, Helene and her family await the birth of their second grandchild, due any minute. Everyone is hoping the new baby will be born on the 5th, too.
I forgot to wish happy birthday to several celebrants last week. February 1 is the birthday of mother/daughter Betty and Janice Haynes. Their customary surf and turf dinner was held Saturday night, so not to interfere with the Super Bowl. Bill and Betty were happy to have leftovers Sunday night while Janice and her husband, Jeremiah Brown, rabid football fans, were deep into the game.
Bob Salop is the other February 1 birthday. He also celebrated early. His son, Alex, and granddaughter, Rachel, came for the weekend, but had to leave on the 5 pm boat to be back in Connecticut for school and work Monday morning.
Cynthia Riggs's 20th Groundhog Day party was held at the Cleaveland House. As always, it combined revelry with politics. The party is famous for the number of political aspirants, nominating papers in hand and platform spiels at the ready, gathering signatures from other guests.
This year, Town Clerk Prudy Whiting has put early ads in the local newspapers listing the positions that are up for election. There are always incumbents and always contenders, making for an exciting winter topic of conversation in town and an exciting election season. I know our library board needs two new members, as neither incumbent is running for reelection. The personnel board is short three members. Check out the list of positions and boards in the paper or at town hall. You have until Tuesday, Feb. 24, to get your signed papers back to town hall. I know everyone, especially young people, is busy, but it's important that we all participate. That's what keeps our town running.
Many in town know Elaine Barnett. Many of you were her students over her 36-year career at the West Tisbury school. Many of your children have been her students, too. Last Friday, students, teachers, residents, town officials, and just plain friends threw a surprise retirement party for Elaine as she leaves classroom teaching to work as a consultant and mentor. According to Nick Andre, Elaine has worked 6,480 days at the school. There were music, speeches, art, a video show, and cake afterwards. Lots of hugs and tears, too. Among the tributes, these two stuck in my mind. "Elaine teaches us so we understand." "Elaine makes all kids happy." I can't imagine any better accolades or any life path that so importantly affects children's lives. What a gift Elaine has given West Tisbury's children for all of her 6,480 days. What gifts they have, each and every one, given her.
Alexis Garcia has given me a copy of the school's newsletter, "Hawks Squawks!" There's a lot going on at our school, not only for parents and students. They are selling Chilmark Chocolates for Valentine's Day (delivery on Thursday, Feb. 12) looking for volunteers as reading partners, besides all sorts of plays and musical programs open to the public.
The library's Family Fun Day will be Saturday, Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. Keep the date for now; there will be details in next week's column.
Also at the library on the art wall are poems by the two candidates for West Tisbury's poet laureate. Justen Ahren and Fan Ogilvie have submitted three poems each. Your comments are welcome. At the end of the month, the poet laureate selection committee will make a recommendation to the library board, who notify the selectmen.
Condolences to two families in town. Christa Fischer lost her mother, Despina Duane, and the Seward brothers lost their mother, Terry Hydeman, both after long illnesses.
We had four bluebirds at our feeder last week. Their color was striking against the falling snow. There have been fat robins, finches already showing color, a pair of tufted titmice, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and mourning doves. The day it snowed, I found it difficult to leave watching their ongoing show outside my window.