What to do: Adult activities
Island children aren't the only ones who can look forward to a list of activities to keep their minds and bodies active in the fall and winter. From art to reading to sports, adults are being offered a variety of options to learn a new skill or two, or ways to unwind after a long day's work - all at little or no expense.
Bob O'Rourke organizes weekly table tennis nights at the West Tisbury School, Thursdays, from 6:30 to 9 pm. "It's a great aerobic sport," he says. "If you play for 15 minutes, it's like running a mile. It's competitive, fun and good for your health."
A table tennis competitor in the Senior Olympics in California this year, Mr. O'Rourke says the group includes four people who are qualified to play in sanctioned table tennis tournaments around the country. But don't let the experts intimidate you. Several table tennis coaches who show up on a weekly basis and will help new players get better.
"If someone played way back in high school and college and they've done nothing since, and they think they're pretty good... we'll do basic practice with them," he says. "There's a lot of technique involved."
Free and open to everyone, the group has been gathering for six years. This fall, according to Mr. O'Rourke, they hope to add another night to the schedule.
"The age ranges from 10 to 80 years old. It runs the entire gamut, men and women, beginners and those pretty able," he says, and adds, "We love to have people walk in."
Monday is women's basketball night at the West Tisbury School gym. Layne Bazzy of Aquinnah organizes the group that meets during the school year, from 6:45 pm to 8:30 pm. The teams, usually four on four, are formed each time the women meet up.
"You don't have to call, people usually get there a little early and stretch and chat," Ms. Bazzy says, "It's competitive, but you don't have to be really great. There are a wide range of players. People are really willing to be helpful. It's a pretty easy-going, nice group of people. We try to mix it up with ability and height so that the teams are fair."
For those looking to glide gracefully into winter on their lunch break, public skating at the Martha's Vineyard Arena in Oak Bluffs is available from 11 am to 1 pm, Monday to Friday, and from 3:30 to 4:50 pm on the weekends.
Although the arena is not presently crowded, Bruce Mahaffey of Oak Bluffs, one of two managers at the arena, says, "By the time January and February come around, there may be about 120 people out on the ice."
The ice arena is home to adult ice hockey, facilitated by Beth O'Connor. Available from July to March, leagues are divided up by men's A and B, women's, seniors, intermediate, and novice. (The intermediate league is co-ed, seniors are men from 35 on up.)
Players can drop in for $15, except for novice, or buy a season pass for $100.
For public skating the cost is $5 a person (children under five are free). Bring your own skates or rent them from The Cutting Edge full-service pro shop at the arena.
A registration session for adult hockey, is scheduled for this evening, Thursday, Oct. 1, from 6 to 7 pm. Or go to mvarena.com.
For bicyclists 18 and older, The Vineyard Off Road Bicycle Association offers Sunday trail rides that meet behind the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Rides take place year round in all weather. Organizer David Whitmon of Oak Bluffs, recognizable by his green three-person tandem, explains the rides are generally between 15 and 40 miles, and traverse land easements that connect properties all over the Island. "I bet there are 300 miles of dirt trails, dirt roads, on this Island," he says, adding that riders with a base mileage of 50 miles a week should find the trail rides challenging and breathtaking
"In the 20 years I've been doing this," Whitmon says, "it hasn't gotten boring."
Visit the Cycling Club of Martha's Vineyard online at ccmv07.com.
As many activities as there are the Island for the body, there are also many choices of things to do that engage the mind. The West Tisbury Free Public Library hosts a free, drop-in Stitch/Knit group on Monday at 7 pm, which includes rug hookers, crocheters, and knitters.
Colleen Morris, programs director at the library, says, "Everyone brings a project they're working on, like sweaters or socks," and refers to the experts in the group as an "informal knitting advisory counsel."
Also on Mondays, the library offers a weekly movie night. For a schedules of library activities, visit westtisburyfreepubliclibrary.org.
Other town libraries offer a variety of activities for all ages and interests.
Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs provides art classes all year, including an open pottery studio twice a week. For $5 an hour, $25 for a bag of clay and $15 for a glaze and firing fee, participants can make their own pottery.
"If you're interested in the arts we offer something pretty much every day of the week, year-round," says Francine Kelly, director of Featherstone.
The classes include tapestry making, wool felting, and card making to drawing, painting, holiday gifts, ceramics and more. Visit featherstoneart.org.
And for those who truly want to use their heads, there are a whopping 50 adult education classes ranging from Shakespeare to yoga, Spanish to Mexican cooking offered by Adult and Community Education of Martha's Vineyard (ACE MV). This year, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies is giving course credit for ACE courses in Irish History, World Religion and Psychology. Visit acemv.org.
Becky Hamm is a freelance writer.