Town Column : West Tisbury
West Tisbury firemen were roused from their beds Saturday morning around 5, called to respond for one of their own. The house was "fully engulfed" with flames when they arrived. Long-time department member, Lieutenant Dan Prowten, was found dead inside.
Chief Estrella called immediately for mutual aid. Firefighters from Chilmark, Aquinnah, and Tisbury came to help. Our thanks to them all. Anyone driving past the intersection of State and North Roads saw the tankers refilling throughout the day, leaving behind trees ice-laden and bent from their efforts. Hoses, trucks, firemen, and equipment were similarly coated in an icy spray. It was a long day spent in bitter cold and sadness, having been unable to save their friend and colleague.
Danny was many things: father, friend, carpenter, member of this community. Besides more than 30 years on the Fire Department, he served as a member of the School Committee, and was a regular, often vocal, attendee at town meetings.
One of my favorite memories of Danny was from many years ago when the department used to hold a dinner at the Home Port every May. Danny's date was his daughter, Diana, who was maybe four or five at the time. Both were dressed for their evening out, Diana in some little thing, Danny in a jacket and tie. There was no handsomer couple or prouder dad that evening.
My condolences to Pat and Diana, to all Dan's family, friends, and colleagues.
Condolences, also, to Mary French, whose husband, Jim, died last week. Jim was one of West Tisbury's truest gentlemen: thoughtful, kind, with elegant manners and a wickedly sharp sense of humor. He was a skillful and passionate sailor, something he and Mary shared. He was a most gracious host. He mixed a perfect vodka and tonic. The sound of his voice telling a story, laughing along at it himself, eyes twinkling, will be in my heart forever. I am so glad Jim had the pleasure of Ellen and Doyle, his daughter and son-in-law, moving back here a couple of years ago, and that they are here now for one another.
Anyone who has ever lost a beloved canine companion will allow me to include my condolences to Linda Alley. Her lab/golden retriever, Adam, was 17 and a half when he died last Monday. Adam was always by her side. He heeled naturally, from love as much as training. He died quietly in Linda's arms, with a stomach full of his favorite treats, surrounded by many friends who loved him.
Sunday night I had dinner with my art group at Ruth Kirchmeier's. Coming outside afterwards, I was struck by the brightness of the moon and stars. A few nights ago, Tom Vogl had referred to the wolf moon as the largest and brightest of the year. According to the Farmer's Almanac, Native Americans named every month's moon; the wolf packs howling outside their camps led to the name of January's full moon. The unusual brightness is attributed to the moon's perigee coinciding with its fullness. As an extra, the reddish spot to its left is the planet Mars.
Marie-Louise Rouff is February's Artist of the Month at our library. She will exhibit her colorful abstract paintings and talk about them at a reception on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 4 pm.
If you are dreaming of summer and gardening already, the Martha's Vineyard Garden Club invites you to their February meeting at the Wakeman Center, Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 1 pm. Mike Huben will be the speaker. "The Magic of Hybridizing Daylilies" is free to members, $5 to non-members and guests. There will be refreshments and conversation with other gardeners, plus an opportunity to enjoy the seedlings and smells of fresh dirt in their greenhouse. Definitely a tonic for mid-winter.
It was an unexpected surprise to see my friend Henry Bassett arrive at the Plane View for breakfast Sunday morning, accompanied by his grandfather, Bob Wasserman. Henry has just turned nine, on January 29. He, his father, and two friends went tubing, which Henry reports was great fun. He came down from Boston as an extra birthday treat. Henry's other big news is that his year-old brother, Hugh, has begun to walk.
Helene Barr has returned from Boston, where she attended a family birthday party for her one-year-old grandson, Henry Hall. "It was a wonderful weekend," she reported, returning to town filled with carrot cake and happy memories.
Wayne Iacono had preparations in hand for Betty and Janice Haynes's annual surf and turf celebration of their February 1 birthdays. Bill is in charge of the steaks. Betty's nephew and his wife, Brian and Dana Lewis, were able to join the party this year, as Brian, a Navy Ensign, is stationed nearby in Newport, R.I.
Bob Salop is another February 1 birthday celebrant. I wish him poppy seed cake, his favorite, and many happy returns.
Don't forget Vineyard Power's first membership meeting at the Katherine Cornell Theatre this Sunday, Feb. 7, at 4 pm. Call 508-693-3002 for information.
The cold continues, predictions for snow showers and continued temperatures barely above freezing all week. As the wind blows, it feels doubly cold, and I am grateful to stay by the woodstove with Talley and a good book.