West Tisbury


The Island seems to be draped in autumn clematis. Its sweet fragrance perfumes the air, sun-warmed, as tiny white flowers and heavy leaves adorn hedgerows and fence posts alike.

The weather has been beautiful. Now that the Derby has started, most of the beaches are open, and I am eager to begin walking and exploring. Today will be Quansoo, my first and favorite. I remember when I first came to the Island and was taken to walk there. The old fishing shack still stood on the pond side, a ruined relic, a memory of honeymoons and trysts, of fishing exploits, too, I suppose.

Linda Vadasz sent me a picture of the first pomegranate growing in her and Gaston’s vineyard in Csobanc, Hungary. She told me a story of pomegranates, that they are eaten on Rosh Hashanah because the 613 seeds they reputedly have correspond to the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, in the Torah. I liked the story and I like the husky fruit filled with seeds that sparkle like rubies. Cathy Mann made pomegranate chicken with couscous for us to celebrate 5771. Now I know why.

Linda and Gaston plan to be here in November with their daughter and son-in-law, Nicole and Ben Cabot, and their granddaughters, Violet and Reed. I can’t wait to see my dear friends.

I also can’t wait to see our newest citizen of West Tisbury — Charlotte Esther May Marshard, daughter of Laura and Bruce, baby sister of Jack. Charlotte was born on August 26. Welcome, Charlotte.

Cynthia Walsh is missing her granddaughters, Avery and Bowen Fernie. Although the girls were here for a good long stay, it is never long enough for a doting grandparent. Cynthia sends the girls a fair booklet as soon as it comes out, so they can begin preparing their entries, as the fair coincides with their visit. This year, Avery (age 5) won a blue ribbon for her crayon drawing of a farm. Older sister Bowen entered a red-ribbon-winning flower arrangement. Congratulations to you both. The girls are now home in Florence, Italy, with their parents, Katherine Walsh and Bruce Fernie.

Closer to home, the library is hosting several special events. Joanne Scott will speak about Craniosacral Therapy and Still Point Induction this Saturday, Sept. 18, at 4 pm. Next Monday, Sept. 20, the Kid’s Book Club (for kids aged 9 to 11) will meet at 3:30 pm. There is still time to read the book, “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy,” that will be the topic of discussion. Also on Monday and Tuesday afternoons at 5:30, Dr. Enid Haller will show the documentary film, “Under Our Skin,” by Andy Abrahams Wilson, and lead a discussion about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

As school has begun, many of my summer friends have disappeared and gone home for the school year. It was a wonderful surprise to walk into the airport for Sunday morning breakfast and see Henry Bassett cutting into his French toast. Henry, his brother Hugh, and their mom, Sarah Wasserman, were here from Boston for the weekend. Brian Bassett was away on business, so the rest of the family decided to come down to enjoy a fall weekend with Suzi.

I usually don’t wade into political issues in this column, particularly town politics. But I was surprised to find out that one of my favorite haunts in West Tisbury might have to move to Vineyard Haven. As a new knitter, I have become a devotee of Vineyard Knit Works, Alix Small’s home business on New Lane. It has been helpful to be able to just run around the corner to get advice or an extra skein of yarn.

Here’s where I get on my soapbox. Our current home business bylaw is, I believe, overly restrictive.

Small home businesses allow many of us to earn a modest living and have a nice life, instead of living an off-Island 24/7 kind of life we never wanted. Being able to be at home with dogs and kids or working in the garden on a slow afternoon (or even taking off a slow afternoon) is possible when one has a home-based business, one without a commercial quality or a commercial monthly rent. I truly believe home businesses in town have enriched and vitalized our community.

I have encouraged Alix to propose a rewriting of our home business bylaw and I encourage our planning board, board of appeals, and all of us to get involved in the process. More than ever in this economy, the ability of all of us to find a way to survive financially, and to flourish as families and as a community, is critical.