West Tisbury


Outside the windows, the woods are at their prettiest. I love the bare branches intertwining in all directions, a contrast crisscrossing the vertical tree trunks. Tom Hodgson reported finding snowdrops blooming in a sheltered spot along Music Street.

Louise and Henry Bessire just called to say “goodbye.” When they arrived here a week ago it seemed we had a nice long time ahead to plan to get together. Now the week has gone by. We talked about winter time fleeting, slower traffic on Edgartown Road, Christmas at Paul and Anne’s in Brookline, and a trip taken by Mark, Aimee, Blakey, and Clay to Tanzania. Blakey complained that the ocean was too hot for swimming, more like the proverbial bathtub, and the pool acceptable only in early mornings. But everyone enjoyed their trip, nonetheless, being especially enthusiastic about a horseback safari on which they saw giraffes and gazelles.

This column is practically writing itself, as after Louise and Henry hung up, the phone rang again. This time it was Sue Hruby with the following: This was the first morning that sunrise was earlier than it has been for the past week and a half. Sunrise was recorded at 7:08 this morning, a full minute earlier than 7:09. So the days are getting longer, both morning and evening.

Next came an email from Perry Garfinkel. He is home for the winter from India, where he has been working on his latest travel book. He is living at the top of Christiantown Road this winter instead of in his customary winter residence at Mazer’s. Perry will speak at the West Tisbury Library on January 18 at 5:30 pm, giving insights about India and its long history of hospitality. For anyone interested in travel writing, Perry will conduct an all-day workshop at his home on January 22. The $150 fee includes lunch and a wine-and-cheese mixer at the end of the day. Contact him at 508-693-9305 or perrygarfinkel@aol.com.

It was quite a surprise to see Teena and Charlie Parton on the boat last Thursday. They had already read my column online, as Charlie greeted me with a comment about his delight on reading and reminiscing about peppermint ice cream sundaes.

Arnie Fischer had been on the boat that morning. He was taking some sheep off to be slaughtered (I wonder why we use that word, when they are going to be carefully and humanely killed, not slaughtered as though it were some kind of frenzied butchery.) After that and some errands that needed attending to, Arnie planned a visit with his sister, Mary, in Mashpee, before coming home.

Martha Fleishman and I were in Oak Bluffs last weekend walking around with Martha’s Airedale, Isabella — Izz’l for short. We decided a few biscuits at Good Dog Goods would be just the thing.

As we entered, we heard, “Isn’t she beautiful! I have an Airedale, too. Come and see her.” She was just outside in the fenced yard, a two-year old beauty named Dinah. “Are you Mary Orcutt?” I asked, beginning to put two and two together. She was and is. The only other person I have seen on the Island with an Airedale was Greg Orcutt, and this was the very Airedale. Izz’l, a mature 13, wasn’t too interested in romping with an over-eager youngster, although Dinah did her best to make it the most attractive offer in town.

I had planned to write about cleaning our cellar, a winter tradition. Mike had been hinting all week that it was on his mind. By Sunday morning, he was tight-lipped and ready for battle. Any wife of long-standing knows when to stand her ground and when to accede. There was no question. Downstairs I went, happily occupied with writing in my head a funny column describing details of our day.

By late afternoon, however, I realized how grateful I was for my husband. His tenacity not only made the project happen, but made it successful. I was already upstairs — reminiscing through piles of papers, old magazine articles I had saved for some reason, letters from my grandmother, boxes of paperbacks I had read in college, and some of my old art-school sketchbooks that had survived earlier purges.

Mike had already been to the dump twice. No sentimentalist he, he had no need to waste time going through boxes. Out they went. Our basement floor reappeared. Shelves no longer filled with tax papers from the Jurassic Age and undone New York Times crosswords almost as old now, awaited neatly arranged boxes of Christmas ornaments and rarely used pots, pans, bowls, and platters. I know nothing would ever progress without Mike’s dogged pushing and pulling me along. I do recognize it, even though I don’t always like it. Or accede.

My apologies to Harry Athearn, who was alerted earlier in the week to the possibility of a funny column about his friend. Sorry there is nothing here for you and the coffee group at Alley’s to tease him about.