West Tisbury


Suzanne Hammond called me last week to announce the appearance of her first snow crocus. Kathy Stevenson has snowdrops blooming in her yard. Joanne Scott has seen pussy willows on Music Street.

When I stepped outside with the dogs the other evening, I looked at the spot where our first snowdrops appear, and there they were with their pretty, white bells showing. Everywhere else there are green nubs of snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils poking up through the ground. This week’s predicted temperatures in the 50s will hasten the progress of an early spring.

One of my favorite gardening books is “The American Woman’s Garden” by Rosemary Verey and Ellen Samuels. My copy is ragged and well-loved; we have a copy at the library, too. So I was very excited to hear from Cathy Minkiewicz about the upcoming trip planned by the Polly Hill Arboretum to visit several gardens in the Pennsylvania/Delaware area this May.

One is Mount Cuba Center for the Study of Piedmont Flora, designed and developed by Pamela Copeland. She was one of the many gardeners who wrote about their gardens, in their own words, telling their visions and their stories in this wonderful book. Every time I reread it I feel like I’m having a visit with old friends. I would love to see Mount Cuba, Henry DuPont’s Winterthur, and the other gardens on the planned tour.

The Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club is planning a trip to the Flower Show in Boston on March 17. These are opportunities for gardeners to get ideas and smell loamy soil before it warms up enough here. Call Karin Stanley at the arboretum, 508-693-9426, or Sandy at the Vineyard Haven Council on Aging, 508-696-4205, for information about both these trips.

As I write this, the fragrance of hyacinths floats across our living room from the table in front of the sofa where I am sitting. I bought them Saturday at Cronig’s, deep pink hyacinths like the ones that bloomed in my mother’s garden. Mom’s surrounded a magnolia tree that bloomed at the same time, their scents mixed together beneath the bedroom window of my childhood. I love it and its memories to this day.

Kudos to Chief Manny Estrella for canceling this week’s Monday night drill, a prudent and thoughtful decision. When the announcement came over the scanner Sunday night, Mike said all the guys knew they would be in trouble with their wives if they had to go off to the fire house on Valentine’s Day. I hope it was romantic and filled with surprises for everyone.

Don’t forget that Monday, Feb. 21, is President’s Day. Schools, town offices, and the library will all be closed.

My apologies for a rather short column this week. Between work and watching the news about Egypt all last week, I’m afraid I haven’t gotten out and about much. Two places I have been are the library and Cronig’s. It made me think about the social value of getting out.

I guess it would be possible to run one’s life entirely on a computer from the comfort of home. Now there is even Skype, so you can look at the person you are talking to. But none of that can compare with the random social interactions that used to be part of everyone’s daily lives.

That was the topic of conversation the other day when I was buying groceries and had the pleasure of running into Kathy Stevenson, Beth Kaeka, and Phyllis Meras. Kathy and I had the aforementioned conversation about snowdrops. Beth and Dwight have become empty-nesters. They miss their kids and are trying to adjust to a quieter house. Phyllis and I have both been fascinated by the unfolding news from Egypt (this was last week, remember, when everyone’s first question was still, “Is Mubarak still president?”) She had recently returned from trips to both Tunisia and Egypt with interesting perspectives to share.

Of course, all of us were trying to navigate the newly reorganized aisles of Cronig’s, asking advice about where things had been moved. We all agreed that it was a neighborhood gathering place and those random encounters with Marcelo, Phieu, Linda, Valmir, et. al., and with whoever happened to be shopping at the same time, were a delightful part of our days. Much better than tweeting.