The holiday season is a whirl of activity, from shopping to celebrations, decorating to welcoming family and friends. And meanwhile work, community, church, and school schedules are as busy as ever. Throw in a snowstorm, some cancelled boats, shopping still not done as Christmas Eve nears, and no wonder it’s hard to remember what day it is.
Now that the season is winding down it’s time to get ready for a happy and well-organized 2014. Luckily, many colorful Martha’s Vineyard calendars are available to help us plan our schedules and lift our spirits with their captivating images.
The Vineyard Calendar by Peter Simon
Peter Simon never tires of finding great Vineyard locations and showing them at their very best, always with his own especially creative touch. Now in its 27th year, his calendar is as fresh as ever, a testament to the experienced photographer’s gift for seeing each scene anew.
Enticed by the cover photo, the top of the stalwart East Chop lighthouse against a dramatic sun-drenched yet partly cloudy sky, we are led through a pictorial tour of the Vineyard and its seasons, ever reluctant to turn the page because the current month’s photo quickly becomes a favorite.
Each photo is paired, as always, with brief words by an Island neighbor, or, as in this year’s quotes from T.S. Eliot and Albert Camus, a well-known non-Vineyard writer.
Mr. Simon’s January photo takes our breath away in the chilly air as cotton puffs of snow cling to dune shrubs beside a steely sea. Even the commonplace sight of children sledding at Tashmoo Overlook becomes a charming, old-fashioned scene, framed by pine branches. Furry alpacas huddle in the snow like super-sized stuffed animals then all at once — just as every year — Chilmark cherry blossoms burst forth despite the still cold air.
In a fortuitous catch, Mr. Simon shoots bright buoys on the Tisbury waterfront, their colors echoed by a rainbow far beyond. In close-up view, oak leaves in autumn become the “flowers” of the accompanying Camus quote.
For next December, Edgartown’s Town Hall is all aglow with Christmas lights, bringing us back to the present festive moment.
Wildlife of Martha’s Vineyard
This pint-sized wildlife calendar launched by Penny Uhlendorf is now 11 years old. With its photographs of Vineyard creatures both winged and furry in lovely natural settings, the calendar is always popular. Featured photographers are a mix of amateur and professional. All capture remarkable candid views of birds and other creatures in the wild.
The 2014 calendar is dedicated to Ms. Uhlendorf, who put it together for the past decade. She also secured the cover photo of a tiny Allen’s hummingbird, a rare visitor here.
Dan Waters evokes January’s bluster with a portrait of two northern cardinals on a slender bare branch. On another snowy branch, Lanny McDowell’s little white-winged crossbill looks soft as a baby’s toy.
As noble and angular as the Crossbill is fluffy and cute, a sharp-shinned hawk photographed by Mr. Waters stands sentinel amidst ice. Jeff Bernier’s perky tree swallow looks positively exotic with blue-grey feathers.
Sarah Mayhew’s greater yellowlegs prances through shallow water, a ballerina en pointe. Her dramatic shot of a black skimmer shows the wide-winged bird gliding on the prowl, just above the water’s surface.
Birds are not the only stars. Naturalist and Times columnist Matt Pelikan contributes a prehistoric-looking purple tiger beetle, and a delicate eastern tiger swallowtail on a pink blossom. Tim Johnson gets up close and personal with a honey bee, and Mr. McDowell surprises a deer in the woods.
More than just pretty nature pictures, this calendar impresses upon the viewer the nobility and fragility of the many creatures who share this Island with us. The Felix Neck Advisory Committee now compiles the calendar, and sales benefit the wildlife sanctuary’s Natural History program. However, a note to buyers: the dates on the January page are off by one day, and corrected replacement pages are available at several vendor locations. Call 508-627-4850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, as they have since 2006, Lisa Vanderhoop’s lovingly photographed dogs cavort through the pages of her annual Vineyard Seadogs Calendar. They will capture the heart of every dog lover from the very front cover — a dory piled high with fluffy baby golden retrievers.
Each month features personality-packed pups, some solo, some in pairs or motley groups — living the good dog’s life on Martha’s Vineyard. One-line quotations or phrases beneath each photo capture the mood.
“If you obey all the rules you miss the fun,” aptly accompanies the happily disheveled band of aussiedoodle puppies splashing at Lambert’s Cove Beach. A French bulldog boogie boards; others hurl themselves into waves, roll in sand.
Ms. Vanderhoop rose at dawn to snap the tranquil image of her husband, Buddy Vanderhoop, fishing with their young weimaraner, Wiley, at the Gay Head Herring Creek while an osprey soared overhead.
“How beautiful it is to do nothing, then rest afterwards,” muses the rag-tag crew of furry friends soaking up sun at “Squid Row” in Menemsha. Dark glasses on Keeper, the lounging golden retriever, add to the easy livin’ feel.
It will be hard to wait a year before turning to next December where young Newfoundland huggiebear, a fuzzy, funny ball of black and white fur, romps and tumbles on a snowy Aquinnah beach.
Vineyard Serenity Calendar
Photographer James Blanchard has gathered a year’s worth of peaceful and inspirational images for this new calendar. From beach to meadow to lighthouse to ocean, with wonderful light from changing skies at dawn and dusk, these are the kind of photographs that make the viewer say “Ahhhhhh…” and take a deep, probably well-needed breath.
Mr. Blanchard has pledged to donate $5 for every $20 calendar sold to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services for addiction recovery programs.
Another recent entry in the calendar market, the Vineyard Colors Calendar already has a following among those familiar with its nearly legendary beginnings. When economic pressures drove professionals Moira Fitzgerald and Yann Meersemman to deliver newspapers for a living, they made the most of the early-morning hours to take photos and post them online. Now some of these images are collected in a calendar.
In January we feel the silent chill as snow frosts empty Campground cottages. Horses watch the photographer warily across a snowy up-Island stone wall, barely touched by morning light.
That clear, early daylight is seen again and again, here accenting a white, flower-covered fence in Edgartown. The Campground is seen once again, now transformed in August, brightly colored, hung with lanterns in a photograph so fittingly titled “Grand Illumination.”
In a particularly striking shot, a nearly transparent full moon floats, just about to set, over sleepy Vineyard Haven village in early morning. For sheer lushness, turn to September’s photo, sunrise over Sengekontacket Pond, a truly “rosy-fingered dawn.”
West Tisbury poet Dan Waters enhances the months with spare and fitting quatrains, choosing his words for the right mix, at once light and thoughtful.
These 2014 calendars are available in various Island shops and can be found online. Many include dates for annual events, Island phone numbers, and other useful information.