West Tisbury


The ground is still covered with snow. There have been a couple of milder days with temperatures above freezing, but mostly it’s been windy and cold, cold, cold. Single digits cold with minus wind chills.

My kitten, Nelson, is proving less an outdoorsman than his namesake, Nelson Bryant. My little Nelson took one look at the snow on our porch and refused to step outside, preferring a spot by the woodstove or curled up on the sofa. The dogs love it though, frolicking together as I walk back and forth between the house and the wood pile. I have been grateful that Mike has indoor work.

Linda Hearn and I attended last Tuesday’s Garden Club meeting to hear Tom Hodgson talk about vegetable gardening at his Wishetwurra Farm. Tom and Christine have one of the most amazing gardens I have ever seen. His photographs illustrated an informative, inspiring lecture on aspects ranging from building soil and starting seeds to preserving the harvest. It made me run home to look at thetompostpile, Tom’s blog, and to start looking at seed catalogues.

West Tisbury members were in charge of refreshments. Someone made the best chocolate cookies ever. Would you share the recipe? I would love to have it.

There are quite a variety of classes to take this winter. Here are some possibilities:

Jennifer Fragosa will teach a waterfront lifeguarding course leading to American Red Cross Life Saving certification at the Mansion House Health Club beginning February 4. A pre-test will be held on Sunday, February 2, at 3 pm. Classes run through March 6. Participants will learn teamwork, rescue, and surveillance skills, recognizing and responding to aquatic emergencies, and preventing drownings and injuries. Please call Jennifer Fragosa at 508-693-2200 or look online at mvmansionhouse.com.

Cynthia Riggs and Howard Attebery are hosting the 26th Groundhog Day celebration this Sunday, February 2, 5–7 pm, at the Cleaveland House. Park in the west pasture off New Lane, bring an hors d’oeuvre (or not) and enjoy a get-together with your neighbors. This annual event has added a political component over the years, as clipboards of nomination papers are passed around and there is plenty of political talk along with regular catching-up with the latest news.

The Heath Hen is offering sewing, crochet, and knitting classes beginning in February. Jan Paul and Anna Marie D’Addarie have designed classes for kids and adults, beginners, and skilled crafters. Call 508-696-6730 for the full schedule, times, and cost. Or stop by. There’s always lots to look at.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum is also offering classes in genealogy, oral histories, and decoy carving. All are on Saturdays and cost $20 each. Stop by or call the museum at 508-627-4441, ext. 110, or email frontdesk@mvmuseum.org.Not being on the library board any more, I have followed the building’s progress along with everyone else in town by driving by, looking across from Alley’s front porch, looking at the library’s website or facebook. I’ll admit to snooping through the windows one evening. I’m looking forward to a tour this week. Linda Hearn and Beth Kramer have described things to me, but it’s not the same as walking through the space, so I am eager for Tuesday at noon. Expect a full report in next week’s column.

My other source of information is Ben Moore, architect of the original building. Ben has been taking tours all the way along and reports that he is pleased with the project. I think that is a pretty good accolade.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of church suppers in my home town of Ridgefield, Connecticut. The old Methodist Church, a rather Gothic dark structure, and the elegant Federal-style St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church were in the center of town, and the Congregational Church farther up Main Street all hosted suppers I can still see in my mind. Remember this was the 1950s, so everything was probably made with Campbell’s soup. Still, I remember walking over with my parents into brightly lit vestry halls with tablecloths on the tables and an array of dishes arranged on a long table in front of the kitchen. Hams, spaghetti and meatballs, scalloped potatoes, creamed vegetables, and casseroles of every description. The best part was the warmth of the room and the assembled neighbors.

Ridgefield was very much like West Tisbury in those days. It had a larger downtown with a couple of blocks of stores and sidewalks, more like the down-Island towns, but the rest was mostly farmland with old working farms that had been in the same families for generations. It even had wealthy summer residents. Everyone knew each other.

To get to the point, these memories come back to me when I read about the church suppers that have become a social gathering here in the winter. Every town has one. West Tisbury’s are Wednesday evenings, 5:30-7 pm, in the church Parish Hall. Enter from Music Street.

It’s such a lovely tradition to gather as a community and share a meal. The food is much improved from the 1950s. Marjorie Peirce of our church has been an active gleaner all through the summer and fall, processing and storing food for West Tisbury’s suppers. Bring a dish to share if you like, or just bring yourself. Everyone is welcome.

I’m writing this Monday morning. It’s almost 45 degrees at our house, and I’m watching the melting snow running off of our roof. Talley has been sleeping in a patch of sun on our front porch all morning. Even Nelson ran around outside till he wore himself out. Nanuk came home from her morning’s travels in Mike’s truck. I can’t imagine our home without our animals. Even when they are annoying, they bring love and life and antics that make us laugh. They are among the many things I feel grateful for as I sit here typing away.