West Tisbury: Tiring the dogs out


What an “embarrassment of riches,” so many possibilities with which to begin this week’s column.

There’s the weather, of course. Another foot of snow and another weekend spent shoveling, plowing, keeping warm and amused. The wind added another dimension. If you drive past the airport along the Edgartown–West Tisbury Road, look at the snowdrifts. They appear as fantastic animals springing out toward the roadway. At least they do in my imagination. I think they are rather wonderful. And now more to come on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Then there is the boredom of a yellow Lab, a golden retriever, and a young cat with too much energy to be snowbound. Nelson has been tormenting the dogs nonstop. I suppose it’s a game to him, but to them it has been a continual irritation. Mike said, “He needs to get out and have a good hunt, but no self-respecting mouse would appear above the snow line in this.” Talley’s and Nan’s ears and tails don’t seem enough to dampen Nelson’s instinct for prey.

I was filled with admiration when I saw Tara Whiting and Dianne Powers the other evening, getting ready for a flashlit walk at Quenames with their dogs. Tara told me later that the flashlight batteries died midway and they stumbled the rest of the way in the dark. “But at least the dogs were tired out.”

Susie Middleton and Roy Riley were dragging bags of feed through the snow and down the hill to their chickens, a scene surely repeated all around town. Animals need care regardless of weather conditions, so I cite Susie and Roy while knowing well that many farmers are digging their way out to barns and pens and coops.

Leslie Baker just called, and we wondered how Wendy Weldon is managing with housebreaking her new puppy in all this snow. I have only seen pictures, so far, of Wendy’s as-yet unnamed yellow Lab, who looks so much like Talley did when I first brought her home. I am already in love with this new puppy.

Last week, Leslie and I were invited to tea at Ruth Kirchmeier’s house. Ruth showed us Jeff Bryant’s chicken coop and his hen, Chickie, who has eschewed her coop to roost in a tree outside Ruth and Nelson’s kitchen window. Hope she stayed safe in the storm. Looking at Ruth’s new woodcut and Leslie’s latest monotypes was exciting, too.

Ruth told us a wonderful story when I asked if she had spoken to Bob Henry, husband of Selina Trieff, who died last week. Selina told Bob she wanted to paint for awhile, so he set her up in her studio and went into his own adjoining studio. When he looked in to check on Selina a little later, he found she had died. What artist wouldn’t want to die that way, working in our studio, head and eyes filled with pictures and ideas?

It was a sad week of losses in town. Mary Fischer, who was born and raised at Flat Point Farm, died after many years of illnesses, leaving her brother Arnie and sisters Eleanor Neubert and Jean O’Reilly. Richard Sher was the erudite and entertaining host of Says You! Josie Bruno, grande dame and preeminent wildflower gardener, died two days after her 97th birthday. Ellen Wetherbee, Kathy Sollitto’s beloved Aunt Ellen and dear to many, died at Falmouth Hospital. Chet Wisniewski lived on our road and died at home. Mev Good and Sonya Norton, known and respected Island-wide. Joy Robinson-Lynch’s mother, Estelle Robinson, mother, grandmother, and regular visitor to West Tisbury. Sue Dawson’s mother Marilyn died at Windemere. Condolences to all who will miss them.

Ernie Mendenhall’s retirement party last Friday was one of the best parties Mike and I have attended: West Tisbury at its best, and so much of what I love about our town. Over the years we come together for happy occasions and sad, so many of us who have worked together and been friends, members of our community in all ways possible. It felt like a small, homey gathering. Even the speeches of our three selectmen, though laudatory and from the podium at the library, still felt informal. West Tisbury potlucks are the best, and this was no exception. It was good to all be together, and able to get there in this winter of constant weather, and to thank Ernie for so many jobs well done.

Although I don’t own one, I will admit that iPhones are good for a lot. You can look up information quickly wherever you are, keep notes, phone numbers, and directions to places unknown, and best of all, take and show off pictures.

Jane Rossi and I were shopping at Cronig’s last week, stocking up before the predicted blizzard, when we ran into each other, and I asked after her new granddaughter. Out came the iPhone and out scrolled the pictures of Sloan Elizabeth Rossi, daughter of Ryan and Ellen. She smiled and showed herself on the screen as Jane told me all about her. Of course, Jane is besotted and enjoying her role as a new grandmother. Jane and I have known each other since before she and Dan were married, or Mike and me. We both laughed about still feeling like those young girls we were. And neither of us looks so old, either. The image of a grandmother sure has changed.