West Tisbury: The nice things about September

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It feels like a perfect fall day. It was cold this morning when we took our walk. The dogs still went into the water, but I walked along the beach wearing a cozy flannel shirt and observing the colors changing along the shore. Beach roses have huge red hips. Poison ivy and sumac are turning red, too. Grasses are fading, and the landscape is framed in a thicket of goldenrod.

I begin this week’s news with the passing of Ernie Mendenhall. Building and Zoning Inspector, fireman, EMT, sailor, builder, tinkerer with almost anything mechanical, husband, father, dear friend. I don’t know why, but my mother’s description of Heaven when we were young kids came into my mind. She told us that in Heaven everyone had their own cloud. You would have everything special that you wanted on your cloud. So I started thinking about Ernie’s cloud.

His youngest daughter, Megan, helped me, and I think we covered everything. Here goes: Ernie’s cloud will be set as an island in the ocean, with a beautiful port, a sailboat tied to the dock, always a good wind. On the island itself would be a library of endless new books, a comfortable reading chair, strong coffee, BLTs made with iceberg lettuce, good steaks perfectly cooked, a workshop with every tool he could wish for, and a used car lot next door.

I was glad Ernie got to the Ag Fair this summer, glad that the Ag Hall will be the place his memorial service will be held this Saturday, Sept. 26, at 3 o’clock. There will be a potluck after the service, so please bring a side dish or dessert to share. Bring your memories and stories, too, and if you like, Kathy asks other car and truck aficionados to drive their oldest or favorite vehicle to the service. A fitting tribute to Ernie, the ultimate gearhead.

Sincere condolences to Kathy Logue, Megan Mendenhall, Brad Mendenhall and Lisa Strachan, Cheryl and Erik Lowe and their children Emily and Aaron, Trish and Herb Pelkey and their children Marie Betit, Caitlin and Nash Pelkey, and Ernie’s brother Lee and his wife Mary Anne and their daughters. And to Margaret Logue; Ernie really did love his mother-in-law.

One of the nice things about September is catching up with friends you haven’t seen or talked with all summer. Linda Alley was one of those friends. I found out that she had stopped making mustards and concentrated on her jams and jellies. Two new flavors, grapefruit marmalade (made at the request of Dan Waters — it’s his favorite) and lavender nectarine, have been great successes. Linda has been busy making beach plum jelly. She picked over 200 pounds of beach plums that made about 120 jars. She has made batches of choke cherry jelly, too. Autumn olive comes next.

I asked about Linda’s brother. Jamie directed “The Cat’s Meow” at the Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain. Linda actually went off-Island during the summer to see it. “My brother directed it, and it was great, a murder mystery about William Randolph Hearst, set on his boat.”

Sunday afternoon I went to Lia Kahler’s benefit concert for the homeless and veterans. She was joined by Richard Gordon on the piano, Phil Dietterich on the organ, and Cesar Atzic Marquez on the viola. The concert was fabulous. Loads of familiar West Tisbury faces, including Debby and Harry Athearn, who invited me out to dinner after the performance. We had a great time and caught up on all the Athearn family news. I had commented on how nice it was to see Simon raising his family in his great-uncle Leonard’s house down on Town Cove. The whole Athearn clan had gathered there on Sept. 15, to celebrate what would have been their father, Mike’s, hundredth birthday had he lived. Four siblings and their children and grandchildren: Harry and Debby Athearn; Jim and Debbie Athearn; Connie and Bob Taylor; John Athearn. Also attending were Great-Uncle Clifton Athearn, cousin Charlie Kernick and his wife, Stevie, and Connie’s friend Karen Kidder, who grew up in West Tisbury.

Several West Tisbury artists are exhibiting at the former Beadnik’s on Church Street in Vineyard Haven. The group has been out painting en plein aire at several sites around the island. It’s a beautiful show. They have planned several events: Paint With an Artist on Thursday, Sept. 24, 6 to 8 pm; Music in the Gallery Friday, Sept. 25, 6 to 8 pm, and Tuesday, Sept. 29, 6 to 8 pm; and An Artist Demonstration next Sunday, Sept. 27, 6 to 8 pm. The nine painters are Leslie Baker, Lowely Finnerty, Judith Howells, Kanta Lipsky, Marjorie Mason, June Schoppe, Kate Taylor, Liz Taft, and Valentine. The show will be open daily from noon to 5 pm through Sept. 29.

The West Tisbury library, in collaboration with the Healthy Aging Task Force, will host a discussion on hospice care on Martha’s Vineyard on Monday, Sept. 28, at 5:30 pm. Ellen McCabe, director of professional education at Hope Health/Hope Hospice, and Terre Young, executive director of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, will speak and answer questions.

The Friends of the Library have written the following statement: “As year-round sorters of books donated to the library book sale, we would like to thank all who bring us their clean, intact books. Lately, we have received a lot of books that are moldy, mildewy, or have missing covers, pages falling out or bindings torn or missing. In less than a month we have filled a large dumpster almost to the top. Even though these books are recycled, it costs a lot each time we have to have the dumpster emptied. This is money the library could use. So please look over your books before you bring them over, and if they are in poor condition, put them in your recycling and save us the time and money. Thank you. P.S. Textbooks, Bibles, magazines, phone books and travel books older than two years are also not acceptable.”

I have noticed the light changing. It’s dark enough by 7 o’clock to put the porch light on for Mike when he comes home. The sliver moon is growing into a half moon. The last couple of nights have been cold enough to pull up the quilt. Time to look for the flannel sheets. Mike has been working on our woodpile, getting ready for the eventual nightly fires in our woodstove. Every simple dinner of fish, salad, and corn on the cob feels like it will soon be the last till next year.