West Tisbury: October, the month to catch up with friends


Lynne Whiting referred to our recent weather as “a nice New England welcome!” She, Allen, Bea, Asa, and Patrick Ruel returned last week from a visit to Salt Lake City, where they attended the wedding of Lynne’s nephew, Dominic Franciose, to Laurel Carnes. Lynne described “a wonderful reunion for me and my three siblings, our nine children and their partners/spouses, and four grandchildren. We also had a lovely gathering remembering my mom, Mary Erickson, as we spread her ashes in the Memory Garden at Holladay United Church of Christ. The weather was dry and hot, so coming home to the current wind and rain was a nice New England welcome!”

Some might describe it differently, but I agree with Lynne. I have always loved a storm, and last week was several days of wind and, finally, good soaking rain. Reports range from 3½ to 5½ inches around town. I guess there were some branches down, but no major damage, and we really needed this rain. Ponds are looking replenished. The landscape is no longer crackling underfoot. I hope our water table will be sufficient to maintain trees and shrubs through the coming winter.

During Pope Francis’s visit to America, he spoke repeatedly about climate change and the need for all of us to care for our natural environment. The Rev. Cathlin Baker and David Fielder of the West Tisbury Church have planned a series of three weekly meetings in response to the Pope’s encyclical. “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” begins this Thursday, Oct. 8, and continues Oct. 15 and 22. All are welcome to attend; friends from our community and other congregations are invited. Cathlin’s group will meet at 11 am, and David’s group will meet at 7 pm. Please sign up at wtiscong@comcast.net or on a sign-up sheet in the Parish Hall.

Last Saturday’s Living Local Harvest Festival seemed hardly daunted by the weather. The Ag Hall and tents outside were filled with visitors, vendors, displays, and information. It was fun to watch children trying experiments, making electricity light up and power toys. There were the most beautiful vegetables, Kate Warner’s bread-making demos, blankets and garments from the alpaca farm, charts for saving electricity and free night lights at Cape Light Compact’s table, and a whole tent full of seed-saving information and supplies.

The Antique Engine Show was on, too. Michael Cutler brought his 1933 Dodge pickup, polished to a fare-thee-well and complete with hood ornament. The museum was full of guys discussing the benefits and drawbacks of different pieces of equipment. All in all, a pretty good day.

We ran into Tommy Thomas there. His first words were, “She was tickled pink all day.” Mike had brought Nanuk over for a visit the day before. Nan knew right where she was. She ran down the hall and jumped up on Mari Harman’s bed, where kisses and hugs ensued. Nan had been Mari’s dog before we adopted her, but when she and Mari see each other, it’s always a love fest.

Before I forget, welcome back to Gail Gardner, and all good wishes to Linley Dolby, whatever you decide to do next. Edgartown was my first home on the Island, and I have been a devoted reader of both of your columns.

I ran into Tim Boland the other day and heard the beginning of the story of his annual trip to visit his family in northern Michigan. He very kindly sent this detailed version to share. This was Tim’s 25th consecutive September going to Lake Leelanau, a small town near Lake Michigan. The past few years have included trips to either South or North Manitou Island. This year was no exception. Tim and his sister, Shane, who teaches science at a nearby charter school, took the 1½-hour ferry ride to North Manitou Island, part of the National Park System since 1984. The island features virgin uncut forests, immense perched dunes, and spectacular views back to the mainland and to the islands beyond. Although accommodations have been restricted to backcountry camping since the island became a national park, this year Tim and Shane stayed in a friend’s cottage, the only one on the island: “To have a bed, electricity, stove, and running water seemed like the Ritz Carlton in comparison to tent camping.” They hiked over 20 miles of trails the first two days. On the last day, Tim took a solo trip to the southern portion of the island, beachcombing and looking at dune plants unique to the island. Many grass species are the same as on the Vineyard; however, the entire flora is much different, with very few oaks. Trees grow over 100 feet tall, spared from the lumberman’s saw during the great timber clearing of 1850-1900.

Back on the mainland, Tim visited his sister, Maura, in Traverse City, then went on to his hometown, Grand Rapids, to see his brother, David, and extended family. Tim will return in mid-October to lead a group of oak experts on a botanical foray to southwest Michigan. “The largest sugar maples and native beech grow in this area, and should be in peak fall color. Don’t be surprised if I come back with seeds!”

Rosalie Powell is starting a new class, Rug Hooking for Beginners, at her West Tisbury studio next Wednesday, Oct. 14. Classes will meet from 1 to 3 pm, continuing Oct. 21 and 28. Cost is $15. Please preregister: 508-693-1984.

Don’t forget that the library, schools, and town offices are closed for Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 12.

The good news is that next weekend, Oct. 18, the library begins Sunday hours, 1 to 5 pm. Special events this week are: Saturday, Oct. 10, 10:30 to 12:30, come build a fairy or troll house. The library has graciously given over its back garden as a haven for their homes. Some materials will be provided, but participants are asked to bring some to share. Bark, feathers, shells, seed pods, sticks, carved-out pumpkin shells, fur, pine cones, mosses and lichens, dried plants, and anything else you think might do. Call the library that morning if the weather looks iffy; the rain date is Thanksgiving weekend.

At 2:30 Saturday afternoon, botanical artist Elaine Searle will present “Floral Adventures: A Talk on Women Botanical Artists.” She will talk about both historical and contemporary artists, and include her own work. The program is in collaboration with Polly Hill Arboretum.

Thursday, Oct. 15, from 5 to 6 pm, there will be a conflict-resolution discussion in honor of National Conflict Awareness Day. Katherine Triantafillou, Richard Barbieri, Peter Melaney, and Roland Miller will lead the conversation about how mediation, restorative justice, peace circles, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution offer new ways of solving conflict.

Martha’s Vineyard Democratic Council will meet this Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 to 10:30, at the Howes House. The agenda includes updates and discussion of the presidential campaign and state convention, energy bill, study committee, and issues relevant to Island voters. Bernie Sanders’ campaign will be discussed at this meeting.

Of interest to Bernie Sanders fans, “Island Bern” is the Vineyard’s local chapter to get Bernie Sanders elected president. Their meetings are at the Howes House every first and third Monday at 7 pm.

Drinking tea with a friend is a good rainy-afternoon activity, so I was happy to be invited over to Chris Gruelich’s last week. Her house was warm and smelling of the chocolate confection heating in the oven. We had barely seen each other all summer, so this was a good opportunity to talk and catch up on everything. I don’t know where the summer went.