West Tisbury: We are all together


The down-Island Cronig’s felt like a town meeting last Sunday. I ran into everyone there. Danny Whiting was standing outside, then Ken and Roe Belain came along. Inside, Betsey Mayhew and I were catching up with each other’s news when Pat Mitchell ambled along down the aisle. Then came Angie Waldron pushing her cart. At the checkout were Melissa Hackney and Kate Warner.

I have been trying to preplan my marketing to accommodate the Sunday closure of our up-Island store, but happened to be down-island for a class at the Hebrew Center. (We have a wonderful interim rabbi, Daniel Schaffer, while Rabbi Broitman is away on sabbatical. He is leading concurrent series of discussions on alternate Sundays: the Book of Exodus, in preparation for Passover, and one on civil justice.) It was easy to stop in on my way home to pick up something for dinner, and a treat to run into so many West Tisbury neighbors.

Angie told me the date for a graveside service for Eleanor Waldron, her and Joannie Jenkinson’s mother, who died last week. The service will be Tuesday, March 14, at 2 o’clock at the West Tisbury cemetery. We chatted for awhile, and told stories about Mrs. Waldron. Many years ago, when I was a new gardener, she gave me a clump of a variegated Solomon’s seal that I had admired in her yard. It has come up and spread every year since, as an underplanting for my rhododendron hedge. It feels even more special now.

Later in the afternoon, I stopped in to the West Tisbury library to watch some dancing and singing as Jellybone Rivers and his band played and swayed with what seemed like every small child in town. The parking lot was packed, and so was the Program Room, with parents and grandparents and dancing kids. If you ever need a cheery sight to brighten your day, just come to the library during one of these programs. It was the most fun.

My busy Sunday followed a busy Friday, as a group of us took Blue Cullen off-Island for the day to celebrate her birthday. Nice to have a friend with a midwinter birthday, especially one who has such varied interests and enthusiasms that planning an outing seems effortless. This one was to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, where we saw an exhibition called “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain.” Candy DaRosa, Nancy Rogers, Debbie Hale, Blue, and I met at the 8:15 boat, then the shuttle bus, and settled into the Hales’ off-Island car for our trip. Traffic was easy and we made good time, arriving as planned for lunch at the Hawthorne Inn. It was lovely — the food, the staff, the waiter who took pictures of all of us, and was very gracious that we brought our own dessert, mini éclairs from the Black Dog. Blue and Candy’s mother, Ella Cullen, always made éclairs for Blue’s birthday. Now Candy makes them, but who can have too many éclairs?

Then to the museum, which was fabulous. Blue loves shoes. Big time. The entrance to the show was built out of shoe boxes with display cases set into the “wall.” There were tiny embroidered silk shoes that looked like they were made for babies; they fit Chinese ladies whose feet had been bound to the size of something barely larger than the width of their ankles. There were embroidered slippers with elegantly curled toes made for Oriental pashas, silk and beribboned slippers made for Victorian ladies and gentlemen, the boots worn by the Duke of Wellington at Trafalgar, creamy leather Courreges go-go boots from the 1960s, hand-beaded shoes designed to be worn at President Kennedy’s Inauguration, shoes made for Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mum, knee-high platform sequined boots worn by Elton John, Harley biker boots. A surprising number of platform shoes in a variety of materials and from a variety of periods and cultures. How anyone ever walked was a miracle.

The most recognizable modern shoes came from contemporary designers like Alexander McQueen, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Zaha Hadid, Jimmy Choo, and Prada. Interestingly, there were the wooded forms from a bespoke British firm, from careful fittings with names like Fred Astaire and the Duke of Windsor written on them. The show was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum and included famous collections of shoes, numbering in the hundreds, as well as individual examples. Some were pretty wild, with names that were clever puns referring to the designs and colors. Being pretty conservative myself, my favorite was a pair of salmon red Prada slip-on loafers, very flat heels, made of the softest leather I have ever seen. But those go-go boots reminded me of my youth, wearing short dresses, riding around Ridgefield on Gary Drake’s Vespa. Oh, my …

Another West Tisbury friend who had a birthday last week was Tom Thatcher. He turned 90, surrounded by friends and admirers.

As we prepare for our annual town meeting and election next month, the election ballot has just been posted. Most of the positions are single candidates for re-election, but there are a few contested races, and some candidates who haven’t run for office before. At the head of the list is the race for selectman; Kent Healy is running against incumbent Richard Knabel. Three candidates are running for a three-year term on the library board: Elaine Barnett, Robert Hauck, and Wendy Nierenberg. There are two other library trustee positions: Amy Falvo Hoff is running for a two-year spot, and Gina Solon is running for re-election for one year. New names are John Powers, running for constable, and Mary Robin Ravitch (Binnie) is running for Land Bank commissioner. There are a couple of ballot questions, too, regarding rental mopeds and establishing a regional housing bank.

Valentine Estabrook is artist of the month at the West Tisbury library, where an artist’s reception will be held this Saturday afternoon, 4 to 5 pm, to open her show of paintings. It’s called “Spacewalk,” inspired by images from the Hubble Space Telescope. On Sunday afternoon, March 5, the kids’ (age 8 and up) Chess Club will meet at 1:30. Kanta Lipsky leads a balance workshop on Monday at 11:30, followed by soup, bread, and conversation. Sign-up is required: 508-693-3366. A new episode of MVTV’s “Martha’s Vineyard Signs Then and Now” will be shown at 4 pm on Wednesday, March 8.

Polly Hill Arboretum and Gray Barn are offering an opportunity to learn about and practice “Fruit Tree Pruning,” this Saturday, March 4, from 10 am to 2 pm. Meet at the arboretum with work gloves, safety glasses, and your lunch. Tools will be provided. Preregister at 508-693-9426.

The March meeting of the Neighborhood Convention will be Tuesday, March 7, 11 am, at the Federated Church in Edgartown. Guests Ann Smith and Nancy Blank will speak about Featherstone and the arts. Bring your own lunch.

It’s Daffodil Time. The Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group will be selling daffodils for $10 a bunch on Friday, March 17. They will arrive at Edgartown Stop and Shop, Reliable Market in Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven Cronig’s at 9 am, and at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital at 11 am. One hundred percent of the money collected goes to help Island cancer patients and their families with medical expenses, lodging, and food during off-Island treatment.

We haven’t even needed a fire at night for much of the past week. Green shoots are coming up everywhere with these warm, sunny days we have been having. Our dogs have been perfectly jaunty, wanting to be in and out all day, even though they get a good walk every morning.

Nelson has been busy, too, always wanting to be on whichever side of the door he isn’t. His cat flap isn’t good enough; he yowls at the kitchen door until Mike or I get up and let him in or out. We are thinking about changing his name to Nelson Indecision Underfoot. Anyone who has a cat will understand. He stands at the door until you open it, then sits down to have a good think. And “Underfoot” is self-explanatory. That’s where he usually is. Of course, at night he settles into my lap and purrs. Talley comes up on the sofa with Nelson and me, and Nanuk takes either to her dog bed or the spot right by Mike’s feet. Our goldfish, Edgardo, whom I rarely mention, swims around in his tank. We are all together.