West Tisbury: Mike's Aunt Dorothy


There is a funny, much-repeated story in the Hull family about Mike’s Aunt Dorothy, who arrived at a family gathering and announced, “I just ran into the nicest man.” She was a notably bad driver, and her announcement was a literal statement of fact.

I thought of that story as I began my column this week, planning to relay a meeting yesterday afternoon with Rez Williams and his brother, Jim. Fortunately, I did not “run into” anyone, but the expression was accurate in the sense of an unexpected meeting.

Mike and I had taken our dogs out for a walk on the beach. It was a lovely, sunny afternoon, cooler than the past few sweltering days. A beach walk seemed like the perfect thing. As we arrived, Rez was walking toward his truck. We said hi, and he introduced us to the nicest man, his brother, Jim Williams, here for a three-week visit with Rez and Lucy. We talked for quite a while, and learned that Jim had been a volunteer fireman and Shaker furniture maker. An interesting conversation ensued, and we all hope to catch up with one another again before Jim returns home.

Mike and I were at the Post Office last week and ran into Sam Stevenson. Of course, we stopped to chat. I mentioned that I hoped to get up to their place to see the daffodil display, one of the most beautiful ever, a pilgrimage I mean to repeat every spring. Sam said, “Come up now. They are the best this year.” So we did. Cathy was home, and came out to give me a tour, while Mike and Sam ignored the daffodils and compared notes on power equipment. If you have never seen the Stevensons’ hillside, it is an awesome sight. Wordsworth’s poem could have been written about it. Sam’s mother started planting daffodils around the house in the 1940s. When Sam and Cathy took over the property, they expanded the plantings, five bulbs to a hole, down the slope from their house, around the pond, along the driveway, the stone walls, out to the woods that surround the property. All have multiplied over the years. I plan to go every spring, and have missed too many. A nice opportunity for an impromptu visit with friends, too.

Another trip to the Post Office led to another surprise encounter, and an invitation to lunch with Linda Vadasz. I don’t know why we are all so busy, but it seems that we are, so I am grateful for serendipity and fast decisions. We met at 7A and walked across the street to eat in the blue Adirondack chairs on the library’s side porch. It was a lovely, sunny day. I may have been wearing shorts. What fun to have an unexpected hour with a friend, eating and laughing, catching up on our news.

Since we are at the library already, here is the list of events coming up this week. An annual seedling swap is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 1 to 3 pm. Bring heirloom vegetable, flower, or fruit seedlings or cuttings to share. Sunday, May 7, Cesar Atzic Marquez invites performers and listeners to the final open chamber music rehearsal of the season. It begins at 3 pm. Kanta Lipsky will lead a free Balance Workshop on Monday, May 8, at 11:30 am. The monthly “Writers Read” will begin at 7 pm that evening. Helene Barr will teach a free floral design workshop on Wednesday, May 10, at 10:30. Flowers will be provided, but participants are asked to bring their own vase and scissors, and any extra flowers or greenery they may wish to use. The library is offering a Learning Lab for Kids ages 8 and up to work on homework, learn coding, and other tech activities. It will meet weekday afternoons, 3 to 4:30, through the month of May.

While at the library last week, you might have noticed that Beth Kramer was not at her usual post. Beth and her friend, “Carolyn, from Rhode Island,” spent the week in Paris. This is the note she sent me upon her return. “We managed to squeeze a lot into our week — Jardin du Luxembourg, the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, the Pantheon, Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Chapelle, Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur, and lots of walking (and shopping!). The weather was terrible (so much for April in Paris!). My highlight was buying bread from Poilâne, the best bread bakery in the world, according to some. My friend’s highlight was the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysées.” Welcome home, Beth.

Bill Wilcox and the Dukes Conservation District announce a lecture and discussion, “What’s the Buzz on Nature Bees, and How You Can Put Them to Work on Your Crops,” to be held at the Ag Hall on Tuesday, May 9, 7 to 9 pm. The speaker will be Linda Rinta, a farmer, beekeeper, and member of the Xerces Society.

There will be a public meeting on Wednesday, May 17, at 7 pm, to discuss possible future uses for the old fire station and property on Old Courthouse Road. The Old Courthouse Road Re-Use Committee will host the meeting at Howes House.

Many of you know that Mike had surgery a couple of weeks ago to repair a macular hole in his left eye. He has been through the face-down period, and is now able to drive around town and be somewhat more active. He still can’t lift anything more than five pounds, and prefers me to drive if we are together. We had an errand in Vineyard Haven last week, so we got into my Jeep and started off. I asked if he would like to take “the scenic route” along Lambert’s Cove Road; he said, “Yes.” As we approached Cottle’s, he looked to his right, taking in the scene with a wistful expression on his face. I asked if he would like to stop in. “No,” he said, but I knew his heart was longing for the smell of wood and sawdust, for the formerly daily banter with Gloria and the guys, for running into his brother unexpectedly, for the rhythm that set the pattern of his days.