West Tisbury: "Birding by Subway"


I was walking around the yard this morning, thinking, trying to come up with something interesting for this week’s column. Once inside, drinking coffee and skimming through my New York Times, I found an essay by Francis X. Clines on the editorial page, “Take the A Train, as in Audubon.” It was about the 14-acre preserve John James Audubon bought when he retired, remote from the city long ago, now engulfed by part of West 55th Street; the ongoing work of the New York City Audubon Society; a program called “Birding by Subway”; and the fact that New York City is full of active birders and birding enthusiasts. One can travel by subway to various sanctuaries, or just look out an apartment window. It never occurred to me that one could live in the middle of a city and engage in observing a quite broad range of wildlife.

Joanne Scott and I had gone out for lunch at the Harbor View last week, a belated celebration of her birthday, and an opportunity to have their delicious s’mores for dessert. One of our conversation topics was birds. Joanne is a walker and beachgoer, an observer of nature. So we compared notes on birds we have seen along our perambulations. Nothing esoteric or extraordinary, mostly shorebirds along the beaches and marshes. It was certainly a surprise to read this morning that subway riders on their way around a dense city may be doing something similar.

Mr. Clines’ article ended with the question, “What would Audubon have made of the subway, or the subway’s maps urging riders to thread a path to where birds beautifully gather? ‘Never give up listening to the sounds of birds,’ was his advice.”

That said, I shifted my attention to coffee and the views outside my windows, as the rest of the day’s news and opinions was all pretty bleak. Crossword puzzle will come later.

Our world is turning into softly colored and softly drawn spring vistas. The architecture of trees is wrapped in fresh chartreuse or yellow or shades of pink. Lawns need mowing after all the rain. Laundry is flapping, drying in the wind.

The Kids’ Fishing Derby was a big success, despite a downpour last Saturday morning. Great to have Duarte’s Pond stocked and ready for young anglers. I have seen the occasional fisherman at the Mill Pond, too, mostly dads and young sons dropping a line in after school and work. Maybe some of these kids will become the avid outdoorsmen of their generation. They are getting a good start.

Another thing Joanne had mentioned during our lunch was the plan for her granddaughter, Bianca Stafford’s, 4th birthday on May 4. Bianca’s parents, Katie and Ben, had invited 12 of Bianca’s friends and their families to an arts and crafts birthday party at the P.A. Club Saturday afternoon. Belated happy birthday, Bianca.

Vineyard Montessori’s annual fundraiser, A Big Night Out, is this Saturday, May 13, at the Harbor View Hotel. Phil DaRosa’s band will provide the music for dancing, and accompany the eating and drinking, all for $30 per person. There will also be live and silent auctions. Deborah Jernegan is in charge; call her at 508 693-4090, or look at their website, vineyardmontessori.com.

If you are interested in participating in the annual horseshoe crab surveys, new and full moons in May and June are the times they are conducted. Free training sessions at Felix Neck are next Wednesday, May 17, 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Join the effort to gather data on and help preserve this ancient marine species. To volunteer, call Savannah Lawson at 508-627-4850, ext. 9412, or email sklawson@massaudubon.org.

At 7 pm on the 17th, Nate Davies and the Old Courthouse Road Re-Use Committee invite West Tisbury residents to their meeting. The discussion will focus on ideas for the future use of the old fire station and its surrounding lot/land.

Thursday evening, May 18, the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Group will hold An Evening Under the Stars at Farm Neck, 5:30 to 8:30 pm. Appetizers, a buffet dinner, dessert, and a silent auction will be the order of the evening. There will be a cash bar. All money raised at this annual event goes directly to Islanders and their families who are dealing with cancer. For reservations or more information, call Annemarie Donohue at 508-627-7958.

At the West Tisbury library this week: Saturday, May 13, come to the Mini Maker Faire at the Ag Hall. The daylong event, 10 am to 4 pm, is an opportunity for kids and their families to explore artifacts from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Make, create, learn, invent, craft, think, play, celebrate, and be inspired by science, technology, the arts, engineering, and math. Thanks to all the Island libraries and the museum for coordinating this event.

At 3 pm, Jellybone Rivers and the Maniacs of the Heart will perform at a rock concert for kids at the library. Two events on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm: Lynn Christoffers will be in the Children’s Room, taking free portraits of all grandmothers, mothers, special aunties, and families in honor of Mother’s Day. Author Nancy Safford will read and discuss her new book, “A Magdalene Awakens: Hidden Temple Secrets,” in the Program Room. Kanta Lipsky will lead her Balance Workshop on Monday, May 15, at 11:30 am. From 6 to 8 pm, there will be an artist’s reception for Richard Limber, artist of the month for May. Wednesday, May 17, 5 pm, Sophie Abrams will speak about Organics Feasibility and the results of an Island-wide study and future of organics waste management.

Put this on your calendar for next Saturday, May 20. Everyone will have an opportunity to thank Linda Hearn for her 15 years on the library board of trustees. The party will begin at 3 pm. As with all library parties, there will be delicious food, good company, and good cheer.

Join the Friends of the Up-Island Council on Aging for a free lunch on Tuesday, May 16. Come at noon to enjoy the company and the music played by John Harris on the piano. Lunch is served at 12:30 pm. Call Tanya at 508-693-2896; preregistration is required.

Among all the other Mother’s Day festivities, take some time to attend the annual Mother’s Day Flower Show at Featherstone Center for the Arts. It opens on Sunday, May 14, 4 to 6 pm.

Kathleen Samways announces the forming and scheduling of a new group, “My Life My Health,” a program designed to help people with chronic health conditions to self-manage their conditions. Among the illnesses to be addressed are diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and pain. You may contact Kathleen at 508 627-5797, ext. 114, or infomvph@ihimv.org.

Now the column is done. Time to get back to my big project, weeding the books in the bookcase in our living room. I had planned it as a chore Mike and I could work on together while he is still home much of the day. Well, that didn’t happen. We immediately disagreed on how to proceed, so I took all of Mike’s books off the shelves for him to go through, then I can put back what he wants to keep, and finish the job myself. We have already taken four boxes of books to the shed for the Friends’ book sale.

I don’t know anyone who has a big enough bookcase. I don’t know anyone who has a bookcase that looks like the ones with open space and decorative bibelots that one sees in house magazines or on home shows. Ours is the bookcase of book lovers. Books are arranged by category and they are referred to and reread frequently. I do hope, though, that by the time I finish, it will at least be neater, with everything shelved, no more piles along the wide front shelf. No easy task.