West Tisbury: The Derby begins


Sweet autumn clematis is out in all its seasonal splendor, vines twining through shrubbery or spilling over fences, a mass of fragrant white flowers. Goldenrod and asters, pairings of yellow and lavender or deep purple, make showy displays in the garden and in the wild. Sunflowers and corn are “as high as an elephant’s eye,” as Curly sang in “Oklahoma!” (Just fact-checked and found scenes from “Oklahoma!” on YouTube. Gordon MacRae is as handsome and Shirley Jones as beautiful as I remembered them. So is the music, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration.)

I am sad to report that Jane Farrow died last Friday in Florida. She and Ted were inspirational to me when I moved here and met them in 1982. They had Tashtego back then, and so much style and pizzazz. They were the embodiment of all I admired from art school, with their love of modern design and art, plus the warmth and graciousness that made everyone feel so welcome in their orbit. Jane never lost a bit of it as she aged. She remained as vivacious and fun as ever, and much loved. Who could leave a better legacy than that?

The Derby began at 12:01 Sunday morning. It was clear with a full moon. I wish all participants good weather and good fishing.

There will be a workshop this Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Polly Hill Arboretum. “The Finest Cut: Taking the Fear Out of Pruning,” with horticulturalist and arborist Ian Jochems, will meet from 1 to 4 pm, and will be repeated on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Tools will be supplied. Cost is $20, $10 for members. Preregister at 508-693-9426.

The West Tisbury library has planned the following programs for the upcoming week:

Thursday, Sept. 14, 7 to 8 pm, Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council will hold an informational meeting for potential applicants for art and cultural initiatives in FY 2018.

Saturday, Sept. 16, 10 am, Jennifer Knight will lead “Empowered Mamas Workshop,” a program for mothers using guided visualization, breath work, journaling, and expressive arts. Sign up at the library.

Monday, Sept. 18, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop. At 7 pm, WMVY’s Dave Kish will show a jazz-themed film and lead a discussion afterward.

Tuesday, Sept. 19, a visiting nurse from VNA of Cape Cod will be available from noon to 1:30 pm to check blood pressures and answer health-related questions.

Wednesday, Sept. 20, Alison Levy, health journalist, and Liz Witham, environmental film producer, will lead a discussion about climate change and how it relates to health.

FYI: Coming up, the library will show a live simulcast featuring Dr. Atul Gawande, author of “Being Mortal,” on Monday, Sept. 25, at 5 pm. Sign up at the library.

I have spent much of the past two weekends obsessed with news coverage of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It made me wonder about our own storm preparedness here in West Tisbury, so I called John Christensen, director of the Emergency Management Committee. His committee and those from other towns across the Island work regularly with Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to update plans, equipment, and training. The Oak Bluffs School would become a shelter, and West Tisbury emergency personnel would set up in the Public Safety Building, Station 2. The Island shelter will allow you to bring your pets.

The good news is that we are inland and high enough in elevation that storm flooding is unlikely to affect us. The marshes along our shoreline are also protective. There are a couple of spots on Tiah’s Cove Road and along the great ponds that might flood in a Category 4 storm, but mostly what we can expect is wind and salt damage, trees down, losing our electricity. There are plans for clearing up after the storm with heavy machinery and chainsaws.

John said what is most important is basically common sense. Don’t wait till the last minute before a storm; these are things that are easy to do to be prepared. Make sure to keep some canned food and bottled water on hand. Have flashlights and a battery-operated radio, with extra batteries. Refill prescriptions regularly. Keep your car filled up with gas. Have leashes/halters and carriers for your pets, and extra pet food. If we are really getting a storm, fill your bathtub and big pots with water. Bring in your outdoor furniture and flowerpots. Check on your neighbors.

We are lucky to live in a place where most of us are used to being independent and practical, used to planning ahead, used to working together, and looking out for one another. Still, my heart goes out to so many people who have lost everything in these storms, here and across the Caribbean, as well as the floods and earthquakes in Mexico and Asia. The power of nature is awesome. And humbling.