West Tisbury: Scents of spring


Hawks flew overhead this morning, swooping and sailing in a gray sky, rainy and gray after so many sunny days in a row. Our windows are open to birdsong and soft air.

I love this time of year, when every day seems to unfold new leaves or flowers, changing overnight. The colors in our woods are the pastels that one associates with spring; depending on the light I see pink and lavender, primrose yellow, the softest greens and blues. The pear trees at the cemetery stand in two lines along the entry road, thickly white-flowered, as the cherry trees at Polly Hill are blooming thickly pink. Magnolias are spectacular. I have begun to see delicate shadbush in our woods and along the roads I drive on my errands. Our lawn is covered with violets and ajuga and myrtle.

I took a class last week at the Polly Hill Arboretum, a class in pruning shrubs and trees taught by Ian Jochems. After the first hour or so of lecture and slides, he handed us each a bypass pruner and a tree saw, and out we went into the landscape. One of the things I wanted to learn about was how to rejuvenate lilacs and rhododendrons that have gotten out of hand, and I got to saw off an old lilac trunk using the three-cut method. Very satisfying. Now to find the time to carry forth around here, the proper time to prune each tree or shrub, and time in general at this time of year when there aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s amazing how quickly things get out of hand.

There will be a celebration of the life of Sylvia Thompson this Saturday, May 12, from 1 to 3 pm, at the Grange Hall. Appropriate to celebrate Sylvia on Mother’s Day weekend, as she was the mother every child dreams of and deserves, and her children and grandchildren clearly adored her. All children adored Sylvia, and she adored them back. Even in her last years at Long Hill, she smiled at everyone and welcomed their presence.

Sylvia lit up the world around her. Her bedroom at Long Hill had a wall painted red, hung with a collection of family photographs and the brilliantly colored still lives she painted throughout her life. She was a dear friend, and I treasure memories of every moment we spent together. I look forward to hearing other people’s’ stories about Sylvia, and to sharing mine, to seeing her family and the friends I have come to know through her. Her children, Mary Rentschler, Peter Rentschler, Phoebe Cole-Smith, and Alexandra Thompson-Cole, will make it a joyful event, just what Sylvia would have wanted.

Cody Jephcote is exhibiting his sculptures and collages at the Chilmark library. I think the opening reception was last weekend, but they will be on display through May when the library is open.

Featherstone Center for the Arts will be the scene this Sunday for opening receptions for the annual Mother’s Day Flower Show and an exhibition of photographs by MVRHS students Davin Tackabury, Tyla Packish, and Daniel Rivard. The openings are from 4 to 6 pm.

The Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group will host its annual fundraising gala, An Evening Under the Stars, on Thursday, May 17, 5:30 to 8:30 pm, at Farm Neck. The evening features a buffet dinner, silent auction, cash bar, and music by Mike Benjamin. All proceeds help support Island cancer patients and their families as they go through treatment. For more information and tickets, please call AnnMarie Donahue, 508-627-7958.

Heidi Schultz sent an advance notice of a Vineyard Sinfonietta concert, “From Bach to Beatles, No. 4,” to be held at the Howes House on June 4 at 1 pm. Mark your calendars.

Town clerk Tara Whiting wants to let everyone know that absentee ballots for our upcoming special election are available at Town Hall. Tara is in her office between 8:30 am and 1:30 pm, Monday through Friday. The election is scheduled for Thursday, June 14, at the Public Safety Building. Polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. There is only one question on the ballot: “Shall the town vote to have its elected Tax Collector become an appointed Treasurer/Collector of the town?” If you are not registered to vote, see Tara or call her at 508-696-0148.

At our library this week:

Friday, May 11, 3:30 pm, Yoga Workshop led by Emily LaPierre for ages 9 to 12. Sign-up is required.

Saturday, May 12, 10 am to 4 pm, the third annual Mini Makers Faire will take place at the Ag Hall. At 4 pm at the library, young adult author Marc Favreau will read from his new book, “Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America.”

Sunday, May 13. Happy Mother’s Day. In your honor, Lynn Christoffers will be in the Children’s Room between 2 and 4 pm to take free portraits of grandmothers, mothers, and families. She will email you a .jpeg of your portrait. At 3 pm, a piano recital featuring students of Lisa Rohn and Brian Hughes in the Program Room.

Monday, May 14, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop.

Tuesday, May 15, 5 pm, a concert by the Pickpocket Bluegrass Band. Doors open at 6:45 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center for a free screening of “My Man Godfrey.” The movie begins at 7:30, but come early for champagne and hors d’oeuvres in honor of Jonathan Revere’s birthday.

These warm spring days are not long enough to get everything done that you think you need to do. I will admit that one of the things I enjoy most is goofing off, especially with my little pal, Iyla Bohan. One afternoon last week we went down to the beach for a walk and a bit of exploring. There is nothing more special than watching a child discover her world. We came home with feathers and rocks and seashells. Iyla drew in the sand with her different feathers, making wide sweeps with the soft part and scratchy lines with the hard shaft. We looked at the colors in the landscape. Iyla learned the word “ochre.” We felt different kinds of mosses growing along the wooded path. “Moss,” she said. Of course, we splashed in the sea foam and listened to the surf. Some of her Cheerios were tossed to seagulls. Listening to her laugh is the most beautiful sound in my world.