West Tisbury: Such an odd spring


When I look out the window, it is a beautiful spring day, but said window is closed against the still chilly temperatures. It’s such an odd spring. Everything seems late, then the weather turns warm and those long-awaited blossoms go by so quickly. Then it turns cool again. Thankfully there hasn’t been a late frost. Usually I am running around late afternoons covering bleeding hearts and watching our magnolia turn brown. Much to be grateful for, I guess.

Ben Moore died last Thursday. He was such a fixture around town. Even through much of his illness, he and Paddy attended every town and church event. It was always nice to see Ben out. He remained the gracious gentleman he always was, kind, softspoken, a part of West Tisbury in so many ways. Buildings he designed will testify to his creativity, generosity, and care for the community he inhabited, but Ben’s gift to me will always be his smile and beautiful manners, and his love of black Labs. My condolences and great admiration, dear Paddy, to you and your family.

I just learned that Gay Nelson died at Long Hill on Sunday. Gay’s family had all been with her these past days, taking turns at her bedside, being with Art and each other. Since I had been working at Long Hill, I had been able to spend time with Gay these past few years. She still enjoyed a good children’s book, and I could get her laughing with Jack Prelutsky’s poetry. Her feet tapped along with Rick O’Gorman’s Thursday concerts. Art had wonderful photographs of the family, and especially their twin grandchildren, that would play on a television in her bedroom in the evenings. She still loved music, old movies, Christmas lights, flowers, and most of all she loved Art. I have to give him credit for being the most devoted husband ever. Gay’s face always lit up the minute she saw Art come into the room. Daffodils we planted together, abundant Christmas greens at the library parties, and knowing the perfect book for every child in town are how I will remember Gay from our library days. I am so sad for the whole Moore/Nelson family, losing both Ben and Gay within a few days.

Barbara Day died in Florida, not long after the passing of her husband Bob. My sympathy to their family, especially for losing them so close together. In life, though, they were always together, familiar sights at the library and at every meeting and event in town for so many years, devoted to each other and to the town. There will be a memorial service for them in July.

There will be two graveside services this Saturday, May 19, both at 11 am. The Rev. Cathlin Baker will lead the service for Kevin Hearn at Lambert’s Cove Cemetery. He will be buried with military honors by members of the Martha’s Vineyard Veterans’ Association. The Rev. Bill Eddy will officiate at the service for Jane Farrow at Abel’s Hill Cemetery, almost within view of the home she and Ted shared, just up the hill. There will be a gathering to follow at the Beach Plum Inn.

Ginny Jones has been sharing information about a recent two-day Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness joint strategic planning effort by West Tisbury and Chilmark, funded by a grant and organized by Jen Rand, Tim Carroll, John Christensen, and Marina Lent. After completing the workshop, our towns become eligible for funding to implement the projects they have identified to build resilience against hazard vulnerability as a result of climate change, severe storms, and the rise of sea level. For now, they are working among themselves on what we can do on our own for our towns and for our own households, considering the difference between a Category 4 or 5 hurricane during the summer when there may be more than 100,000 people here, and a bad nor’easter during the winter, when we are “just us,” and mostly more self-sufficient and prepared.

The ferry system topped the list for needing serious planning and revision. The need to design and construct ferries designed for conditions along the Island routes, not as prone to windage as the current boats, that are reasonably simple to operate, to come up with one design that can be replicated for maximum efficiency and reliability, new thinking on capital improvements. Remember that we pay for all this, and are dependent on the ferry system; its purview is to serve Island residents first.

Other concerns discussed included ticks and tick-borne diseases, new testing that allows an almost instant diagnosis; an accessible common source for potable water if there is no power; care for elders and others with medical needs like dialysis, oxygen, insulin, and general access to medical care; forest fire prevention involving clearing roads of dead/fallen timber; communication; the electrical grid; road and bridge/culvert infrastructure; coastal erosion, protection of the great ponds, marshes, shell and fin fish resources, and other natural resources; the need to feed ourselves by maximizing our agricultural capabilities of both crops and meat/poultry.

Of course, there are a lot of common-sense basics we should do for our own households and neighbors who may need help. Keep kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights ready. Fill the bathtub and/or a clean garbage can with water for flushing toilets, washing, etc., plus plenty of jugs and containers for drinking water. Ginny keeps jugs of water in the freezer, which keeps the freezer cold longer, and which can be used for drinking water. Have nonperishable food on hand, and a supply of your medications. Fuel up cars and park out of the way of potential flood waters or falling trees. Close windows and doors on windward side of storm and make sure they won’t blow open. In the winter, have a supply of firewood or whatever you use for solid fuel to keep at least part of your house heated, a good reason to have a working wood stove or fireplace. Have shovels ready. If you are adept at using a chainsaw, make sure it’s sharpened and you have fuel for it. Ask for help if you need it.

We are lucky here to have emergency personnel who drill all year to be prepared for these situations. All the fire departments, police, EMTs, rescue teams, hospital emergency staff stage drills separately and together to coordinate their responses. They not only practice, they show up whenever these emergencies happen year-round. Thanks to all of you.

Thanks, also, to John Christensen, who has just retired as emergency manager, and to Russ Hartenstine, who has taken over the job.

And thanks to this committee, which is working to improve our systems and preparedness for whatever comes our way.

The West Tisbury library is participating in a regionwide voter registration drive, to be held on Saturday, June 16, from 10 am to 4 pm. If you are interested in volunteering for a two-hour shift, please contact Susanna Sturgis at 508-696-6877 or sis@susannajsturgis.com. This is a nonpartisan effort that will follow guidelines set out by the secretary of state’s office.

This week at the library:

Don’t forget the library is closed Sundays till mid-October.

Saturday, May 19, noon to 2 pm, the Martha’s Vineyard Community Seed Library’s annual seedling swap. Bring your heirloom vegetable, flower, or fruit seedlings or cuttings to share. At 2 pm, Leah Littlefield and poet laureate Spencer Thurlow will lead a poetry workshop for teens. At 4 pm, students, teachers, and the community are invited to hear Nancy Hoffman and Robert B. Schwartz present their new book, “Learning for Careers; The Pathways to Prosperity Network.”

Monday, May 21, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop. At 7 pm, MVY’s Dave Kish’s jazz documentary and discussion program.

Tuesday, May 22, the library will be closed till 1 pm for staff training.

Thursday, May 24, 5 pm, a recital of 19th century European art songs of love and loss sung by baritone David Behnke, accompanied by David Rhoderick.

Friday, May 25, tweens and teens ages 10 to 17 are invited to a meeting of Dumbledore’s Army.

The big news in our family is Hannah Beecher’s new puppy, a West Highland white terrier named Henrytwo. He arrived for a visit yesterday, his first full day on the Island. Nanuk was totally charmed and ready to play. Henrytwo was interested and willing, but awfully tiny compared with a bouncing 80-pound golden retriever. They managed just fine, and when he had had enough, Henrytwo retreated to Hannah’s or my waiting arms. I wish him a long and happy life in his new home.