West Tisbury: Memorial Day memories


This is another one of those columns I’m typing one-fingered, supporting the laptop with my other hand to keep it off the orange cat asleep on my lap. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is nothing more comforting than Nelson purring in his sleep, his body a warm curlicue, a paw over his eyes as though I might be disturbing him. Mona has gone upstairs, ceding the sofa to Nelson for now. Nanuk is still asleep, too, on her downstairs dog bed. It’s rainy and gray outside, a good morning for cats and golden retrievers to doze and keep me company. I’m not sure this is accurate, but it seems to me that it’s always rainy and cool for Memorial Day weekend on the Vineyard.

My childhood memories are always of sunshine, of Ridgefield decked out in red, white, and blue crepe paper streamers, the parade up Main Street with marching bands, flag-bearing veterans, shiny red fire trucks and polished police cars, Boy and Girl Scout troops, kids on bicycles, Francis Martin and the current Miss Ridgefield riding in an open convertible waving at the crowd, speeches in front of the Lounsbury mansion at Veterans Park. We lived on Main Street, so friends could park at our house, walk downtown for the parade, then come back for hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs, all set out on tables beneath tall tulip and maple trees that shaded us comfortably through the afternoon.

From all reports, this has been a busy holiday weekend. Lots of people, lots of events, company, cars, parties and picnics, sales of everything in stores newly stocked for the summer season. Finally free of the worry of late frosts, tender vegetables and flowers can be set out in gardens. The garden centers have been mobbed all week. Families have arrived to open their houses and get ready for the summer ahead. The sound of lawnmowers mingles with birdsong. I will admit to hiding out here at home, content to watch the leaves emerge in our silent woods rather than brave the traffic and crowds “out there” on the roads beyond our driveway.

Geoff and Joyce Currier enjoyed a welcome visit from their daughter Polly, her husband Jon, and grandsons Finn and Jasper. The highlight of the trip was fishing, both at Lambert’s Cove and Menemsha. Between them, the boys caught 14 small stripers. Releasing them failed to dampen their excitement, and the family returned home to Chatham, N.J., with spirits buoyed by their time on the beaches.

Louise Bessire has arrived for the summer. Happily, she got here in time to see her magnolia trees in full flower. Her garden, enclosed by pruned hedges, always reminds me of the book “The Secret Garden.” Although partly visible from the road, its beds are filled with perennials and herbs that grow in clumps of increasing size and self-sown surprises, and the hedge gives it an air of mystery.

When I saw Marjory Potts at the library, she was full of excitement over her garden. Hers is surrounded by a fence and filled to bursting with well-tended flowers from spring through late autumn. It’s a lovely spot and she works hard, but happily, to keep it that way. We have to get together for a garden visit soon.

Sandy and Jim Turner are here for the summer. We had breakfast with them a couple of weeks back, right after they arrived. Sandy is a gardener, too, and has planted a woodland garden with lots of interesting groundcovers beneath shrubs and trees, and a wonderful hillside of ferns and shade perennials. Again, plans for garden visits and a walk at Polly Hill’s when we aren’t so busy.

Sue Hruby and Jared Hull entertained the Ogburn family from Atlanta, Ga. The Ogburns had been regular visitors to West Tisbury for many years. Ann Ogburn’s father was Sue’s late husband, Roy Dickerson. I was looking forward to seeing them again after so long. Ann and Adam are great. They were in Boston with their daughter Meredith and her friend Garon, for elder daughter Katherine’s graduation from Boston University with a master’s degree in English literature. Katherine is hoping to get a job and stay in Boston. She and Sue have been able to share lots of visits here and in the city, and it’s nice to think she will stay close. While here, there was plenty of reminiscing, and visits to all the special places they remembered from earlier times.

Kara Taylor has opened her gallery. For now, she is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. Her first reception will be a landscape show on June 24. She is also having an exhibition in November in Cape Town, South Africa, where she has been spending past winters.

Ellen Reynolds is retiring from her longtime post at the Up-Island Council on Aging. Her last day will be June 15. Well-wishers are encouraged to stop in before then. If you miss her, there will be a party in honor of Ellen on July 13 at Howes House.

The Neighborhood Convention monthly meeting will be held at the Chilmark Church on Tuesday, June 5, at 11 am.

Two concerts are scheduled in town this Sunday, June 3. At 1 pm, come to the Howes House to hear “Bach to Beatles” by the Vineyard Sinfonietta. Admission is free, although donations are always welcome. At 3 pm (doors open at 2:30) “For Lo, the Winter Is Past,” a program of contemporary American choral and choir music, will begin at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. The choir and soloists are from the church, led by music director William Peek, and accompanied by pianist Griffin McMahon. Daniel Pinkham’s “Wedding Cantata” will highlight the performance. Admission is $15, free for students, and includes refreshments following the concert.

Lynn Hoeft will be the library’s Artist of the Month for June. A reception opening her exhibition, “The Faithful Eye,” will be held Saturday, June 2, 3:30 to 5 pm. Lynn will be exhibiting paintings of flowers, leaves, and objects from a bird’s-eye view, and colored pencil drawings of narrowed-down landscapes of the natural world.

In other library events this week:

At 7 pm Saturday evening, a reading of “Occupied Territories,” a play by Nancy Bannon and Mollye Maxner, features a cast of actors, veterans, and family members who have grown up amid intergenerational impacts of war. The play premiered in Washington, D.C., in 2015 and had a sold-out Off-Broadway run in 2017.

Monday, June 4, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop. At 7 pm, a discussion of ticks and tick-borne diseases by Dick Johnson and Karen Borella.

Thursday, June 7, 5 pm, Tom Dresser will present his new book, “Whaling on Martha’s Vineyard,” which recounts the history of the industry through memoirs, music, and memorabilia.

Also, the librry parking lot will be closed on June 6 for the tree removal project. The library will be open that day, so please use carpool or use other parking areas. There will be a few spots available at the library parking lot for patrons in need of closer parking.

Marie-Louise Rouff stopped by Saturday afternoon for tea and an art visit. She stepped out of her car with a big bunch of buttercups in her arms. I put them in a pale gray ceramic pitcher, the cool gray a contrast to the hot, bright yellow flowers, and set them on the table in front of our sofa and living room windows. What a pretty sight. So nice to have flowers freshly picked from fields and gardens, of friends or my own.