Until I was 9 years old, my family lived in a small Cape on East Ridge in Ridgefield, Conn. There were two dogwood trees in the front yard, the older, taller one thicker-branched and white-flowered, a perfect hiding place for a young girl. I remember sitting in that tree for hours, reading and thinking, sure I was completely invisible to the rest of the world.
I thought about that tree this afternoon, Saturday, one of the lovely sunny days of the past week. I wasn’t in a dogwood tree, but sitting beneath one in a blue Adirondack chair in our backyard. It was one that I planted the year Mike and I moved into our house, a tiny whip then, one of several bare-root dogwoods I bought from Norman Lobb when he sold trees and shrubs from his yard on Oak Lane. They are all through our yard in dappled light along the edges of our woods, tall, mature trees now, covered with the chartreuse leaves of springtime and the familiar white blossoms of my childhood.
The weather has been perfect, warm enough for shorts, but pleasant. I have to treasure these days before it gets too hot and humid to feel comfortable being outside.
Shirley Mayhew gave a reading from her new book, “Living Life With the Grace of a Butterfly,” at the library last Sunday afternoon. The program room was comfortably packed with a lifetime of Shirley’s family and friends, as well as new people interested in meeting her and hearing more of her work. We listened to Shirley read three or four of the essays, all of them about her life in West Tisbury from the early days of her marriage to John Mayhew, young motherhood, friendships, oystering, returning to college to become a teacher, her world travels, becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother, her late career as a writer. Each essay is so beautifully and simply written, and Shirley is an excellent reader. How very special to hear a story in the writer’s own voice. Of course I bought a copy to take home, where I have been reading and savoring the rest of the book. I love learning about life in West Tisbury in those earlier days.
Events at the library this coming week:
Don’t forget that the library is closed on Sundays now until mid-October.
Friday, May 24, 4 pm, Judy Kranz’s free Pilates class. Bring your own yoga mat.
Saturday, May 25, 1 to 3:30 pm, second annual Archaeology ID Day. Bring your artifacts for identification and discussion. Experts are archaeologists Dick Burt, Jill Bouck, Duncan Caldwell, Bill Moody, and paleontologist Fred Hotchkiss.
Closed Monday to celebrate Memorial Day.
Tuesday, May 28, 10:30 am, Laura Jordan’s Little Bird music and movement class for children.
At 4:30 pm, Merissa Gerson will talk about ways for communities to work to dismantle rape culture.
Thursday, May 30, 4:30 pm, Nicole Galland will read from her new book, “On the Same Page.” Books will be available for sale and signing.
Vineyard Gardens Saturday morning lecture series will continue with a talk and demonstration of “Planted Containers,” at 11 am. The programs are free, and participants are given a discount on related materials purchased at the event.
Driving to work down Old County Road, I have been intrigued by the sculptures out in front of the West Tisbury School. They remind me of the Easter Island heads I have seen in art history books. Thanks to the talented sculptors. Your work makes me smile every day.
Unfortunately, the other thing that has caught my eye along Old County and many other roads around town is the appearance of tent caterpillar tents in a lot of trees. They seem more numerous, but that may be my own assessment. I hope the birds get busy and eat them before they begin eating our leaves.
Coming back to finish this column on Sunday afternoon, I have just returned from Cronig’s, where I ran into so many friends I haven’t seen in quite awhile. We all commented on it, being too busy already and it’s not even summer yet. I am planning to give myself some more free time this summer to read on my blue Adirondack chair or my newly painted porch, to see friends, to redesign — i.e., simplify — my garden, to paint (both art and house trim). We’ll see how that works out, but for now it sounds pretty good.