West Tisbury : Mike’s adventures


“My pruning is more long-term than yours.”

For sheer understatement, the above comment by my husband shocked me. It did make me laugh, though. Long-time readers of my column may remember many examples over the years of Mike’s adventures with a chainsaw or weed-whacker. He lives to decimate anything “in his way,” as he describes it. My description is closer to total destruction.

We were walking together around our yard after I saw the results of his most recent attack on our landscape. The remains of perfectly good shrubs and trees littered the yard. Mike was so pleased with himself, and couldn’t understand why I was so upset.

We have a history. Over the years, he has cut down several Delaware Valley White azaleas that were supposed to edge the border between lawn and woods in our front yard. They should have been sizeable by now, but failed to rejuvenate after three or four years of being cut to the ground. A lovely halesia from Polly Hill, a mock orange, and a hawthorn tree have disappeared. A Viburnum carlesii that Betsey Mayhew gave me as a tiny seedling was cut down after it was finally large enough to bloom and perfume the garden with its fragrant flowers. My dream of a waterfall of wisteria like Cynthia Riggs’ is a distant memory. Other ornamental, or formerly ornamental, plants have bare ends of branches sticking out where they have been hacked off instead of artistically cut back. I swear that Mike would be happier living in a clear-cut wasteland with flat, square corners instead of gently rounded and meandering paths, a yard designed to mow in uninterrupted, straight back-and-forth rows.

This has been an ongoing disagreement in our long marriage. I am artistic, visual, cerebral. He is practical and wants to get the job done. Where I see a pretty swath of color in the daffodils or ajuga that have naturalized in our lawn, Mike sees an impediment to his mowing. We have both learned to give in sometimes, to accept one another. I can’t say we like it particularly, but we pick our battles. I acknowledge that Mike does keep things moving forward while I continue to dream.

I am grateful for this column, so I can write about it and make people laugh as they read it, and maybe recognize their own foibles or long-suffering spouses.

The opening still hasn’t been cut into the Great Pond. It’s still a pretty walk, but no beach. So interesting to observe the seasons, the tidal pools, the growth of vegetation, the shells and birds. I always feel grateful for living in a place and in a way that this is a big part of my life.

Ken Vincent, Cindy Kane, and Bob Avakian are the featured artists at this Sunday’s opening from 5 to 7 pm at the Granary Gallery. Kate Feiffer is currently showing her new work at the Vineyard Playhouse. The gallery is open during box office hours. A Gallery has opened for the season with an exhibition of work by four artists: Chris White, Whitney Cleary, Richard Erickson, and Jennifer Joanou. At the West Tisbury library, there will be a reception for Elizabeth Langer, who will be exhibiting her collages, paintings, and prints in the program room through the month of July.

For a healthy and delicious free lunch with good company in a pleasant location, join your fellow West Tisbury friends for Lunch on the Porch every Tuesday and Friday from noon to 1 pm. Lunches are provided by Island Grown Initiative at different island libraries on different days.

Other library programs this week:

Friday, July 5, 10:30 am, Elliott Bennett, youth educator at the Polly Hill Arboretum, will discuss the unique plants and animals on our island and how to be stewards of their habitats. At 3:30 pm, Nancy Sinsabaugh will give a workshop for high school seniors and their families about how to apply for financial aid and maximize opportunities for receiving aid.

Saturday, July 6, 11 am, the annual Summer Reading Program kickoff at the Ag Hall will be a free concert by the Pinkletinks. The artist’s reception for Elizabeth Langer’s exhibition will be held from 3:30 to 5 pm.

Monday, July 8, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky will lead her Balance Workshop. Family and teen movies will be shown at 6:30 pm.

Tuesday, July 9, 10:30 am, Healthy Aging MV will present an Advance Care Planning workshop discussing end-of-life and serious illness care. Sign up by email at hbellebuono@mvcommunityservices.com. Also at 10:30 am, Jennifer Burkin will lead a book making craft for kids. Signup required. IGI lunch will be served from noon to 1 pm. Nurse Lori Perry will be at the library from noon to 1:30 pm to take blood pressures and answer questions for the free Wellness Clinic. At 3 pm, Laura Jordan will lead a Little Bird Music Class, with songs and movement for kids. At 4:30 pm, law professor Richard Chused will present “From Picasso to Warhol to Koons: Art Appropriation or Just Plain Theft?” about the history of art appropriation and the ethics and legal implications of artistic plagiarism.

Wednesday, July 10, 10:30 am, Elizabeth Langer will lead a collage workshop for adults. Basic materials will be provided, but feel free to bring things you would like to use. Signup is required. At 7 pm, there will be a screening of “A Painter Who Farms,” followed by a Q and A with the star/subject Allen Whiting.

Thursday, July 11, 10:30 am, there will be a story hour for preschoolers with special guest Maggy Bruzelis, who will read from her new children’s book, “Look at This Tree! What Do You See?” GST instructor Lisa Gross will lead a workshop. Bring your own yoga mat. Signup is required. At 4 pm, there will be a Timo Elliott podcast workshop.

The library is starting a book club that will be facilitated by Tracey Braun, and will meet Monday evenings beginning at the end of July. This month’s book, “Flight Behavior,” by Barbara Kinsolver, is available at the library.

By the time you are reading this it will be Independence Day, the Fourth of July. I am planning to read the Declaration of Independence at work. We will bake and decorate flag cookies, too, and sing patriotic songs. It feels particularly important to think about the beginnings of our country and our history as this Independence Day approaches.


  1. In Mike’s defense, maybe it isn’t his fault. Just maybe this is a trait inherent in all males. You know, something in their DNA. In my experience, unless a man has chosen to become a landscaper as a career, the natural instinct seems to be “cut it down!” Case in point, my father was know to “accidentally” mow down my stepmother’s peonies, rose bushes, and that lovely little almond bush I gave her for Mother’s Day. My x-husband would cut things down when I was away, so maybe I wouldn’t notice and he always threaten to take out my favorite, fragrant locust tree. Even the fellow I currently have a relationship with, has literally butchered the trees around his property leaving them looking more like flagpoles than trees. Additionally, he would love for me to let him “trim” the lovely mesquite tree that shades my pond, not fully understanding that it protects the fish from the harsh summer sun and migrating herons. For that reason, I keep a close eye on him which is something we should all do when a man has a sharp tool in his hand. I really think they just can’t help themselves.

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