West Tisbury: Midsummer at its best


I guess this is what one expects of summer weather, the hot, humid days and nights that seem never-ending. There was only one day it rained all last week, although what a rain it was, a deluge preceded by lightning and thunder booming. So far, the weather map for the coming week looks like a succession of clear days. No rain in sight.

This weather makes me cross and self-indulgent, only capable of a rather Victorian lassitude. I can almost see myself in a painting by William Merritt Chase or Childe Hassam, dangling my arm lazily over the side of a rowboat, dampening a white handkerchief to cool my flushed face. As it is, I am grateful for air conditioning and ice water.

Nanuk is digging holes in the garden to keep cool. The three cats have staked out their territories in various parts of the house and on the porch, lying as only cats can do, looking like they have been poured bonelessly onto the spot.

Iyla Bohan is happy to be upstairs on our days together. We get a pile of books from the library and retire to the air-conditioned bedroom where I have her crib set up. No sooner do I finish one book than Iyla says, “Another one,” and I obediently begin another and another and another until she is ready for her nap. Big favorites at the moment are “Henry and Mudge,” “Pete the Cat,” “Good Night Good Knight,” and anything by Arnold Lobel. There are such wonderful books for children, and our library has a great selection.

As our summer friends arrive, it’s fun to catch up on all the news. Louise Bessire gave me a press release from the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County announcing the appointment of her son, Paul Bessire, as their new chief advancement officer. He will be responsible for all fundraising activities at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, La Brea Tar Pits in mid-Wilshire, and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall. This seems like a perfect assignment for a man who is equally interested in nature and art. Paul has worked for MOCA, the Brooklyn Museum, the MFA, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the American Museum of Natural History, as well as running his own fundraising consulting practice.

Mary Beth Norton has been busy working on a new book, giving parties, and entertaining houseguests. Her latest guests are Katherine Howe and her husband, Lou Hyman. Katherine Howe is a historical novelist. Her just-published book, “The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs,” and her previous one, “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane,” are both about Salem witchcraft. Lou Hyman is a historian based in New York City at Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations College program. His most recent book is “Temp,” about the rise of temporary work in the U.S. Mary Beth has been introducing them to the Island. So far, they have been to most of the high spots on an Island tour, with lots of time at Lambert’s Cove Beach.

Ellen Weiss has reclaimed her regular summer seat on the bench on Alley’s porch, welcomed by all her fellow bench sitters. She has been busy seeing friends and settling into her usual summer schedule. Hopefully, we will get in some beach walks at Hancock once she and Mary Beth have some free time.

A big banner spans the fence in front of the West Tisbury Church announcing the Blueberry Festival this Saturday, July 20, from noon to 4 pm. Ice cream, smoothies, and other blueberry treats will be served.

Rez Williams’ show of his Monhegan paintings will open Saturday evening, 5 to 7 pm, at A Gallery, where they will remain on view through August 7. The paintings are powerful, the work of several years, after Rez and his wife, Lucy Mitchell’s, serendipitous first trip to Monhegan. I wrote a story about these paintings in the 2018 issue of Arts & Ideas that you can read online or at the library.

Heather Sommers will be opening her show at the Chilmark library with a reception on Saturday afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. Her sculptures and prints, political satire at its best, have been her work of the past two years. The show will be at the library through August 2.

At the West Tisbury library this coming week:

Thursday, July 18, 4:30 pm, Janet Messineo will talk about her new book, “Casting Into the Light: Tales of a Fishing Life.”

Friday, July 19, Mac pro Paul Levy will be available to answer questions from 10 am to noon. At 10:30 am, Elizabeth Langer will lead a collage workshop for kids ages 8 and up. Signup required. Lunch at the library by IGI from noon to 1 pm. From 3 to 4:30 pm, henna tattoos by artist Char. Signup required.

Saturday, July 20, 3 pm, Vineyard Sound concert and ice cream social.

Monday, July 22, 10:30 am, the first day of a weeklong Writing and Reading workshop for kids ages 9 to 15 with Mathea Moreis. Books, paper, pencils, and snacks will be provided. Sign up for one or some days, or the whole Monday through Friday. At 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance class. Free movies and popcorn for family and teen movie night.

Tuesday, July 23, 10:30 am, Healthy Aging MV Advance Care Planning workshop with Holly Bellebuono. Sign up at hbellebuono@communityservices.com. Mac pro will be on hand from 10 am to noon. Lunch at the Library from noon to 1 pm. At 3 pm, Laura Jordan’s Little Bird music class for kids. Architect Bruce MacNelly will speak about “Abstraction and Representation” at 4:30 pm.

Wednesday, July 24, 1:30 pm, the Yard presents Movement Speaks, the signature class of the New York City–based organization Dances for a Variable Population, led by Naomi Goldberg Haas. At 4:30 pm, “The History of the World in 30 Minutes,” a presentation for kids and families.

Thursday, July 26, 4:30 pm, an Outdoor Rock Concert for Kids with the Pinkletinks. Music and dancing on the grass. Please bring a blanket or chair. The program will move inside in case of rain.

The roadsides are orange, with daylilies at the end of many driveways. Their abundant show marks midsummer at its best. I love the morning ritual of deadheading them, walking around the yard with my coffee and a pair of clippers, admiring and neatening into my day.