West Tisbury: The height of hurricane season


What a gorgeous holiday weekend we are having. While Hurricane Dorian is wreaking havoc on the Bahamas and heading toward the Southern U.S., we are blessed with benevolent sunshine and comfortable temperatures. It looks like we may feel some effects by next weekend, onshore tides, but so far it looks as though the storm will head out to sea. So much damage, slow-moving, and heavy rainfall. I suppose we would all be wise to make sure we have batteries, candles, bottled water, and some extra food in the house in case a storm to come threatens the Island. It is the height of hurricane season, after all.

My heart goes out to Kathy and Wayne Tackabury, whose young son, Davin, died over the weekend. He was a beautiful child, and grew to be an accomplished photographer and artist, full of creativity and promise.

One of the annual pilgrimages my brother Andy and I always made when I visited him in Redding, Conn., in the spring was to drive up Cross Highway to visit Mr. McQuaid and his field of daffodils. It rose on a slope from his house and, according to his obituary, held 51,000 bulbs that he dug, divided, and replanted in the spring after they bloomed. Andy sent me a link to the obit. I had never known his name before, other than Mr. McQuaid; it was Henry, and people called him “Bud.” He was 103 when he died.

Over the years, I have accumulated memories of places that are right out in the open and available to be enjoyed by anyone who passes by. Mr. McQuaid allowed everyone to drive into his driveway and take a walk up that magical hillside. He was often outside and greeted us, ready for a conversation. There was a large, fragrant magnolia tree by the side of the house marking the path. That combination of colors — cream, plum, green, and yellow — cheers me still.

Chapel Street in New Haven is similarly in my mind for the thick plantings of daffodils that bloomed every spring in the wide, ivy-filled beds of Yale University’s buildings. They were planted, I think, by some endowment from an alumnus of one of the colleges, and brightened the walks of all, a great impact for a relatively small expense.

There are several plantings on the Island that have attracted me since my early days here. Tom Thatcher’s daffodils planted under trees along South Road was one, and the Dripps’ hillside behind their house on Middle Road. Kathy and Sam Stevenson’s daffodils cover their entire yard. As one enters and drives along Tiasquam Road, one is treated to a thick ribbon of various daffodils that bloom from early April right into May. If you look off to the left, a similar thicket winds along the stream behind Ann Burt’s house. I think Tony Friedman must have envisioned such a display when he began planting daffodil bulbs at Brandy Brow back in the 1980s. I suppose that is the arboretum’s goal, too, as they solicited donations of money and volunteer labor to begin planting the yellow and orange daffodils along State Road and through the woods as one enters the property.

In a similar act of beneficence, Lila Acheson Wallace left an endowment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for the opulent urns of flowers that fill niches in the museum’s entry hall. The first time I remember seeing her gift was when visiting the museum when I was at Pratt. I would walk to Park Avenue, too, where thousands of tulips were planted every fall to bloom in the spring, a different color every year.

I think about all these people, and how they have inspired me and brightened the world with a few thoughtful gestures. Thank you to every one of you for your generosity and foresight.

What does this have to do with anything? Just reflections on visual gifts in the public realm, something that makes our world a little pleasanter. No agenda. No financial gain. It’s just nice.

Having referred to the Polly Hill Arboretum, they are holding their final plant sale of the season this coming Saturday, Sept. 7, from 9:30 am to 3 pm. While you are there, there will be a lecture on biodiversity plantings in our yards. Andy Brand will speak at 1 pm.

Jennifer Tseng, formerly at the circulation desk of the West Tisbury library, has an essay in the current edition of the Paris Review. It is “Portrait of Our White Mother Sitting at a Chinese Men’s Table.”

Featherstone Center for the Arts is planning an exhibition called “Summer’s End” that will open on Sept. 22. Any artists interested in participating should deliver their work on Sept. 17 between 10 am and 4 pm.

Changes in times of services are announced for the Federated Church in Edgartown and the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center. The Federated Church resumes its winter schedule this Sunday, Sept. 8. There will be one Sunday service at 10:30 am. The Hebrew Center winter schedule begins Friday, Sept. 6, when the Shabbat evening service will begin at 5:30 pm. The Saturday morning Torah service will begin at 10 am. The Sunday morning service at the West Tisbury First Congregational Church remains at 10 am.

At the West Tisbury library:
Friday, Sept. 6, 5:15 pm, the Feminist Book Club will hold its first postsummer meeting. Come and help pick out books for future meetings.

Saturday, Sept. 7, 3:30 to 5 pm, an artist’s reception will be held for photographer Kim McCarthy’s exhibition, “Martha’s Vineyard Today.” The show will remain on view in the Community Room through September.

Monday, Sept. 9, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop will meet in the Community Room. At 7 pm, Writers Read will meet for reading and critiques of your original fiction or nonfiction. Readers are assigned eight-minute segments of time. Call 508 693-4307 to sign up for a spot, or just come. You can read if you like, or just listen.

Tuesday, Sept. 10, noon to 1:30 pm, the monthly Wellness Clinic will meet. At 4:30 pm, Judith Baumrin will read from her new memoir, “A Practice.”

Happiest 4th birthday wishes to Simona Belcheva. Simona is the daughter of our beloved Bianca at our up-Island Cronig’s. Bianca told me about her plans to take Simona and some friends and relatives to eat and play at Billy Beez in the Kingston Mall. It sounds like quite a place, and I hope it will be a special day for Simona.

It’s time to go outside and start taking advantage of the nice weather. Later in the day, I plan to make pickle relish for my brothers for Christmas. The cucumbers and onions have been salted overnight. They will be drained, the other ingredients added, and the whole thing will cook for several hours before going into jars. Last night as I was chopping everything up in my Cuisinart, I wondered how our mom used to make this and other preserves late into the night after working all day. She had to chop everything by hand, too. No Cuisinart in those days. But she did it, and it was always perfect. It is still the just-right addition to tuna fish salad.