West Tisbury: Preparing for a new season


I am writing this column early Monday morning, the 15th of June. It’s a gray morning, cool, a respite after a warm week. I hope it rains and relieves me of the job of watering today. I have other things to do.

As I predicted last week, the poppies and iris are almost all gone by, leaving a mostly green garden. The surrounding woods are already a heavier, darker green, closed in, obscuring the sky. I miss my in-laws’ screened porch, where we would often gather on summer evenings for our drinks and to see the sun set over their open meadow.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. passed 2 million on June 10. It took from Jan. 20, the day the first case was diagnosed in Washington State, to April 28 to hit 1 million. Six weeks to double the number of infected individuals, less than half the four months it took to reach that 1 million milestone. Several states are reporting sharp increases of daily case counts, all in the South or Southwest part of the country, worrying me that warmer temperatures will not reduce the spread or virulence of this virus. I remain shocked to see pictures of gatherings where no one is wearing a mask or gloves.

We are preparing for our annual town meeting. It will be held at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs at 4 pm on Tuesday, June 23. Only registered voters and individuals representing a specific warrant article will be allowed inside the Tabernacle. Masks will be required. There will be parking at Sunset Lake, and one entrance into the Campgrounds open for walkers. At the Tabernacle, there will be three check-in entrances. Town reports and copies of the warrant will be available. The warrant has been shortened to the most critical items that need to be dealt with right away to keep the town functioning; other articles will be held for a special town meeting in the fall.

The annual town election will take place at the Public Safety Building on Thursday, June 25. Polls will be open between 11 am and 7 pm. Voters will be asked to enter the building through the ambulance bay. There will be pens provided in each voting booth, and both pens and booths will be cleaned after each use. Voters may bring their own pens. Black is preferred, and red is forbidden, as the machine can’t read red. Please remember to wear your mask.

The Fire Department and Rescue crews have begun holding in-person drills again. Chief Estrella and the assistant chiefs sent out a three-page set of protocols for crew members to keep themselves and others safe and protected at an accident or fire.

I have had several friends ask me for a tomato recipe I make in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. Rather than writing it out over and over again, here it is for anyone who is interested. I’m afraid I “just make it,” so don’t have measurements. You will have to try it out yourselves, but I promise it is foolproof and delicious. It will be fine.

I use a variety of tomatoes, different colors, and sizes. Slice the tomatoes and nestle them in a single layer into a flat baking dish. I use a round, fluted quiche pan, so mine are arranged in concentric circles starting from the rim side. By the time I get to the middle, I usually throw some halved cherry tomatoes over the top.

Mix together and sprinkle over the tomatoes:

Chopped garlic
Fresh thyme
Fresh parsley
Black Kalamata olives cut into halves or quarters

Toss some chunks of goat cheese over the top, then bread crumbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 350° or 400° for about half an hour or longer, until the top is lightly browned and the liquid is mostly evaporated. It should be moist, but not overly juicy.

It is a wonderful side dish, or sometimes I just toss it over some spaghetti. You can also make it with zucchini and/or yellow squash. Alternate a slice of zucchini with a slice of tomato all the way around the baking dish. Then top with the herbs, olives if you have them and like them, goat cheese to make everything extra-delicious, bread crumbs, and olive oil. Homemade bread crumbs are the best, nice chunky ones, but Progresso ones are fine. I have also made this with tomatoes and Morning Glory corn cut off the cob.

My friend Nancy Cramer, former owner of Shaw Cramer Gallery, has been making her own art since she retired from the gallery. Her latest work is mixed-media, and combines drawing, beads, and whatever else might strike her fancy. She has completed six series with intriguing names: “Splash,” “Shimmer,” “Slide,” “Sprawl,” “Square,” and “Snap.” Take a look on her website. It is shawcramer.com.

Tom Dresser has written a new book, “The Rise of Tourism on Martha’s Vineyard.” He will be discussing it at a virtual talk at the West Tisbury library next Wednesday, June 24, at 5 pm. If you want to read about it before the event, his website is thomasdresser.com.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.