I have cried almost every day since Donald Trump became president, and can still feel the physicality of shock as I watched the returns on election night and realized he had won. His tenure as president has done nothing to lessen my fears. It has been almost four years of daily assaults against our Constitution and everything I grew up believing that our country stood for. With COVID-19, it has only gotten worse.
Maybe it’s being home more, admittedly with more access to news updates throughout the day. One of the statistics that shouldn’t surprise me or anyone is that the prevalence of depression has surged. I have lived with depression my whole life, “lived with” being a more benign locution than the actual experience. All the things that contribute to depression, either genetic or situational, are what we are facing as this pandemic festers and affects every part of our lives.
It feels like it will go on forever. Numbers of human lives sickened and lost will continue to rise. People will continue to go hungry, and are becoming homeless in ever-increasing numbers. Businesses and jobs may never come back in sufficient numbers to employ everyone who needs a job and a decent paycheck. Schools are struggling to reopen safely. Of course, personal spending is down, exacerbating the financial crisis resulting from the broad spread of this illness and the resulting shutdown. Fear and uncertainty, no money, hopelessness about being able to manage and be safe ever again, despair over everything, it all contributes to depression. (This is called catastrophizing; it isn’t helpful.) Add that the cause is an unseen virus, so virulently transmissible, it is little wonder that so many are suffering.
The contrast between our pandemic life and the reality of my actual days remains so starkly at odds. It has been the thread of my thoughts these past months. We even had a day of soaking rain on Sunday, a whole inch, Mike said, when he checked the rain gauge. By the evening it was cool enough to sleep under a light blanket. Our formerly parched landscape seems to have turned green again. Leaves have relaxed and broadened, their cells water-filled. The garden appears to have grown by inches overnight.
Life goes on.
Maria McFarland wants town residents to know that the personnel board needs three new members. They meet on the second Monday of the month at 5 pm. If you are interested in volunteering, please send a letter to the board of selectmen at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Maria at email@example.com. For more information, call Maria at 508-696-6404.
We will all find out what a Virtual Agricultural Fair looks like beginning this Thursday, today, August 20, as you are reading this column. The Ag Society’s website and Facebook page have schedules and instructions. This year’s fair poster is a knockout. It will surely become a collectible, and a reminder of this odd, never-before time. There are T shirts, bags, and aprons, too, all with the image of animals wearing masks and cavorting around the farmyard.
A Celebration of Chilmark Chocolates will be held this Saturday, August 22, from 10 am to 1 pm, at the former Chilmark Chocolates site on South Road. Sadly, there will be no chocolate for sale, but there will be collectible mugs, T shirts, cards, and original artwork. The sale is sponsored by Vineyard Independence Partnership, VIP, a nonprofit organization whose focus is creating community and quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Cash, checks, and Venmo will be the accepted payments. Masks and social distancing will be required. For more information, go to vipmv.org.
Several friends have already called me after seeing Lucy Mitchell’s installation at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. It was described as a room arranged with various exhibits of the natural materials Lucy has collected over her lifetime and the artistic embellishments she has added to turn them into unified works of art. I have made plans to see it on Friday. I have always loved and admired Lucy’s work. I will tell you all about it in next week’s column.
A reminder about early and/or absentee voting prior to the Massachusetts primary on Sept. 1: Town Clerk Tara Whiting-Wells will be at the Public Safety Building this Saturday and Sunday, August 22 and 23, from 10 am to noon, then Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. The following Tuesday, Sept. 1, is Election Day, and the polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm.
Hard to believe it will be September in another week.
If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, firstname.lastname@example.org.