West Tisbury: Changes in the community

— Kyra Steck

Last week was hot and sunny again, more summer-like weather than what I expect by now. Usually cool, crisp days begin as soon as September does, a welcome gift. By the weekend, it was finally chilly, and we even had a little rain last Thursday afternoon. The sky has been clear with bright stars at night, and I hope it will remain so for the Derby fishermen.

By now, the news that John Early died last Friday has spread across the Island. He was one of those iconic Islanders whom everyone knew and recognized. A carpenter, a fireman, a West Tisbury selectman, a member of more committees than I can count. I laughed at his comment in one of the stories about him that he didn’t know that the word no was a complete sentence. Famous for wearing shorts from April to December, no matter the weather, he was also the first man I remember knowing who wore a pin on his sweater or jacket.

John was famous, too, for being a man of few words. His few words were usually pointed, and often displayed his laconic gift for humor. I remember the eulogy John, then assistant fire chief, gave for retired Chief John Cotterill. His opening sentence was, “If you never had an argument with John Cotterill, it was because you didn’t know him.” I told John later that I hoped he would do the eulogy for me when my time came. I’m terribly sad that he went before me, and I will never know what funny stories he would have told.

I hope it will be a comfort to John’s family and his friends to know that he was universally admired and respected by all who knew him. He shepherded our town and our Island through many years of growth and change with his steady calm and his strong commitment to what he thought was right. Whether you agreed or disagreed with John’s point of view, no one can say he didn’t do his best.

As we have lost one member of our community, we have the impending arrival of a new life to celebrate. I attended a baby shower this past weekend for Juliana Germani, a dear friend and fellow Times columnist. She and her husband, Greg, are expecting a daughter in a few weeks. The guests included a blend of friends, writers, and former students from when Juliana taught at the Regional High School, an interesting mix. The food was interesting, too, a fruit salad and the most delicious baked sweets, typical of a Brazilian breakfast. We all managed to enjoy the food and the company, wearing masks most of the time, and standing at a distance outside in a pretty yard in Oak Bluffs. This baby will be welcomed by so many people, just as babies are meant to be.

In time for Halloween, Tom Dresser’s latest book, “Ghosts of Martha’s Vineyard,” will be published on Sept. 21. It’s his 13th. He will give a Zoom presentation at the West Tisbury library on Oct. 14 at 4:30 pm.

Take a look at the library’s list of Zoom programs. They are so varied, and many subjects will pique your curiosity. We all seem to be adjusting to Zoom, and this virtual life we find ourselves in.

The Polly Hill Arboretum’s online fall plant sale has begun, and will continue through Oct. 12. The arboretum is offering nature-based story times on Zoom, an Arboretum Quest, socially distant tours of the grounds, and has posted videos of spring garden webinars on YouTube. You can email info@pollyhillarboretum.org for more information.

The West Tisbury Community Preservation Committee is accepting proposals for funding FY 2021 projects for community housing, historic resources, or open space/recreation. Application deadline is Sept. 24 at noon. If you are interested in submitting a plan, contact Heidi Dietterich, administrative assistant for the CPC. Leave a voicemail at Town Hall, 508-696-0100, ext. 120, or email cpa@westtisbury-ma.gov. The website is westtisbury-ma.gov/community-preservation-committee.

I loved the interviews in the last two MV Times that asked people to imagine their perfect day. It sparked a conversation at drinks time for Mike and me to fantasize about what our perfect day would be. I recommend it.

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