As I write tonight, with an early deadline this week, the news has just come across the TV that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has passed away tonight. I am immensely sad at this news, for what it means for our country, for the fire and fighting that it is going to prompt in our country when we are already at odds over so much, for what it might mean for women’s rights and civil rights, and just because she was such an amazing person. RBG was the true embodiment of the Shakespeare quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Smart. Funny. Strong. Powerful. An inspiration for our girls, for sure.
It is fitting that tonight is also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. It seems appropriate that Justice Ginsburg should pass on this night. L’shanah tovah tikatevu and Shabbat Shalom to my Jewish friends and family. I hope this New Year is a turnaround for all of us, bringing us all out these dark days we’ve been in.
Happy birthday wishes go out this week to Heidi McDonough and Mark Corwin on Sept. 23, William Rigali on Sept. 24, and one of our favorite dancers and choreographers, Christin Belinsky, also on Sept. 24.
Tom Dresser’s latest book, “Ghosts of Martha’s Vineyard,” is available next week. Shop at Edgartown Books, at Phillips Hardware in Oak Bluffs for an autographed copy, at Bunch of Grapes. Or you can purchase the book directly, and personally autographed, by checking out thomasdresser.com. This book has lots of island ghost stories, many you may be familiar with, like the old Marine Hospital, the Dukes County House of Corrections, Tisbury School, and the Kelley House. I really look forward to reading it. Ghosts and goblins just in time for Halloween.
Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP) is pleased to present a back-by-popular demand yard and art sale on Saturday, Oct. 3. The sale will be held at 19 State Road, Chilmark, the former Chilmark Chocolates location, and will take place from 10 am to 1 pm. A rain date of the same time frame on Sunday, Oct 4 is planned. Available items will include collectable Chilmark Chocolates T shirts and mugs, including T shirts with the Chocolates logo front and center, which were not available in August. Other items will feature individual art made by VIP members such as cards, studio art, and woven materials. Please note that chocolate will not be available for purchase. Social distancing guidelines will be enforced. Payment will be accepted in cash, card, check (made out to Vineyard Independence Partnership) and Venmo.
Net proceeds from the sale will benefit the ongoing programming of VIP, a nonprofit organization that focuses on creating community and quality of life for individuals with disabilities on Martha’s Vineyard, along with their family and friends. More information about VIP is viewable at vipmv.org.
Felix Neck has shared numbers from the osprey studies for this year. Per their publicity release, “Osprey on the Island continue to increase their numbers and nesting success. Felix Neck is thrilled to report that the numbers from the 23rd annual osprey census show a very productive and record-breaking year. A record high of 106 active nests were observed by researchers and citizen scientists. At these nests, early estimates show that 167 osprey young have hatched, again a record. In addition, there were at least eight housekeeping pairs (adult birds that are seeking and beginning to build a nest, but did not complete the nest and lay eggs). With the adults, unpaired osprey and fledglings, there were more than 395 osprey in the air over the Island! The efforts to count, monitor and record osprey breeding success is a monumental task, considering that there are 255 total (active and inactive) osprey poles and nesting structures on the Vineyard. 32 Citizen Science volunteers from Felix Neck monitored one or more poles in their neighborhoods. Collectively, these volunteers logged more than 2,000 hours on this project for the 2020 season. Program coordinator Liz Dengenis thanked program supporters, and credits the volunteers for their tireless efforts to monitor nests across the Island.
School has officially begun for kids on the Island. High needs students are in buildings while the rest of the kids are learning remotely. It has been a daunting task as teachers and staff get set up for this. I can’t say enough about our own IT guru, Darren Belisle. He has been burning the candle at both ends getting equipment ready for kids to take home. School librarian Nancy Cole and her assistant Tara Sykes have been busy cataloguing and tagging all of the devices in order to assign them to students and keep track of it all. And other staff members have been working together to get it all handed out to the students for a successful start last Thursday, while still preparing their online lessons and classwork. It’s all been quite an undertaking, especially when coupled with wearing masks and gloves and signing in and out and staying six feet away from each other, etc. There is just so much to this new way of life. Anyone who thinks this is “easier” for teachers (or kids) is sadly mistaken. I’d gladly take the old days back in a heartbeat. But we will all meet the challenges head-on together, and create memories and great experiences that we will look back on someday and say, “Remember when …” The most important thing for all of us is the “our kids” are happy and healthy. That is our priority during these times.
I had five or six classes on Friday. It was so good to see all the kids, even if it was via Zoom. I’ve not seen so many of them in so long. We sort of found alternative tech assignments for them last spring so they wouldn’t be on the screens constantly, so I haven’t seen many of them since February. Needless to say, they have all gotten taller, voices have changed, and they’ve matured a lot in that time. I look forward to seeing them in person as they begin to trickle back in over the coming weeks.
That’s it for this week. It’s actually a lot this week. Thank you to those who have shared news and announcements. I wish you all a great week ahead. Stay happy and healthy. Breathe. Be kind. Support each other. We are once again becoming our off-season community. Let’s be there for one another. It can make all the difference during these trying times.
If you have any Edgartown Town Column suggestions, email Gail Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org.