West Tisbury: Icing on a winter cake

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— Kyra Steck

There is a pair of old adirondack chairs in our backyard, just behind the house where I like to drink coffee and read when the weather is pleasant. Adirondack chairs are perfect for both activities. They are deep enough to sit in at a comfortable angle and their wide arms easily accommodate a coffee cup. They were covered in snow early last week, looking rather sculptural, but have since seen sunny blue skies with melting temperatures in the 40s, followed by days of rain. A whole week of weather. The last report I heard predicted a mild day on Monday, dropping into the 20s by Tuesday. I’ll just wait to find out what happens the rest of the week.

Even though it is March and spring is soon to come, I can’t feel too excited. I find myself watching bulbs sending up their first green shoots, thinking about planting peas on St. Patrick’s Day, wanting to get right outside to start raking and uncovering the garden beds. The sun feels warm on my back. In no time it’s turned cold again and I want to run back inside my lair like the groundhog did a month ago. It’s too early for spring. We need more winter and snow.

Most of you reading this will disagree with me. Most people complain all winter about the weather, the cold, the snow, the mess. So I am always pleased to hear someone say they like the winter. Andy Herr was playing a Zoom concert for the Center For Living last week and he happened to comment that he liked snowy days, that snow “is like the icing on a winter cake.” I love the image and pass it along for you to remember when you are complaining through these long winter months.

Everything else I have to write about is sad. I haven’t been much of a friend for several years, tending to isolate and be preoccupied with my own life, so it’s not surprising that I have lost touch with so many people. Shocking to find out that three of them died recently.

First was Roy Gunderson. Mike and I used to see Roy and Dottie fairly often, between the fire department and Cottle’s and each other’s homes. Roy was always busy with projects; Dottie would come up with an idea and Roy would be ripping something apart or adding something onto their house. He easily won the Most Agreeable Husband Award in my estimation. We were building our house back then, so there was lots to show and talk about. And we all just liked each other.

I met Judy and Jock Newbold when they came into my gallery. Judy loved all the things I did. Art, plants, dogs, sand underfoot, and the sound of the sea. She was wonderful company, and summer evening dinners overlooking her garden and across toward Chilmark’s south shore were special times. Truth be told, every time we were together was special. I hadn’t seen Judy in the past three or four years, but I assumed she was well, enjoying life as she always did. No one I love ever leaves my heart; they are just somewhere else in the world doing other things.

This weekend Herb Foster died. Herb always had a twinkle in his eye and a joke to tell. He had a wonderful appreciation for the English language, for the sounds and subtleties of words, for the stories they could be arranged into. His voice, though raspy, was regularly heard chanting prayers and singing during services at the Hebrew Center, where he was a past-president. He was a founding member of the Dukes County Search and Rescue Team and served as a trustee

at the Edgartown library. His yellow Jeep was seen everywhere on the Island, and wherever he went he reached out to everyone and every experience life had to offer.

I am guilty of magical thinking, that the people I know and care about will always be alive and well, living their lives wherever they are, that we will run into one another and feel our affection as strongly as ever. There will always be more time. A sad lesson in this life is that I am mistaken.

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