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West Tisbury: Changes with aging

West Tisbury: Changes with aging
— Kyra Steck

I just finished reading Charles M. Blow’s column, “My Second Phase of Adulthood,” in Monday morning’s New York Times. I wish I had written it myself, as it deals with some of the thoughts I have been ruminating over lately. Aging, “… just a realization that the math says what the math says,” as he states, changing relationships with oneself and others, the loss of parents and friends and elders in our community.

Ralph Sherman died last week. He and Ethel, his late wife, were people I had known since moving to the Vineyard. Not close friends, but part of the fabric of my life. So many people have died lately. I have acknowledged their passings by writing about them in this column, and privately, as well. So many people who were of much the same description, not necessarily close friends, but still part of the fabric of my life. Their losses are no less heartfelt.

Our Island community is aging, as are Mike and I, now in our seventies. Charles Blow is only 50. His community is just starting to fray and it will be years before he becomes one of its elders. “This seemingly sudden intrusion of death into your life changes you,” he writes, and then goes on to talk about forgiveness, acceptance, humanity, his and that of others.

Anyway, I hate the losses, just as I celebrate the new babies born, new marriages begun, the familiar face at Cronig’s or Alley’s or the gas station or the post office, the driver who waves at me as I drive past, the librarian who tells me about the best new book, or the salesperson at the nursery who advises me about the most deer-resistant plant to try in my garden. Not close friends, but part of the fabric of all of our lives.

Having started off in a rather serious tone, I will lighten up with a funny story my cousin Hannah told me yesterday. A letter arrived from the Veterans Administration, the envelope and heading addressed to someone recently deceased. It read, “We have been notified of your death. Please call this number to confirm.”

Tara Whiting-Wells told me that our recent annual town election had the lowest voter turnout of any during her tenure as town clerk. Fewer than 100 voters reelected an uncontested slate of town officials: Dan Waters as town moderator; Skipper Manter as selectman; Tim Barnett remains a constable and a member of the board of health; Mike Colaneri to board of assessors; Tara Whiting-Wells as town clerk; Jeremiah Brown as tree warden; Rob Hauck and Lynn Hoeft as library trustees; Greg Orcutt to a three-year term on the finance committee; Cathy Minkiewicz to a two-year term on the finance committee; Lisa Amols and Skipper Manter to the parks and recreation committee. Thank you all for your service and congratulations on your reelection.

Tara asked that everyone be reminded of our upcoming special and annual town meetings that will be held at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs on Tuesday, May 18. The special town meeting will begin at 4:50 pm, followed by the annual town meeting at 5 pm.

Kate Warner of the Climate Advisory Committee wants to thank everyone who filled out her committee’s emergency response survey. She said the response was tremendous. If you have yet to fill yours out, it is still on the town’s website: bit.ly/3symo4E. You may also register for CodeRED, the town’s emergency communications system that will allow the emergency manager to reach you in a severe weather event or other emergency. The sign-up for that Action Center is westtisbury-ma.gov.

April and Michael Levandowski of LeRoux will be taking over management of Alley’s within the next few weeks. They are planning to bring back much of the general store merchandise and ambiance the store had back when the Alleys, and then the Partons, owned it. I hope they will add the vinegars and olive oil to the almost everything they deal in; it will save me and others a trip down-Island, every up-Islander’s dream.

It has been so dry until Saturday’s all-day rain that the fire department has been concerned about possible brush fires. Please be extra careful. West Tisbury firemen and Karen Lothrup of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation were called for mutual aid to the Edgartown Fire Department for a brush fire at Pohogonot last Wednesday.

Looking out our front door, I noticed that our lilacs are already leafing and budding out. Mid-April seems too early. It’s going to be a good lilac year, though. There are loads of flower buds. The lilac was a gift from Mike’s parents when we built our house, a maybe foot-high whip from the tree beside their house. It’s huge now, and multi-branched, almost blocking the view of the driveway from our front door. I suppose it could use a good pruning, but that’s not one of my skills, and I like it just the way it is.

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