West Tisbury: Kent will be missed

— Kyra Steck

The sky has been so dark and clear at night since the nor’easter last week. Stars appear more numerous, the moon a mere sickle-shaped sliver. The thermometer read 38 degrees this morning when I took Abby out at 6 am.

I meant to start out this week’s column with the nor’easter. It was the big story in town until we learned that Kent Healy died on Sunday. Kent, like his wife Maureen, who died this past spring, was so much a part of West Tisbury’s fabric that I can’t imagine us without his daily presence. 

Kent was one of the people who quietly carried on the responsibilities and traditions of our community life. He was a selectman, and also gave his time and expertise in many other volunteer roles. I loved seeing him mucking around in the Mill Pond, checking the dam. I loved seeing him on the road in his blue truck, both of us waggling our fingers at each other in greeting. I loved his engineer’s mind, and his ability to analyze a situation and deal with it in a straightforward manner without much discussion. I loved that he listened before he spoke, thought for himself, carried his moral compass as true north, got right to the point, spoke with certainty, and had a sense of humor that made his eyes smile. I loved that he did what interested him. I loved that he loved his wife, his children and grandchildren, his friends, his town, and his island life. Kent will be missed in ways we haven’t yet begun to notice.

My condolences to his children and grandchildren.

Now to the storm. The nor’easter hit us during the night and early Wednesday morning we awoke to a dark house with soughing winds through the trees outside our windows. We had prepared, of course; Mike and I are both good preparers. Flashlights worked. There were extra batteries, just in case. There was water for coffee, matches to light our gas stove, and a working automotive jump starter Mike had connected to run the filter motor in Edgardo’s fish tank. What light there was came in through the bank of windows in our living room.

There had been two smoke alarms during the night, and we were lucky that Mike had gone out. When he came back after the first call, he heard a suspicious cracking sound overhead, and decided to move my car and his new truck to somewhere more open, with no trees overhead. It was a brilliant move. By the time he returned from the second call, two huge branches had fallen where the roof of my car once was and into the trailer he parked nearby. Nothing was damaged. There were still branches broken and hanging, and the tree ultimately had to come down over the weekend. That was quite a sight.

We had another big branch fall, barely missing my prized young copper beech tree at the far west end of our yard. That will need to be dealt with, too, but for now it’s all about cleaning up. Sticks, twigs, small branches, and leaves are everywhere. The woods turned color overnight; once green, they are now a warm golden color, glowing when the sun hits them. That and sweaters signal it really is fall.

Power here was back on around 10 am, but there were parts of town that didn’t have power for most of the day. There may still be some homes without power. Congratulations to Caroline Drogin, who has become Chilmark’s new children’s librarian. Many of us remember Caroline behind the check-out desk at our West Tisbury library the summer before she left for library school.

Cape Light Compact will pay $30 for each old dehumidifier homeowners bring in to their turn-in event this Saturday, Nov. 6. Come to the Grange Hall between 10 am and 2 pm. CLC hopes this will encourage homeowners to replace older, inefficient models.

Dancing shoes, swirly skirts, and bolo ties are the expected dress code for the Barn Raisers Ball this Saturday night. Come to the Ag Hall at 7:30 pm. Expect to see your friends and have a good time.

Watching the wind in the trees is as mesmerizing as watching flames in a fireplace. My pile of as-yet-unread books, newspapers, and old New Yorkers sat at the ready beside my sofa — my planned activity during the nor’easter and the rainstorm we had at the end of the week. They sit there still untouched. Instead, I watched the wind.