West Tisbury: A tired puppy is a good puppy

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— Kyra Steck

We New Englanders never seem to tire of talking about the weather, so here begins another West Tisbury column. It’s been a week of variable days. I was out planting some last bulbs one afternoon, then huddled inside wearing two sweaters on another. One day I awoke to rain and blustery wind, but by mid-morning it was almost 50°, and the sun warmed the house up nicely. The snow shovel is staying on the porch for now, awaiting the arrival of a predicted blizzard that has, so far, not arrived.

Geraniums, impatiens, oxalis, and nicotiana are blooming in the greenhouse, along with my mother’s Christmas cactuses. Many years’ worth of amaryllis are in various states, and it looks like this will be a good year for continuous blooms. I always plan to get rid of some of them, but they show such promise at the end of summer, so I bring them inside to watch them bud up for another winter. 

This year I found two of the spectacular ‘Nymph’ series at Middletown Nursery, and treated myself to ‘Cherry Nymph’ and ‘White Nymph.’ If you don’t know this variety, look it up. I love the sturdy, shorter stems and the flowers that are very showy, at least doubles. They seem to have at least a hundred petals. All are beautiful colors.

My nasturtium seeds never sprouted. Maybe I will try another planting, and be more attentive to their care. It’s nice to have something blooming inside for little bouquets through the winter.

It’s almost time to start plants for the summer. My niece, Charlotte, sent me a number of seed packages for part of my Christmas this year. Among them are artichoke seeds. Charlotte and her partner, Brian, are avid gardeners, and moving from a real, in-the-ground garden to a small patio seems not to have daunted them in the least. They harvest armloads of gorgeous artichokes. I had started seeds one year that never took off once they were in the ground, so Charlotte decided it was time to try again. I should probably go out and get some good, aged manure to grow them in, or plant them in my compost pile. I don’t want to disappoint Charlotte when she comes to visit. Wouldn’t it be something to serve her an artichoke I grew myself?

It has been a gift to have discovered Zoom during these past two years. I have been able to take classes in all sorts of subjects and places, all from the comfort of my own living room. Best are ones I can share with Charlotte. We have been enjoying Bow Van Riper’s monthly program from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum called “Hidden Collections.” Bow is a storyteller, the best kind of historian, who makes this hour go by in a moment. There are often interesting bits of ephemera that might seem unimportant, yet they provide the color of a time and place, a moment in history.

Bow’s January program was about some of the small collections that have been donated to the museum, like shopping lists, one sent by a storekeeper needing provisions from Boston in the 1880s, others from the early and mid-20th century. There were photographs using a particular type of camera or film that was only produced for a short time, of people or places that no longer exist. Letters, often handwritten in faded Palmer script, a skill probably little known today, certainly little used. I wonder what we emailers are leaving behind?

If I have piqued your interest, I hope you will take a look at the museum’s website. Or go to the museum itself. Or look at other places that might interest you, to see if there are classes, or lectures or concerts or visual displays. Many are free. Then ask someone far away if they would sign up, too. Although I suppose in these days of COVID, far away can be just down the street or across town. It’s a germfree way to spend an interesting hour with a family member or friend.

I have to share my excitement that two people commented on last week’s column. I had wondered if anyone had taken out papers for any positions on our town boards. Jim Klingensmith responded that he is running for the one-year seat on our select board. The other was from a woman who read about me packing up my ornaments in Harry & David fruit boxes; she does the same thing. Thank you both.

Yesterday Abby met a young dog on the beach. They were instant friends, and played so hard and ran back and forth so many times that Abby was quite worn out by the time we got home. Hope Hazel was, too. A tired puppy is a good puppy.