West Tisbury: A good story to pass along

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— Kyra Steck

Reminiscent of when children had to memorize poems in school, this one came into my head the other day, and has remained settled there.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodils are appearing in dancing waves around town, but what brought the poem to mind was learning that Fat Tony had died in his adopted home, West Virginia. Tony Friedman was well-known when he lived in town. He was a writer, a thinker, a raconteur, political and opinionated for sure. After his move, he often sent me emails commenting on something I wrote in this column.

He was also the owner, chief chef, and bottle washer of his restaurant, the Red Cat, where State Road is now. It was a locals’ place back then, a place where one was assured of a good hamburger or bowl of chili served in a timely manner, sending diners back to work with full stomachs and, often, a good story to pass along.

Tony was a visionary, as well. His vision coincided with the one that Wordsworth observed and wrote about. He planted hundreds of daffodils along Brandy Brow over the years he lived here. I think of him every spring as I pass by and remember Tony, butt up, planting those myriad bulbs. We can all admire the gift he left behind. Thank you, Tony.

Regular readers of this column know how easily I can be distracted from the task at hand. I tend to ramble off in different directions, and so found myself rereading with great pleasure several of Wordsworth’s poems. His lyrical language and meter, his astonishment at seeing something familiar anew, and his ability to transform the experience into a poem describing that emotion still thrills me. I couldn’t repeat entire poems from memory any longer, but was grateful for the verses that came easily to mind.

Peggy Stone of the parks and rec department is looking for summer help. She is accepting applications for a summer supervisor, lifeguards, parking lot attendants, sticker sellers, and swimming and basketball instructors. Application forms are at town hall or on the town website:

parkrec@westtisbury-ma.gov, or call Peggy at 508 696-0147.

The Neighborhood Convention will meet at Grace Church on Tuesday, April 5, at 11 am. The Rev. Stephen Harding will speak “On Chaplaincy.” Attendees are asked to wear masks. There will be no refreshments at any of the meetings till next year.

Masks are now optional at the West Tisbury library, except for special mask hours on Thursdays and Saturdays between 9 and 10 am. More programs are being held in-person, with no sign-up in advance.

Upcoming programs include flower arranging with Helene Barr this Saturday, April 2, at 2 pm. The release of “Covid Monologues MV: Readings to Nourish, Inspire, and Connect” will be celebrated on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm. On Monday, you can have your blood pressure checked between 10 and 11 am, then learn basic massage therapy techniques from 1 to 4 pm. Preregistration is required for the massage therapy program: wt_mail@clamsnet.org, or call 508-693-3366.

The library and West Tisbury school students will provide childcare during our annual town meeting, from 5:45 to 9 pm. If interested, you must sign up by April 1.

It is definitely spring here on the Edgartown–West Tisbury Road. Besides the blooming of our first daffodils, Mike and I have blocked off our cat flaps in our annual attempts at keeping Nelson from bringing live prey inside. I was awakened the other night when he came up the stairs and dropped a live mouse on the bedroom floor in front of Abby. She immediately picked it up in her mouth and, when I yelled at her to drop it, swallowed it instead. I brought her downstairs, trying to get her outside. Of course, she threw up the remains of the poor animal in several places across the living room rug. 

This all happened at about 4 am. Somehow, my husband slept through it all, the cat yowling with pride as he came up the stairs, Abby barking with excitement, me yelling “Drop!” and trying to rescue the mouse. At least no one got skunked when they went outside.