West Tisbury: Skipper Manter is retiring

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— Kyra Steck

I have heard the news that Skipper Manter is retiring from the police department, but I still can’t believe it. Skipper has been a policeman since way before I moved to town. George Manter, his father, was chief back then, following his father, Dan’l. The police station was in the building next to the Mill Pond. Things may have been a bit less formal, but the Manters knew their town, and in their quiet way, they always got the job done. Stories are numerous and legendary. I’ll leave it at that.

After 47 years, Skipper will retire officially on July 31. What are you going to do next? I will always wish you well.

After a chilly week, the weekend couldn’t have been better. Linda Hearn and I met for our daffodil walk at the arboretum on Friday afternoon. We wore coats, prudently, as the wind was still cold. The 21,000 daffodils that had been planted in 2018 have spread into broad swaths and long borders that were absolutely spectacular. We didn’t count them. I came home with the folder depicting and naming the different varieties, and spent the rest of the afternoon reading about each one, inspired to add to the varieties on our property. Many are the old-fashioned narcissus and jonquillas with tall stems and several small, fragrant flowers atop each one.

Before we even began our tour, we ran into George and Andrea Hartman, who were just leaving. George opened the seat of his antique British golfing cane, with a learned demonstration and discourse, and settled in for a lengthy chat. It’s been so long that any of us have had opportunities to visit since the beginning of the pandemic that we all wanted to make it last as long as we could. George is getting ready to attend his first antique engine show sometime soon, his first since 2020. It used to be a regular event for him and other engine enthusiasts who regularly traveled from the Island. I remember meeting some of those friends at the Vineyard show at the Ag Hall.

Andrea has been attending a tai chi class at the arboretum, so spending a lot of time there. The class meets outdoors on Tuesday mornings at 9. Kanta Lipsky leads the group. Of course, Andrea was wearing one of the fabulous sweaters she knits, this one a complicated Fair Isle pattern in gorgeous colors. It was a treat to see both of them, and to catch up on family and cat news.

As Linda and I proceeded on our walk, we both commented on what a treasure the arboretum is. We have had the pleasure of seeing small, newly planted trees and shrubs grow into large specimens. I always see and learn something new, and am so grateful for that beautiful place.

On my way there, and as I was driving home, I took the long way to look at some of my favorite views and daffodil displays. The Dripps’ hillside on Middle Road, the Larsens’ garden at Beetlebung Corner, Tom Thatcher’s yard on South Road. (I still call it that, as I don’t know who lives there now.) Every yard along the roadsides has at least a few daffodils; some have extravagant displays that have been divided and spread over many years, while some are new, a dozen or so bulbs just in the ground. I miss seeing friends’ properties that are invisible from the road, places that have been loved and tended, where the daffodils grow wild on their own once the owners have died.

If you are driving down the Edgartown Road, make sure to look at the wide double rows of daffodils that Cynthia Riggs has along her driveway. She has planted more right out on the road, likely to increase every year. Gardening is a long game.

Across the road, I have been awaiting the blooming of Harriet Bernstein’s cherry trees. Maybe that will be a story for next week.

There are swans in the Mill Pond. Are there cygnets yet? I haven’t seen them. The tangle of shrubbery there is bright spring green, making intertwined shapes and softening branches, much as at Parsonage Pond across State Road. The Noons’ pink magnolias are growing tall in their new garden in the center of town. I still have to go up Tiasquam Road to see the ribbon of daffodils Ann Burt has nurtured where her lawn overlooks Tiasquam Brook. She and Tom Hodgson have increased plantings all along the road to Tom and Christine’s house at the top.

I hope you will indulge me in my endless recital of daffodil sightings in West Tisbury. They are such a welcome sight after a long, gray winter.