West Tisbury: Fireflies lighting up the night sky

—MV Times

I have had a terrible time beginning this week’s column. It’s been such a dispiriting week of news on the Island, nationwide, and worldwide, that I am finding it impossible to begin as I usually do, reporting on lovely summer weather, or something blooming, or seeing a friend I haven’t seen in some time. There will be some upbeat news coming, but if you don’t want to be depressed, stop reading now, and skip the next four paragraphs.

I am sitting here in my house, my home for the past 37 years, the place I love most in the whole world, the place where I feel loved and secure. Reading about so many people, young and old, who are leaving the Island because of the impossibility of finding a place to live that they can afford makes me angry and sad beyond belief. I know I could easily have been one of them — perhaps I still might be. Housing was expensive and difficult to find when I moved here 40 years ago. I will always be scared of being homeless.

COVID cases are increasing again. The hospital and town boards of health are recommending that people wear masks again. I don’t understand why mask mandates are dropped when cases start going down, then they go up, and we seesaw endlessly between masks or no masks. Nobody likes wearing a mask, so get over it. It isn’t just you. I suspect no one likes getting COVID, either, being sick themselves, possibly giving it to others. We are just beginning to learn about the effects of long COVID.

Our Steamship Authority and ferry service, supposed to be our lifeline to the mainland, continues to fail miserably in that regard. I realize that things happen, that boats break down, but it seems so frequent and disruptive. That’s if you can even get a reservation, or afford one. I miss the office at the airport, and the wonderful ladies who were always so helpful and understanding of the needs of Island residents. I don’t feel that the SSA cares about serving the 

Island anymore at all.

I have decided to stop here, with only the issues currently in the headlines of our Island newspapers. The state of our union and of the world are well-known and beyond me. All I can recommend is following facts, and getting out to vote.

On that note, I am happy to report that a young woman in West Tisbury has just been awarded a Commonwealth Heroine designation by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Jenelle Gadowski was nominated by our state representative, Dylan Fernandes. She is an amazing person, filled with energy, passion, and ideas. She has been an activist for civil rights since middle school, and is currently affiliated with the League of Women Voters MV, the NAACP MV LGBTQ Committee, Black Lives Matter, and Young Activists For Social Justice. As I have often written, I am ready to turn things over to this generation, and pray they will fix the mess we boomers have left them. Congratulations and brava, Jenelle. Thank you for stepping up.

If you happen to be at the Up-Island Council on Aging, you will likely meet Jenelle’s grandmother, Jennie Gadowski. Jennie has been active on the Island since before Janelle was ever thought of. She currently runs the desk at the UICOA, and may give you a proud grandmother’s smile if you mention Jenelle and her award.

The UICOA has a special program coming up at the Howes House. Naomi Goldberg-Hass will lead an adult movement class for all abilities on Tuesday, July 12, from 1 to 2 pm. They have a lot of regularly scheduled classes and groups, both virtual and in-person, and you can get at-home COVID test kits there, too. Contact the UICOA at coa-clerk@westtisbury-ma.gov

The Summer Reading Program has begun at the library. Sign up next time you are there, and look at all the programs for exercise, author’s talks, and crafts that meet regularly. Special programs in the coming week include Archaeology ID Day on Saturday, July 9. Island experts Jill Bouck, Richard Burt, Bill Moody, James Richardson, and Fred Hotchkiss will be there from 10:30 to 12:30. Wednesday, July 13, will be the first Weekly Summer Youth Performance Showcase at 5 pm. The program is co-sponsored with WMVY Radio, to give kids an opportunity to get up on stage, or the library porch in this case, to perform in front of a live audience. Sign up to be on the list of performers at lhearn@clamsnet.org

The other big library news is that the Friends of the West Tisbury Library will hold pop-up book sales on summer Sundays from noon to 4 pm in the library parking lot and on the porch, weather permitting. There will be fiction, mysteries, books about Martha’s Vineyard, and children’s books every week, with special tables set up for specific categories. July 10 will feature Cookbooks. Here is the list for the rest of July: Biographies on July 17; Gardening on July 24; Military & Maritime on July 31. Coming in August will be travel, art, and others.

I have been reading a lot of different historians, hoping to gain some perspective this July Fourth on what feels like the worst of times in our divided America. Here is a quote from Jon Meacham: “This Fourth of July, as much as any in our history, certainly since the Civil War, is one where we have to realize that patriotism isn’t passive, it’s an active state. This is a stress test for citizenship.” President Lyndon B. Johnson called the U.S. “the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose; creating a free society of equal citizens.” The Rev. Martin Luther KIng Jr. famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” May it be ever so. 

Meanwhile, I’m looking out the window, and seeing fireflies lighting up the night sky.

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