West Tisbury: Island Made Holidays, orchids and amaryllis, and Nelson the cat

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— Kyra Steck

Typical New England weather gave us another week of never knowing if it would be warm or cold when we opened the door in the morning. There was a spectacular red moon on Tuesday, lots of wind and rain and sun. There are still leaves on the trees, enough to sparkle with sunlight behind them, brightening their colors, making visible contrasts against the changing skies. Walking around our yard, I have found the odd periwinkle blue myrtle flower, and white flowers on a rhododendron that has flowered in spring and fall ever since it was planted.

We saw huge waves washing over the barrier beach where the opening into the Great Pond had recently been cut. I don’t think fishermen need worry about adequate salinization levels, only that the opening might close in quickly. It has seemed to be the pattern, though, or is it my imagination that it’s cut and fills again within a couple of weeks?

Our 2022 mid-term election day went well. Voting was steady throughout the day at the public safety building. Impressively, 1,764 West Tisbury citizens voted — 63 percent of our 2,795 registered voters; 647 voted early, either in person or by mail; 1,117 voters came through on election day. We had newly-registered first time voters, young and middle-aged and senior voters, all exercising their right to vote in free and fair elections. Congratulations to town clerk Tara Whiting-Wells for a job well done, as always.

Tara asked me to note in the column, “a huge thanks from me to all that help make the West Tisbury elections run smoothly. From the highway department [members] who do the set-up, the two chiefs (Pachico and Retmeier) for graciously allowing the polls to take over the meeting space at the public safety building, to all the volunteers and staff who showed up for early voting and election day duties.”

Speaking of civil servants, I note the death of Jeff Norton. He was Edgartown’s town meeting moderator for as long as I can remember, someone whose presence around town was remarkable in that it wasn’t remarkable; he was just always there. He was the kind of gentleman who would tip his hat if gentlemen still wore hats. I rue the loss of the old-fashioned decorum I grew up with. Jeff was one of that generation and I admired him for it. My condolences to Jane and their family, and to the town he devotedly served.

I was at the library Saturday afternoon to attend the reception for the quilt show on display through November. If you have marveled at the fair entries hanging overhead, I urge everyone to stop in to see these quilts up close. They are amazing, colorful, beautifully crafted, and endlessly imaginative. There are two quilts hanging to the left inside the door of the program room, two of 12 quilts that were a creative challenge to the quilters. Everyone had to make 12 squares of their own design to be shared with the group. Everyone would use these exact same 12 squares to make their quilt. Every quilt would be different. It was fun to see that changes of placement, background colors, and stitching could produce such unique results. I would have loved seeing the other 10, but certainly had a good sense of how varied they all must have been.

The quilts presented run the gamut from figurative blocks depicting African women to traditional patterns of pieced fabrics. They are all amazing. Don’t miss the two hanging in the stairwell. They are part of the show and deserving of your attention.

The work of Island craftspeople will be available as Island Made Holidays at Heather Gardens opens this Friday, Nov. 18. It will be open from 10 am to 5 pm every day through Christmas Eve. A wide range of possible decorations and gifts awaits: holiday plants, wreaths, felted Santas and Santas made out of gourds, calendars, photographs, books, wooden bowls and cutting boards, pottery, lavender sachets, knitted and crocheted hats and scarves, woven placemats, napkins, tea towels, scented candles, jewelry made with beads or quahog shells or seaglass, charms, honey, jams and jellies, sea salt, and cookies. Hope I didn’t leave anything out.

If you are ready to start Christmas shopping, Middletown Gardens has displays of orchids and amaryllis, ornaments, table linens, garden books, toys for kids, narcissus bulbs to start yourself. They also have fresh flowers. I have already told Mike he doesn’t have to drive to Vineyard Haven to buy me flowers; they are right in town.

Vineyard Gardens won’t stay open for Christmas. They will be closing right before Thanksgiving this year. But you can still find lots of bulbs, perennials, trees, shrubs, tools, and planting supplies, much of it on sale.

I have to tell what a challenge it was to write this column. My cat, Nelson, who has been so sick with Lyme and Anaplasmosis the past two weeks, is clearly feeling better. He has returned to his normal affectionate self, curled up on my lap, so that I am holding him with one arm while trying to type one-fingered on a laptop by my side. I keep hitting something that erases parts of paragraphs. It’s not been easy, but I couldn’t be happier. Nelson even bit me this morning. Such a good cat.