West Tisbury: Spring season, Shirley Mayhew, poetry programs, and Alvida Jones

—MV Times

When Ginny Jones and I spoke the other day, she asked me to be sure to mention what a beautiful spring this has been, that bulbs and flowering trees have been exceptional. There are still daffodils around, and tulips, violets, lily of the valley, wood hyacinths, ajuga. There is a beautiful redbud tree along State Road in front of the old Humphreys house. Quince, viburnums, azaleas, fruit trees, exceptional all.

Later, Harriet Bernstein invited me over to look at her cherry trees. They form a thick border across the front of her property, planted in 1976 by John Gadowski for the owner at the time, Bruce Hayden. Many of us had partied beneath those trees, or had painted them in their luscious, roseate glory. Harriet said they are blooming two weeks early this year.

Everything seems much earlier this spring. Lilacs have been out for over a week already. For so many years, a friend gave me a bunch of lilacs when I opened my gallery on Memorial Day weekend. They seemed to bloom by mid-May in more recent years, then be long past by the end of May. Early May was unimaginable.

Last week I was complaining about the weather feeling chilly. Not this week. It’s been lovely outside. I have had our windows and doors open. I love fresh air through the house. I even asked Mike this morning about putting up our screen door, maybe this weekend.

One caveat about enjoying being outside. Be careful. The ticks are terrible. Abby and Nelson have been loaded with ticks, and I find them on myself after being out in the yard. Preventive treatments are working well on both animals so far; we don’t put it on Mona because she is so old, and barely goes off the porch anymore.

Congratulations to my colleagues at The Martha’s Vineyard Times. The paper won 14 awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association, including first place for “The Minute” online newsletter, and “Voices on the Housing Crisis,” a special section. West Tisbury resident and former Times writer Rich Salzberg was named Reporter of the Year. He is now the development of regional impact coordinator at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

A reminder that the Mayhew family is hosting a celebration of life in memory of Shirley Mayhew. We are all invited to bring an hors d’oeuvre to share at the Ag Hall this Friday evening, May 12, from 4 to 7 pm. There will be wine and music, and stories of happy, funny, or quirky times with Shirley. She was a huge part of so many lives.

There will be two poetry programs at the library next week. The biannual community poetry reading will be an in-person event on Tuesday, May 16, at 2 pm. It’s hosted by poet laureate Tain Leonard-Peck, and poets and poetry lovers are invited to read their own poems or poems written by others. Listeners are welcome, too. There is no signup for the event. On Wednesday at 4:30 pm, the poet laureate will lead an online workshop, “The Craft of Poetry.” Participants are asked to submit their poems in advance to tainleonardpeck@gmail.com. For the Zoom invitation, email wt_mail@clamsnet.org.

I just learned the sad news that our neighbor, Alvida Jones, died in her sleep as I was writing this column Monday night. She is one more person who has always been a part of my West Tisbury life, always there, as was her husband, Ralph. The Riggses, Alvida, Cynthia, and Ann’s parents, were dear friends of Mike’s grandparents, and I met them early on when I moved to town. They were active in the church, town affairs, the arts, and the Edgartown Road–Dan’l’s Way neighborhood. The whole family was/is wildly creative, intellectual, interesting, a wonderful combination of bohemian and Yankee sensibilities. Everyone gardened, and I especially held the Jones’s espaliered fence in high regard as a horticultural marvel.

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, I persist in believing that nothing will ever change. The people I know will always be here, will always be just up the road, or just across town. Their losses always seem unexpected and momentous. There should have been more time.

The last time I saw Alvida to sit and talk with was embarrassingly long ago. She had had some serious health problems, and now had someone living with her. She was still herself, somewhat compromised and certainly older, but as interesting and funny as ever. We shared a good family and neighborhood gossip, sitting in lawn chairs in the backyard at the Cleaveland House. I meant to visit her more often, and wish I had.

Alvida would have turned 100 years old if she had lived to her next birthday, June 28. What a party that would have been.

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