Aquinnah: Summer at the Cliffs, local painters, felting workshop, and first responders

—MV Times

Here we are past the midpoint of July. The summer season is now fully upon us, with its heat, its humidity, its crowds of Bermuda-shorts-clad happy tourists, its piles of sandy towels. Thursday nights during the summer, see a great collection of locals and visitors sitting behind the shops at the Cliffs eating yummy food from Cliffhangers, listening to music by local musicians, and visiting with one another. Kids run around happily. Dogs sniff each other. People hug each other. Teens check each other out. It’s a happy and heart-filling gathering for all — except for the unwary diners who leave their food unguarded, only to see fat seagulls swoop down and snatch their French fries or chicken nuggets away. Charley and I were there, along with extended family, tapping our toes to the music, relishing the breeze off the water, the glorious sky above, and hugs from our friends. It was a great night. Head up to the shops at the Cliffs on Thursday nights this summer, and check it out.

You can also go see the work of two Aquinnah artists who opened shows this week. You know Kate Taylor as a singer, now go and appreciate her artistry as a painter. Her work is on exhibit at the MV Bank in Chilmark until July 26. Her work is bright and clear and terrific. The show sold out on the very first night! My hat goes off to the bank for giving us a chance to see these paintings. The day after Kate’s opening, Max Decker’s exhibit opened at the Field Gallery in West Tisbury. You may have noted his wonderful painting, which graced the poster for the Fourth of July picnic. Well, you can see it in person as part of this show. Nobody does shadows or light like Max, and the collection tells a story of love of family and place that has great power in its seeming simplicity. Next time you are headed down-Island, stop at the Field Gallery (across the street from 7A and Alley’s) and take a look.

If you want to try your own hand at creating something beautiful, go to the Aquinnah library on Saturday, July 22, when Maggie Benoit will lead a workshop on felting. Preregistration is suggested for this event, so email to register if you can.

Still looking for some culture? The M.V. Museum is presenting Doug Thompson on July 26. He will shine a spotlight on the Island’s early folk music scene, from 1958 to ’63. It was an important and rich period in American musical and social history, and if you are interested in either one, it’s worth a trip down-Island to hear about it. Visit for more information.

Every day our beaches and our waters are crowded now. That’s a good thing. But here’s a reminder that abandoned chairs, bottles, plastic bags, and other flotsam and jetsam don’t belong in either place. You have help in keeping our beaches pristine, thanks to the Beach BeFrienders (a collaboration of the Vineyard Conservation Society, Island libraries, Island DWPs and the MV Refuse District). Official cleanup kits are available at any Island library, including the Aquinnah library, and disposal of any refuse you collect is free at any Island transfer station. If you don’t pick up a kit, simply take your own bag with you and get to work. Get your kids involved, and also let them see their adults caring for our world — pick up that trash!

The Aquinnah Police and Fire Departments, along with Tri-Town Ambulance, sponsored a Public Safety Day at the Circle this weekend. While Fire Department personnel sweated over grills that produced free hot dogs and hamburgers for the crowd, Wampanoag Tribal Rangers, the Dukes County Sheriff Department, and other Vineyard first responders joined them with vehicles for kids to climb on, free badges, hats, T shirts, and literature for the taking, and friendly uniformed staff to talk with. It was basically just a good chance for young and old to get to know the men and women who work to keep us safe. I love living in a place where neither the public nor the first responders need fear each other. I’m grateful to Morgan Hodgson, Noli Taylor, and Ranger Chris Manning for their cooperative work in making sure that the Aquinnah CERT team was represented. The whole day was yet another example of how we make community together. I’m grateful.

I can’t believe that I missed our fearless, beautiful, leader Juli Vanderhoop’s birthday on July 19. Go by Orange Peel and give her a belated happy birthday (and pick up a goodie to munch while you’re there). You can also wish a happy birthday to Hugh Taylor on the 24th, to Joan LaLacheur on the 26th, to Max Decker on the 27th, and to Hollis Smith on July 29.

I know there are more birthdays, anniversaries, and events out there that I should know about, but if you don’t tell me about them, I can’t report them. Please, write to me at On Sunday, by noon, I submit my column for the next week. This means that you have to give me a one-week heads-up, or it’s too late. Thanks.

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Kathie Olson,