Last Tuesday, coming back from our once-a-week down-Island errands, Charley and I stopped at Alley’s for an ice cream sandwich, and then strolled across the street to the parking lot outside Howes House. That’s where IGI’s Mobile Market gets parked every Tuesday from 3 to 5 pm. Stopping at the Mobile Market table, we loaded up on beautiful corn, squash, and (for Charley, not for me) some lovely eggplants. I miss the Mobile Market’s trips out to Aquinnah, but sure do appreciate the quality of their produce, the smiling face of Sadie Dix, IGI’s Mobile Market angel, and I like helping to support IGI. It’s worth a trip to West Tis. Really — you should go and partake.
Then, early on Sunday morning, while the earth was quiet and the fog was thick, Charley and I took a slow walk up our driveway and around the Aquinnah Circle. There was no wind, and even the birds were quiet. We saw delicate spiderwebs, the first red leaves on the ground, and tree branches gently dripping moisture from the morning thickness. It was still warm, but fall was definitely in the air. As we got to the Circle, we saw the many tents closed up for the night after the first day of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Powwow, and we spotted a few runners training for the Gay Head Run for the Light 10K. We got home calmed and grateful for all that Aquinnah is.
Sunday afternoon saw the last of the Powwow, with drums and chants filling the air, while at the same time hundreds of people gathered at the shroud-bedecked Lighthouse for a celebration of the life of Len Butler. Because of the two events, there were so many people and cars at the Circle that I heard Kathy Newman joking with Chief Belain that the Island was in danger of tipping over.
The memorial service was powerful: sometimes hilarious, always loving, and filled with stories — kind of like Lenny himself. At the end, right after a blessing from Wampanoag medicine man Jason Baird, a plaque was revealed designating the grounds around the Gay Head Light as a space to honor Len Butler for all time. At that moment, the heavens opened with a soft rain. It was an incredible ending to an amazing day.
If you don’t know it, the Gay Head 10K is a USATF-certified 10K race that raises money to preserve the historic and iconic Gay Head Lighthouse. This year it is going to be held on Oct. 1. I love this race because it always includes highly skilled runners as well as beginners, all of them giving their all for such a great cause. Cheering for those who come puffing in at the end, triumphant, always moves me to tears. If you want to sign up to run and help keep our lighthouse safe, go to gayhead10k.com for more information.
On Friday, Sept. 15, at 6 pm, a coalition of IGI, the Aquinnah Cultural Center, and Circuit Arts presents an opportunity to see an extraordinary film at the Aquinnah Town Hall. The film, “Inhabitants,” follows five Native American tribes across deserts, coastlines, forests, and prairies as they restore the land using traditional land management practices. This is a chance to learn how indigenous peoples, who have lived on the land for enough centuries to know it well, are working to use that knowledge to restore the earth. The film will be followed by a discussion with Nimpuc tribal citizen and farmer Keely Curliss. The evening is being offered free.
On a more prosaic, but equally important, note, I remember being a kid and getting scraped knees and elbows all the time. It wasn’t a big deal. However, if you’re getting on in years, as I am, falling is no longer something to be blasé about. Falls can create major problems. September is Falls Prevention Month, and on Thursday, Sept. 21, from 11:30 am to 1 pm, there will be a fall prevention information session, complete with a balance class, refreshments, and information on how to avoid falls in your home. It will be held at the Up-Island Council on Aging in West Tisbury. I guess I’d better go.
On the birthday calendar: Chip Vanderhoop, who gave my grandson his first “real” job this summer, celebrates on Sept. 15. Nadia Aiguier celebrates on the 18th. And Jay Bodnar, who warmly welcomed us here when we first washed ashore about 14 years ago, celebrates on Sept. 21.
As we go into the new week, I’m hoping that we will avoid the hurricane, and stay safe and happy as we settle into this new season.
If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Kathie Olson, email@example.com.