Aquinnah: Holiday Fair stories, town sprucing up, Howes House, and holiday crafts

—MV Times

Sunday morning, Dec. 3, and I’m writing my column from behind a table at the Aquinnah Artisans Holiday Fair at the Aquinnah Town Hall. Saturday, yesterday, saw our Town Hall packed with holiday shoppers for most of the day. The mood was one of quiet happiness as neighbors greeted neighbors, and visitors from out of town marveled at the lush array of homemade goods made by the 20 vendors (18 of them from Aquinnah). Everybody, including Charley and I, was pleased at the number of items sold, and at the smiling faces of the shoppers as they lingered in the hall, holding their bags of boughten treasures.

We all had stories to share about the event. Mary Sossong, who crochets snowflakes and wreaths to go on holiday trees, told me about her first sale of the day to a 10-year-old boy who purchased a tiny crocheted wreath, digging out $3 worth of quarters from his pocket to pay. High schooler Claus Smith beamed as he told us that he’d sold over 20 pieces. Juli Vanderhoop of the Orange Peel Bakery sold out of her delicious scones before the first two hours had passed. And Viktoriya and Jeffrey Duarte (who got married on Nov. 10 at the Gay Head Lighthouse) grinned and wiped their foreheads as they talked about the hard work they’d done to produce the delicious fried chicken, baked beans, and cornbread that fed those of us who hadn’t indulged in Juli’s soups and baked goods. We’re all hard at work again on this day, greeting people, hoping for continuing sales, and glad to be together.

Our town is getting spruced up for the new year. The Fire House already has brand-spanking-new doors. The playground swings are installed, and already getting hard use by Aquinnah kids. And the RFP for work on fixing the façade of our Police Department has been approved, with work slated to begin after the new year. I am particularly pleased that the winning bid for work on the Police Department building went to our own Jed Smith (father of the aforementioned Claus), who lives close enough to the site to walk to work. The building will get new windows, new shingles, and repairs as needed. The infrastructure committee of the town has surely been hard at work.

The Up-Island Council on Aging has also been hard at work. In the midst of the pile of work of helping seniors with figuring out the complexities of Medicare and supplemental insurances during the sign-up period that ends on Dec. 7, they have planned for weekly luncheons on Thursdays (sign up on the Monday before you wish to attend), and on Wednesday, Dec. 6, they will take people to Falmouth for holiday shopping. This is in addition to the in-person programming they always offer (legal support, yoga classes, bridge gatherings, audiology, and pedi care clinics, watercolor classes, et cetera). For those of you seniors who are alone or are unable to go out, call the council staff at 508-693-2896 no later than Monday, Dec. 11, to order a special meal that will be delivered to your door on Christmas Eve.

Chilmark library is offering a special class with Laurisa Rich on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 3 pm. The class will teach you how to make your own fire cider, a delicious drink that is said to help boost your immune system and that surely tastes delicious. Everybody who attends will go home with their own jar of fire cider (bring your own quart-size jar with lid). Laurisa came to our house and taught Noli and me how to make this concoction a few years ago, and we kept our jars in our refrigerators, serving and/or sipping as the need arose. I recommend it highly. Register in advance at

On Dec. 9, the M.V. Museum invites families and craft enthusiasts for an afternoon of creative fun. Participants can create ornaments, wreaths, festive cards, and more. All craft materials will be natural and recycled materials. Call the museum if you have questions, at 508-627-4441.

And don’t forget to give birthday greetings to Matahquhs Vanderhoop on Dece. 8, and on Dec. 14 to Joan Wallen.

That’s it for today. Stay dry. Hold your loved ones close. Take care of those who need.

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