West Tisbury: Rez Williams, jazz concert, voting by mail, and Ghost Island Farm

—MV Times

I have been watching forsythia getting ready to bloom, branches I brought inside a week or so ago. Their buds are no longer tightly brown. I can see yellow now, and maybe they will have fully opened overnight. Every morning is a discovery. That’s the magic of forcing branches at the end of the winter, bringing early spring inside.

Many readers will remember the Groundhog Day parties Dionis and Cynthia Riggs used to have at the Cleaveland House. Their dining room table was always abloom with forsythia that had been brought inside, and always performed on cue, as it were. I think of Mrs. Riggs as I replicate her February ritual.

Originally a neighborhood get-together, it expanded year after year to include anyone in West Tisbury, and eventually anyone on the Island, who wanted to come. All were welcome. It also became the beginning of our political season, as aspiring candidates for office carried clipboards and pens for nomination papers to be signed.

Among the neighborhood attendees were Rez Williams and Lucy Mitchell. Rez died last week, a shock and sadness to all who knew him. His quiet demeanor belied his passionate commitment to conservation and preservation of both resources and open space, to the close observation and intellectual exercise that made his art into something sublime. I loved talking about art with Rez, and often felt that I was watching him turn whatever he was doing at the moment into a painting, figuring out a composition, or a combination of colors and shapes to put together in his own inimitable way. I urge everyone to look at Rez’s website. It is a reminder of the art he spent his life refining.

He was also a truly decent, moral, thoughtful man, a good man.

I have a blind spot when thinking of people I know and care about. It makes me think they will be here forever. These past few months have taken a toll along our road, losing Bob Fischer, Cliff Athearn, Tony Rezendes, and now Rez. Looking back farther in time, there have been more changes and losses than I can bear. It is one of the difficulties of living in the same place for much of one’s life. There are many joys, to be sure, but grief over “the way it was” is hard — part of getting older, I am told.

Moving on. Maureen Fischer and I attended the Second Sunday Jazz concert at our library. It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. Jeremy Berlin, Eric Johnson, and Taurus Biskis were joined by a superlative vocalist, Darby Patterson. I shut my eyes and felt transported to one of the New York jazz clubs of my youth. What talented people we have on our Island.

Town clerk Tara Whiting-Wells sent a reminder to anyone voting by mail: “Please remember to SIGN THE ENVELOPE, even if there is a sticker with a barcode on the envelope. If not signed, it will be rejected.” Tara will have to send another ballot to be completed and signed correctly. As my husband constantly reminds me about everything, “Read the instructions.”

At the checkout counter at Ghost Island, I noticed that the basket of small produce bags sported artwork now, along with a cheery “Thank you for shopping at Ghost Island Farm.” I asked Diana Waring about them. They are the work of Henry Danielson, who works there. The bag I took home has a drawing of a dinner table set with a meal. What a nice addition to an already special place.

I just went downstairs for coffee, and saw that my forsythia branches have indeed begun to bloom. All of these sunny days have made the house warm and bright, replicating what will soon be happening out of doors.

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