Aquinnah: Winter walks, waddling ducks, war in Gaza, and community work

—MV Times

Today the sun is shining and everything looks sparkly; sparkly, that is, unless you look at the driveway, filled with snowmelt mud. It is a balmy 40° out there; sparkly, that is, except for that glorious, scouring, frozen wind. We have taken to walking around the Aquinnah Circle in the early afternoons, glorying in the beauty of the sound and the sea, and finding our winter doldrums swept away as we either lean into the wind (going up) or get pushed ahead (going down), noses freezing, eyes watering, arm in arm and happy. What a great place to live.

Select board member Tom Murphy and his wife often take a healthy walk from their house on South Road up the hill, past the library, and then back down State Road, and up Moshup Trail until they are back home. On the way, they pass by Chip Vanderhoop’s driveway, where they are often met by two ducks, who come quacking down to meet them, hoping for a usually provided snack. Tom told me that one sad day there was only one duck. Turns out the other duck had been a feast for a hawk, leaving the Murphys (and probably the other duck) sad. But they were quickly comforted to find that Chip had secured another duck, who promptly learned to waddle down the driveway with their new compadre, and the Murphys were back in the duck-feeding business. It’s a little tale that brings home the truth that there is drama even out here in the countryside.

This bucolic life is such a contrast to what is happening in Gaza. I have been mourning what is happening there, wringing my hands in frustration and anger and sadness. There isn’t much that I really hate, but I can state unequivocally that I hate war. All war. For no matter what reason. I have just finished reading “The Women,” by Kristin Hannah, a story about the Vietnam War that comes closest to anything else I have read about what that war meant to my generation, and it proves that the nightmare that is happening in Gaza is obviously not a new phenomenon. But oh, how I wish that we humans would have learned better.

That said, there are people working hard to make things better where we live. Committees have been hard at work to find new leaders for the Up-Island Council on Aging, for the Chilmark School, for Island Grown Initiative. The plans for fixing our high school building are finally taking precedence for the committees charged with that responsibility. Everywhere I look, I hear about people volunteering their time, working overtime on their jobs when needed, doing good and positive work that benefits the whole community. It is those people, along with all the glory of nature that surrounds me here, bringing me hope and perspective.

One Aquinnah birthday to mention this week. Brian Vanderhoop White is to be celebrated on Ferb. 23. And on Saturday, Charley and I go to Falmouth to celebrate our dear friend Liz Peck’s 70th birthday.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones. And get to that winter to-do list — time is a-runnin’!

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