Chilmark: Cross-country skiing, Tending Joy, library classes, and Maya Angelou

—MV Times

I love snow, and was thrilled when enough fell to strap my boots into the old cable bindings on the wooden skis I’d picked up years ago from Jane Slater’s shop in Menemsha. I asked Mum not to worry, because it was likely I’d be gone for hours exploring, playing, in between rounds of shoveling. Before heading out, I refilled the bird feeders.

Mum made a cup of tea and turned up the heat. Her puzzle table sits in front of the window where she watches the comings and goings of feathered souls. A comforter rests on the couch, and the kitchen table makes a great desk.

The wet and heavy snow clung thickly to needles and holly leaves bending many branches, bushes, and saplings to the ground. I shook off the trees over the driveway. I love how as soon as enough weight is lifted, they suddenly spring up.

Until last light, I skied through the trees and up and down hills, stopping every hour to shovel the chunky piles of snow street plowers left across the driveway. The snow fell like rain; my ski gloves filled with water. I went through every pair I owned. I learned that the hand warmers stop working if they get wet. I was reminded that escalating pain leads to my stomach violently erupting, and ski socks make decent backup mittens.

While the snow fell, I was enveloped in a heavy silence punctuated only by loud cracks when rotten branches broke. Even though I checked often for cars, I never heard their approach, and was grateful for those that honked a heads-up that they were passing, saving me from blindly stepping into their path.

Tending Joy is the name of Ingrid Goff’s store, and I appreciate being able to stop in for a dose on my way home from the dump, Cronig’s, or Conroy’s.

Her husband, Jonah Maidoff, is offering a playwriting class at the West Tisbury library on March 10, 17, and 24. You can sign up by emailing I did.

“Dance with Tessa” continues Saturdays, 1 to 2 pm, at the Chilmark library, and I hope to make it. Rebecca Gilbert of Native Earth Teaching Farm will be teaching two classes at the Chilmark library, both on Saturdays from 2:30 to 3:30 pm — March 9 will be weaving small bags (perfect for your cell phone), and March 16 will be how to draw Celtic knots, techniques and lore for artists, crafters, and doodlers.

Friday evening, Mum and I double-dipped. We started at the opening of Charley Giordano’s “Clearly Misunderstood” at the M.V. Museum. It was wonderful, and well-attended. The writing accompanying the artworks is profound, and the works are resonant, calling me to come back so I can take time to notice all the details.

We ended the evening listening to Rose Guerin and Phil DaRosa; Wes Nagy stepped in on piano, Brad Tucker on guitar, Ted McInnes on drums, and Pinto Abrams on bass at Pathways. Isaac Taylor was sick, and Rose stepped in, and did not disappoint. We hope Isaac recovers and reschedules. The talent on the Island is broad and deep. Rose mentioned that unlike many of the venues she’s recently played, Pathways is a listening room.

The rest of the weekend I will spend listening and holding in the light my friends while they honor, remember, and bury their 25-year-old son, August Engler. His father, Bill, said that his son was an old soul. While many knew of August’s struggles with mental health and addiction, some glimpsed his heart and soul.

Many of us have experienced great loss.

When Great Trees Fall
By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us become
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

If you have any Chilmark Town Column suggestions, email Claire Ganz,