Chilmark: Town polls, Kirk Safford, Ed Merck, Native Earth Teaching Farm, and Pathways

—MV Times

I am still riding the lift of the eclipse and Tuesday evening pizza, conversation, and Bananagrams with friends and neighbors at the Chilmark Church where I invigorated my mind, filled my belly, and settled my heart. I think the daffodils are peaking along the roads. I wonder if Trina Kingsbury planted the snowdrops and daffodils outside her former homestead. The new house is lovely, and full of neighbors I’ve yet to meet, but every time I walk by, I think of Trina.

Anne Ganz, my mother, is happy to be home after a work trip to D.C. She is a long-standing member of the American News Women’s Club in Washington, D.C., and returned to attend the club’s annual benefit gala on April 4. This year, the club honored Maureen Dowd. Anne created a wonderful caricature of Maureen for the event, and you can see a picture of Maureen holding a large print of the caricature in photo galleries on their website, Anne enjoyed time at her desk in the club, but is happy to be home.

We will all be at the Chilmark Town Meeting, this Tuesday, April 23, at 7 pm at the Chilmark Community Center. Pizza night at the Chilmark Church is cancelled.

No matter how tired and busy we are on Wednesday, April 24, it is important to show up and vote. Polls are open at the Chilmark Community Center from noon to 8 pm. I love that we still use the old wooden ballot box, with a crank handle that pulls the ballot in and slowly flips the numbers, and a bell that dings, signaling your vote has been added to the count. I love reading the number, and generally am around the 300th voter.

Please save the date for Kirk Safford’s celebration of life next weekend, on April 27 at the Chilmark Church, at 11 am, followed by a celebration of his life at the Chilmark Community Center. His fine obituary ends by asking us to perform a random act of kindness for someone in need.

I was sad to receive a text from my friend, Holly Nadler, telling me that her friend Ed Merck had died at the age of 77. My heart goes out to his family, friends, everyone in his Zoom meditation groups, and community. He was a smart, self-aware, and caring man who generously shared his wisdom and gifts for meditation and music. He was a man of many talents who touched many lives.

I knew him as a musician who graciously donated his time to play his bass recorder for Lia Kahler at one of the dark days of winter Chilmark Church Offerings of Music and Light.

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard has a lovely video of Ed giving a presentation titled “Soft Front, Strong Back, Wild Heart”: “In the face of global stress, or personal loss, how might we resist shutting down, and instead show up with our hearts open? How can we remain in a field of gratitude and joy without denying the struggles of the world, or even our own suffering? How do we keep our hearts tender in the midst of a world in crisis, while continuing to do good for ourselves and for others? … How can we strengthen our ‘back’ so that our ‘front’ and ‘heart’ remain open and alive? How can we show up for life both tough and tender, excited and scared, fierce and kind — all at the same moment?”

Ed examined life and living, and generously shared what he learned.

Eggs are in at Native Earth Teaching Farm, and unless it’s really stormy, Wednesday afternoons are for volunteering for farm fun and a chance to help out. We may deliver hay, work on leash-training goats, or just play around! Fun for all ages, and a good time to visit the farm for any reason. From 1 to 4, by donation.

On Saturday, April 20, from noon to five, the farm offers “Tending Our Grief,” a guided ritual to honor all types of grief, and transmute our loss into healing and growth. Embark on a powerful journey of healing and transformation, facilitated by Rebecca Gilbert @nativeearthteachingfarm, Kathleen Rouleau @kathleenrouleau, Marcia Conlon @iriecryztalfae, Maggie Craig @maggie4trees, and Anna Marden @sonic_flow.

This ritual is an opportunity to come together in support and solidarity, sharing our grief and transforming it through the sacred practice of biochar burning, reconnecting with the cycle of life and renewal. They will honor all five elements, and enjoy a shared meal and deep discussion, as well as a meditative sound bath. Suggested donation: $111. Generous contributions support the continuation of these vital community gatherings. However, please know all are welcome, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Email to preregister.

I was pleased to note North Tabor Farm is offering bowls, and Beetlebung Farm is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Pathways Arts is closing out the season with a wonderful offering of music on Friday, April 19, from 7 to 9:30 pm. Setsunai, consisting of Kaila Allen-Posin and Laura Jordan-Decker, an Island-based acoustic-folk duo. Their name is a Japanese word loosely describing a feeling of painful joy – a space where two emotions meet and feel almost the same.

Allison Roberts & Friends is a four-piece band composed of local Island musicians, Allison Roberts on vocals, Luke Lefeber on bass, Mike Alberice on drums, and Perry Dripps on guitar and vocals. Their sound is eclectic and fun, ranging from groove-driven rhythms and funky guitar lines to emotive acoustic originals and tasteful covers.

The Outskirts play quirky garage tunes by Jessie Leahman (guitar and vocals), with soaring harmonies and accordion by Jodie Treloar Samson and Lydia Fisher, killer lead guitar by Delanie Pickering, and the solid rhythm section of Jim Orr (bass) and Chris Seidel (drums). The band has performed across the Island at multiple venues. Doors open from 6:30 pm, and for this we will need to arrive early to secure a seat.

For those of us feeling the pace and intensity of work build toward the crescendo that comes with summer, I like to follow this lovely advice at the heart of a letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote in reply to a class of children in 2006: “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

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