Aquinnah: Family and community, beach grass, Earth Day clean-up, and Conservation Festival

—MV Times

Last week I found me riding the Peter Pan bus to and from Logan Airport all in one day. I took that trip in order to accompany my elder sister to her flight back to California. She’s spry and savvy, but, well, she is 85, and not as spry and savvy as she used to be, and my sisterly heart wanted to be sure that connections from car to ferry to bus to plane all went well. My Vineyard family had just been honored with a visit from my two surviving sisters, and this one had stayed an extra few days. The bus and ferry trip to Boston were smooth and easy. The water sparkled, the sun shone, the bus was comfortable. Those few hours were a chance for us to quietly talk. We reminisced, we shared worries, we grinned at memories. We sat shoulder to shoulder, glad to be together, sad that she had to leave.

Family is uppermost in my mind these days. Whether it is your family by birth, your family created by choice, or the family of your community, if it is a loving family, there are celebrations to be had, as well as challenges to be met. We are warmed by births. We are devastated by deaths. We are pleased at accomplishments, and worried over defeats. The lives of each of us impact the whole in one way or another. They matter. And so it is that when one or another of us is facing momentous future events, the events feel as if they are happening to us all. I am grateful that I was born into a family like this, and that I have become part of a wider community to which these things are true.

Here in Aquinnah, on April 13, this was powerfully and happily exemplified when the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) sponsored the planting of beach grass at Lobsterville and Philbin Beaches. Dozens of volunteers, most of them Wampanoag, spent their morning on their knees planting an astonishing number of beach grass plugs into the sand, forming a protective shield at the base of the dunes. I came at the very end and spent only about 30 minutes planting, but it felt so good to be helping, even if my knees were protesting. We show our love in many ways. I admire Bret Stearns and all those volunteers for the hard work.

You can do your part in taking care of this great place we live: On Saturday, April 27, the Vineyard celebrates Earth Day with a massive cleanup at 28 (or more) beaches and shoreline locations. From 10 to noon, go to your favorite beach, where volunteers will greet you with bags and gloves (or you can bring your own), and help remove thousands of pounds of trash. After the cleanup, go to the M.V. Museum for the Earth Day Conservation Festival, where all cleanup participants will be served a free lunch, and given free entry to the museum and a chance to get to know all 18 conservation organizations that exist here. The VTA is offering free rides for anyone going to the beach cleanup or to the museum on that day, so you can even travel climate-friendly. There will be music and games, so come and bring the family.

On the birthday front, April 28 is the day to celebrate young Sammy Kausch (the Murphys’ grandson). On May 1, it is Ella Mahoney’s birthday, and on May 2, it is Maysel Vanderhoop White’s birthday.

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



  1. Kathie, my darling and enduring friend, I just walked past your Fourth Street house for the second time in a month ( after not walking our village very much of late ).. I was saying hellos and memories of you and Charley and Fred and me. I miss you and our tea chats and dinners and loving moments. As everly yours, Cheryl Lu

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