Driving down Old County Road this morning, I noticed the big maples beginning to turn orangey-red across their top canopy of leaves. The dogwood tree outside my window has a mahogany cast and I have done my first early autumn painting of our burning bush with its halo of pink and yellow leaves, soon to become the fiery red for which it is named. You will be reading this column on the first day of Fall.
The weather has been picture perfect all the past week, with one day of rain to keep things green, before a glorious weekend. Bill Ternes had great weather for teaching his watercolor workshop for about a dozen students. They had a lovely day on Wednesday painting at Glenn and Linda Hearn's sunflower garden. Bill brought home a bouquet, which served him well, as the group assembled in my studio on rainy Friday to paint a still-life set up.
Megan Rodriguez was here from California to visit her parents, John and Corinne Kenney, on Obed Daggett Road. Megan joined Corinne to paint with Bill Ternes on Monday at the Allan Farm.
The plein air painters who painted five paintings in five days for a show in Oak Bluffs over the weekend also took advantage of the string of good days. Leslie Baker painted from her covered porch on Friday while most of us worked inside or from our cars to paint the required fifth landscape. After all, I reasoned, the landscape had to be plein air, not the painter. West Tisbury artists were well represented in the group that, besides Leslie and me, included Max Decker, Ruth Kirchmeier, Marsha Winsryg, and Thaw Malin. The remaining members came from Chilmark: Jackie Mendez-Diez, Marjorie Mason, Monte Becker, and Liz Taft from Vineyard Haven. We all had a great time and plan to do it again next year.
It was also perfect weather for weddings, of which there have been many across town and the Island. Closest to home was Meg Dole's wedding last Sunday, Sept. 10, to Seth Abramowitz in the North Tisbury garden of Meg's parents, Nancy Dole and Carlo D'Antonio. Nancy, with the help of Don Brown of "New Leaf," had redone her gardens in early April in anticipation of the event. A summer of rain and constant deadheading produced a "perfect, absolutely glorious, celebratory in full bloom" garden. Nancy's friends helped with the flower arrangements, all 50 of them, and Meg's friends, many of them musicians, came and played for the day.
Meg had converted to Judaism, studying with Rabbi Victor Hillel Reinstein over the past winter. Rabbi Reinstein came to the Vineyard to marry the couple under a traditional canopy, or chuppah, made out of bamboo and hickory and decorated with a garland of white dahlias. Meg, a violinist and teacher at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, and Seth, who works for Wellington Management in Boston, will spend their honeymoon in Italy, before returning home to Jamaica Plain.
Nancy wanted to thank all her friends for their support and creative ideas. Jaime Hamlin catered the party. Krishana Collins, Sue Silva, Kathy Ham, Gay Nelson, Julie Keefe, and Dianne O'Neal were the flower ladies who spent two days working together to create the floral arrangements. Mary Beth Keenan offered her house to put up off-Island guests. It was a real Vineyard wedding, with all the love and long friendship that implies. All of our best wishes to Meg and Seth for a long and happy life together.
Gardens have been a subject of much conversation of late. Many of us are discouraged to find chewed-off remains of once lush plantings and a general green in gardens where the gardener hadn't the foresight to plant dahlias and asters for late blooms. Insects and deer seem rampant. Pat Waring planted a morning glory tepee she diligently tended all summer, only to awake one morning to find that deer had eaten every flower. She never even got to find out what color the flowers were. Leslie Baker lost all of her beans, and I have only ragged stalks where my beautiful mixed hosta walk lined the paths of our shrub border. I always thought our dogs kept the deer away, but I guess the deer have learned the boundaries of the dogs' electric fence.
Heidi Schultz and Howard Curtis very kindly sent me information about tomato hornworms, following my column wondering about their characteristics. I think the description of the "hard shelled brownish-black pupae, about two and one-half inches long," sounds familiar. They are apparently something called a five-spotted hawkmoth and lay their eggs on the leaves of the tomato plant, where the well-camouflaged larvae hatch and do their worst. Sometimes I wonder, between predators and weather, how we manage to have gardens at all. But then I look at Nelson Bryant's garden and it all seems like a miracle and a lot of hard work. And I look at seed catalogues in January and know I'll do it all over again.
Henry Bassett recently called his grandmother, Suzi Wasserman, to report on his first week of kindergarten. So far, Henry seems to be enjoying the experience and learning new things. The class has been studying the human body and Henry stumped Suzi (and me) with this question, "What is the only part of the human body that the brain can't make move? Hair." Now we know and, I'll bet, will never forget that bit of information. I am grateful for teachers who make learning so magical and unforgettable for children.
Jane Hawkes is home at Long Point with her partner Allison McKinley, after spending the summer in Portland, Oregon. It's nice to have her back.
Danny Prowten wrote to say that he missed last week's Fire Department picnic because he was on his way to Titusville, Pennsylvania to attend a Dirt and Gravel Road workshop. Too bad, as he had gotten up about 4 am to help start the pig roasting, then had to miss the eating of it. He did, however, enjoy the workshop and learned quite a bit about road maintenance systems (funded by state gas tax revenue, as opposed to here where they are maintained by property owners). He also attended a concert by the EarthQuakers, "think four Amish guys finally free of all constraints and gone completely off their rockers. They Rock! And put on one of the best rock shows I've ever seen."
The Paths Beside the Roads Committee's latest effort is in progress along the State Road in North Tisbury. I was happy to see it very artfully winding between trees. Steve Berlucchi and Bill Haynes did a great job laying it out it so carefully. It should be a lovely walk and I can't wait to take it.