Mill Pond Joe

Mill Pond Joe

Mill Pond Joe is available at island bookstores and from the usual online outlets.

Nelson Bryant grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, and from 1967 till 1998 he was the outdoors columnist for the New York Times. His tales of hunting, fishing, and general outdoor adventuring on the Vineyard and in many other places make this book worth reading for anyone interested in those subjects. So, too, do his often harrowing stories about his World War II service, and his anecdotes about his time as managing editor of New Hampshire’s Claremont Daily Eagle will ring many bells with anyone who’s ever worked in (relatively) small-town journalism. (That would include me.)

But for those who expect from memoir some insight into the writer’s life Mill Pond Joe (YBK Publishers, 2014; $18.95) may prove disappointing. The startling story that opens the book — Bryant’s six-year-old sister drowned when he was eleven, with him nearby — is only referred to a couple of times in the subsequent pages. Can you imagine such an incident not suffusing your life for decades afterward? I can’t either.

And in the background of all the compelling hunting, fishing, war, and newspaper stories we catch glimpses of too much drinking, a marriage that isn’t going well, a sibling and adult children with serious problems.

No writer is obligated to go where he does not want to go, but this particular reader (who is also a writer) was looking for more. Sometimes, it seems, the stories that are easy to tell get in the way of the stories that aren’t.

Another caution: Like all too many self-published books, this one could have benefited from stronger substantive editing and copy editing (son Jeffrey’s name even has three f’s in the dedication). And the extra-large pages, unbroken by images or other graphics, do not make reading easy.

*  *  *  *  *

I posted the review above on Goodreads, writing for a general audience and trying to keep it short. Here are a few musings that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to stuff into the review.

Nelson Bryant is of my parents’ generation. My father was also a World War II vet. My siblings and I fall into the same age range as Bryant’s children. More: my parents’ marriage was not happy, my father had affairs, and my mother was an alcoholic. Hence my strong suspicion that though Bryant is generous with his regrets about things done and undone, he hasn’t really grappled with what was going on and his own part in it. Again, no writer is obliged to go where he or she doesn’t want to go — but when writers hold back, readers often sense that they’re missing something.

From boyhood onward, where Bryant chose to go was into the “natural” world, of woods and streams, of shore and the ocean. This world was largely a man’s world, a “natural” extension of the male world of Dartmouth College and wartime military service. Except in the stories of his newspaper days, women remain in the background. His sons go hunting and fishing with him, but not, apparently, his daughters — or his wife. It’s encouraging that the more recent outdoor stories include his female partner, Ruth. They go into the woods together. He hunts and fishes; she draws and paints.

Things have changed indeed, in the storyteller and in the world at large, though deep in the woods, the great currents that rose in the mid–twentieth century — the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, and the women’s movement, among others — are as peripheral as women to the story. The natural world, it seems, offered refuge from all those convulsive, upsetting changes in the unnatural world. Tellingly, though Bryant was for two decades a columnist for the New York Times, he chose to have as little as possible to do with New York itself (a choice with which I have nothing but sympathy). At the same time, his urban connection gave him access to outdoor adventures that he might not have found on his own.

Which brings me round to Martha’s Vineyard, the main reason I’m blogging about Mill Pond Joe. Because after the very vivid boyhood stories, the Vineyard recedes into the background. It’s changing too, but we see the changes through the eyes of an occasional visitor, albeit one whose knowledge of the place is more than casual. The book takes its title from the persona Nelson Bryant created in telling his boyhood stories to his own kids (the girls as well as the boys?). It works, for Mill Pond Joe is, among other things, the tale of a fellow who has managed to live a life that looks, at least on the surface, like a boyhood dream come true.

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Bad Roads

road signVineyard roads are pretty much like roads in any other small-town or semi-rural area, but there are some differences. One is that we have no traffic lights. Well, OK, there’s one of those red, yellow, and green thingies by the Beach Road drawbridge, but general consensus is that it doesn’t count. It’s always green except when the bridge goes up to let boat traffic pass from the Lagoon into Vineyard Haven harbor and back again, but then it’s not the red light that stops you, it’s the gap in the road.

The highest legal speed limit on Martha’s Vineyard is 45 miles per hour. Of course we frequently exceed that, especially on straightaways like the Edgartown–West Tisbury Road, the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, Old County Road, and the long stretch of Barnes that runs by the county airport and the state forest.

The narrower, winding roads impose their own limits, no matter what the speed signs say, at least on the driver who’s reasonably aware of the terrain and her own mortality. When my speedometer creeps past 40 on Lambert’s Cove Road, I know I’m going too fast.

A "good" stretch of the Dr. Fisher Road during mud season. Most Vineyard roads don't look like this.

A “good” stretch of the Dr. Fisher Road during mud season. Most Vineyard roads don’t look like this, but plenty of us live on roads that do.

The roads we most like to talk about, though, are not the roads that are like roads everywhere else. No surprise there, right? The eyes of off-islanders, especially city folk, widen a bit when you say you live on a dirt road. Many of us who live outside of town, any town, live on dirt roads. It is not a big deal. Mention it to some people, though, and they wonder if you have electricity and indoor plumbing.

A handful of Vineyard roads are so bad they elicit respect, or at least knowing nods, even from Vineyard residents. The hands-down winner in this category has to be Cook Street in Vineyard Haven. Cook Street is a series of axle-defying mounds and valleys that no sane person would drive down. It’s also the fastest way to get from State Road to the Edgartown Road when summer traffic snarls the T-intersection where those two main thoroughfares meet.

Most of the year, stop signs and courteous drivers do a pretty good job of keeping the traffic moving, but in summer traffic backs up as much as a mile in all directions from Vineyard Haven and you can spend 20 minutes crawling forward before you reach the intersection. Hence those in the know take Cook Street. Most of the year we’re relatively sane, but summer makes us all a little crazy.

The Stoney Hill Road is another one. If someone says “I killed my shocks on the Stoney Hill Road,” you know exactly what they mean and where they did it. The Stoney Hill Road in West Tisbury itself is a fairly wide, well-maintained dirt road. Its other end, Head of the Pond Road in Oak Bluffs, is a good paved road that leads into a subdivision. The notorious stretch is what connects the two — or doesn’t: maybe two tenths of a mile of moguls. Not as bad as Cook Street, but still bad.

Those who live on this stretch of the Stoney Hill Road have resisted all attempts to grade it or (gods forbid) pave it. It’s not hard to figure out why. If this road were in good shape from one end to the other, it would immediately become a favored route for bypassing Vineyard Haven, especially in the summer. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, which the current route — via the Edgartown–West Tisbury Road — is not.

In my horsekeeping days I spent a lot of time on the Stoney Hill Road. For the last eight years, the notorious road closest to home is the Dr. Fisher Road. It’s close, very close. Travvy and I walk on it almost every day, sometimes more than once. “Walking” is the operative word here. I don’t drive on it.

20150227 snowy moguls

In winter the bad stretch of the Dr. Fisher Road looks almost passable.

Most of it is actually OK for a single-lane dirt road. Part of it isn’t. It stays bad for the same reason that stretch of the Stoney Hill Road stays bad: to discourage people from driving through. The Dr. Fisher Road connects State Road in West Tisbury with Old County Road. The other connecting routes take you several miles out of your way. And the Dr. Fisher Road comes out of the woods right across from the West Tisbury dump — uh, make that “landfill,” or no, “transfer station” — which is a frequent destination of most people in town, not just to leave off trash and recyclables but to browse the Dumptique.

As a walker and occasional bicyclist on the road, I see a sort of tug-of-war being played out along the rough stretch. At some points the footpath that runs alongside it will widen just enough to let an ATV or even a pickup through. Then a heavy branch will appear, blocking passage for anything with wheels — including bicycles, so if it blocks my passage, I’ll drag it a bit until it doesn’t. Then the branch will vanish or, if it’s small enough and low to the ground, be broken in two by something driving over it.

My hunch is that eventually the Dr. Fisher Road will become a through way — not, mind you, a throughway. Until then only those with high suspensions or nerves of steel will risk it.

plowed snow

Even the Dr. Fisher Road gets plowed when it snows. This winter it’s been plowed a lot.

 

 

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February License Plate Report

OMG, February is over! It’s practically a cliché to say that February, the shortest month, is actually the longest, but this year February really did seem to go on forever. It also seemed to exist in a slightly different dimension, as if the year took a detour before getting back on course.

There were cars on the snowy roads, however, and I scored four new plates: Wisconsin, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. This is an average take for February. There’s more color in the Upper Midwest than usual, and Alabama was a pleasant surprise, but the East Coast tally is pretty true to form: Delaware and South Carolina are nearly always the last to show up. I’m sure I’ve spotted Ohio, but I didn’t write it down so I’ll have to catch it later.

Onward, March!

2015 feb license plate

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Snowy, Snowy

Around the middle of January the landscape looked pretty bleak. No leaves, bare ground, relentlessly gray skies. Where’s winter? some of us wondered.

Complained, even. Some years we get through to the spring equinox still wondering when winter is going to show up. The veteran New Englanders among us are sure it is going to show up, maybe in the middle of April. We aren’t fully persuaded otherwise until Memorial Day arrives, the thermometer hits 80 degrees (F), and it still hasn’t snowed.

Well, if you’re on the Vineyard or anywhere in New England, you know we didn’t have to wait that long this year. Blizzard #1 moved in on January 26 and 27. I was scheduled to participate in a reading at Pathways on the 27th. The organizers saw what was coming and cancelled it on the 26th. Good thing, too: by late afternoon on the 27th, nothing was moving. Snow was drifting two feet and deeper on the minor roads.

The plow guy arrives, January 29.

The plow guy arrives, January 29.

We didn’t get plowed out till Thursday.

The real miracle, given the high winds and heavy snow, is that the power never went out. (Nantucket wasn’t so lucky. A reported 80 percent of that island’s customers lost power, and for quite a while too. No joke when the temperatures are way below freezing.) I was seriously grateful for this because I was editing a 400-page dissertation for a PhD candidate who had his own deadline to meet. I let him know that incoming weather might disrupt our email communication. He’d already heard about our weather on the news — even though he lives in Norway.

Travvy and I went out walking that Wednesday morning. The snow was up to my knees in most places. For Trav it was like running hurdles with a hurdle every stride. By the time we got to the path that runs behind the school playing fields, we were both worn out. It took us almost 20 minutes to cover a distance that usually takes 5 or 6. We turned around and came home.

dig 1dig 2dig 3

Once Halcyon Way, Pine Hill, and the Dr. Fisher Road were plowed, the walking became easier. The trails were still buried, but Trav and I could still get a good morning and late-afternoon walk in if we stayed on the dirt roads and Old County Road, where the snow was banked high on either side but the road surface was pretty clear. The stretch of bike path behind the Nat’s Farm subdivision, we discovered, had been in a low-drift area. We added it back into our regular route.

The big challenge wasn’t snow. It was ice. While the rest of New England got socked with a couple more snowstorms, we got flurries, drizzle, and temps that rose a few degrees above freezing then fell just below. The dirt roads got slushy, then the slush froze. My car tires would slip into frozen ruts and stay there. The #1 rule of winter driving is “no sudden moves,” meaning easy on the brakes and the steering wheel. The ruts were always headed in the right direction, so I let them take me where I wanted to go.

yaktrax

Yaktrax

Walking? Thank heavens for Yaktrax. I discovered Yaktrax a few years ago and have sworn by them ever since.

Back then hardly anyone I knew had heard of them. They weren’t available on the island so I got them mail-order. One of my two pairs was wearing out — some of the metal coils had broken — and I wanted a new backup pair. Could I get them on the island?

I’d just started to look around when Trav and I ran into a neighbor on the Nat’s Farm subdivision road. He got out of his car to say hi to Trav. We talked about the weather (of course) and about ice. I showed him my Yaktrax. Aha, he said, he’d just heard about them from Kenny at the gas station. He thought Brickman’s was carrying them.

I stopped by Brickman’s when I was in town a couple of mornings later. Yes, indeed, they were carrying them, but not only were they sold out, the entire order coming in that afternoon was spoken for. Did I want to get on the wait list for the order due in the next day? I did. I, two staffers, and a bystanding customer raved about Yaktrax for a few minutes, then I went on my way.

Valentine's Day, just before the snow started in earnest, it was pretty chilly.

Valentine’s Day, just before the snow started in earnest, it was pretty chilly.

Valentine’s Day weekend we finally got another big one. The snow was fluffier this time around and not quite as deep, but it was still pretty impressive.

Winter can be challenging, that’s for sure, but I have to confess: I love it. I probably wouldn’t love it, at least not so much, if I didn’t have warm clothes and a roof over my head, if I weren’t reasonably agile and if I didn’t work from home.

I love the stripped-down trees and the patterns they make against the sky. Winter sunsets can be spectacular or subtle. After the sun goes down on the grayest of days, the snow on the ground seems to extend the day — and the days are getting very noticeably longer. When Travvy and I get back from our late afternoon walk, it’s often quarter to six and I don’t need a flashlight.

20150216 tread

The track of the plow guy.

Snow disappears the roads, then the plow guy brings them back.

It disappears the trails too. The trails don’t come back so quickly, but the snow reveals so much more to the untutored eye than leaves and dirt: tracks of rabbit, squirrel, and deer; the parallel lines of a cross-country skier.

Whether by sound or smell, Travvy knows where the snow is hiding something interesting. He digs ferociously and usually comes up with something crunchy or otherwise edible. He woos at familiar shapes that the snow makes strange. I sometimes mistake the tall stump up ahead for a troll. Maybe he does too.

Trav wonders where Halcyon Way went.

Trav wonders where Halcyon Way went. February 15.

Then the plow brings the road back. February 16, 2015.

Then the plow brings the road back. February 16.

The trees out my window.

The trees out my window.

 

 

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New House: Foundation

Winter has socked us a good one this year — nowhere near as dramatic as what’s been happening in Boston and points west, but still it’s been weeks since I could plan my walking routes without thinking about how high the drifts are and how crunchy the snow. And forget about biking. More about winter later . . .

There’s been no action on the construction site in my neighborhood since early January. No surprise there: it wasn’t even plowed out till a few days ago. What was the point? There hasn’t been much action in this blog either: almost a month ago, in “New House: Lot Clearing,” I promised we’d get to the foundation soon. “Soon” takes on a new meaning in the aftermath of blizzards and deadlines. Better late than never, right? These photos are from October and November. We haven’t seen grass, green or otherwise, in quite a long time.

Here’s what it looked like on October 2:

October 2, 2014

October 2, 2014

Travvy checks it out. What was that opening for?

October 2, 2014

October 2, 2014

A scant four days later it became clear that much had happened when I wasn’t looking.

October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014

Two and a half weeks later it looked like this:

October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

Was the basement going to have windows? I wondered. I finally figured out that the gap Trav was gazing down in one of the photos above was going to be a stairway allowing access to the basement from outside the house.

Trav checks out the paint job, which I think is actually a sealant to help keep the basement dry.

20141101 foundation & trav

November 1, 2014

But what the hell were those holes for? My best guess is that they’re for passing wires or cables from the outside in. So far there are no wires or cables in sight.

November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014

The angles and shadows of the foundation were beautiful. That’s where the stairs are going to be.

November 8, 2014

November 8, 2014

I thought I had a photo of the front-end loader filling in the trench around the foundation, but I don’t. Probably I was too entranced by the operator’s precision, and too far away for a good shot.

Next step: framing.

 

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January License Plate Report

Here it is the third of February and I’m only now getting around to posting the January license plate report. Excuses? (1) Big editing job was eating up all my writing time and energy. (2) Winter.

What kind of winter have we had? Well, if you’re on the island, or anywhere in New England, you know already. The author of my big editing job lives in Norway. The recent blizzard even made the news over there. Mystery writer and Vineyard blogger Cynthia Riggs, who lives a couple of miles up the road, had to cancel her annual Groundhog Day party for the first time in about 25 years because there was nowhere to park, not in the driveway, not in the back field, and not on the shoulder of the Edgartown Road, because the snow lay deep on all of it.

Anyway, the January haul was about par for the course: 19 states put in an appearance. None of them were as exciting as the Louisiana plate I spotted on January 2 of last year, but the West Coast is solid and we’ve even got some color in the Midwest.

2015 jan license map

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Cheap Gas

gas receiptThe day before yesterday I filled Malvina Forester’s tank for less than $40. If you live off-island but somewhere in the continental U.S., this will not seem worth a mention, never mind a blog post, but bear with me. In recent years my fill-her-up receipts have usually been in the 50s or very high 40s.

Where I live, the per-gallon price for regular usually has a 4 to the left of the decimal point. On Wednesday it had a 2. True, the numbers to the right of the decimal point were all 9s, but still . . .

Malvina’s tank holds 15.9 gallons. My fill-up was 12.922. On the three remaining gallons, I could have driven from Vineyard Haven to Aquinnah, and then returned to Aquinnah. There’s no gas station in Aquinnah, and no grocery store either. The view from the cliffs is stunning, but Aquinnah is a lousy place to run out of gas.

The price of gas has to be one of the most bitched-about topics on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s right up there with ferry fares. The per-gallon price of gas on Martha’s Vineyard is generally 70–75 cents more than the price across the water in Falmouth. To get to the cheap(er) gas in Falmouth, you have to take your vehicle across on one of the Steamship Authority (SSA) ferries. Even with the Islander Preferred discount, this is not cheap: $61 round-trip when the car, the dog, and I went off last October.

Taking the car off-island is not something you do on the spur of the moment or whenever you need gas. But when Vineyarders know we’re going off-island, we let the gas tank get as low as we dare and then gas up on the other side. On a 13-gallon fill I save less than 10 bucks, but I always feel as though I’m putting one over on The System. My frugal New England ancestors would be proud.

The flip side of high gas prices is that we live on an island. A fairly large island as islands go — about a hundred square miles, many of which have no roads on them — but an island nonetheless. Drive more than 20 miles in any direction and you will end up in the water. Some people drive a lot more than others, often as part of their jobs, but no one commutes 50 miles to work and 50 miles back. (People who work off-island or travel frequently often have a car on “the other side.”)

I don’t commute at all. As a freelance editor, I work from home. I can walk to the post office and the nearest grocery store in less than 20 minutes. I do this two or three times a week. My regular grocery store, Reliable, is about 10 miles away. I go there every week or two, and I usually combine my grocery-shopping trips with other down-island errands. This saves time as well as gas money.

In the almost five years I’ve had Malvina, my 2008 Subaru Forester, I’ve driven an average of less than 5,500 miles a year. That boils down to roughly a tank and a half of gas each month. Gas is expensive on Martha’s Vineyard, but I don’t need all that much of it.

This has as much to do with the nature of the Vineyard as with my frugality, homebody habits, and modest income. The Vineyard was settled by humans long before gas prices were an issue — long before the internal-combustion engine. People traveled mostly on foot or on horseback, by horse- or ox-drawn conveyance or by boat. Whatever necessities they couldn’t make or grow at home could generally be found in the nearest town, which unless you were in Aquinnah or the nether reaches of Chilmark was not too far away, even if you were on foot.

Well into the twentieth century, I’m told, Gay Headers often did their shopping in New Bedford. It was easier to get to New Bedford by boat than to Vineyard Haven or Edgartown by car, the roads were that bad.

In my city days, many neighborhoods worked the same way. You could walk to a grocery store and a laundromat and whatever else you needed on a regular basis. If you needed to go farther, you could walk to a bus or subway stop. I got my driver’s license as soon as I was old enough — what suburban kid didn’t? — but when I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, at age 34, I’d never owned a motor vehicle.

Cheap gas changed everything. The U.S. interstate highway system is predicated on cheap gas. So is the country’s decades-long inattention to public transportation. Cities sprawled into suburbs and exurbs where you needed to get in the car to buy a gallon of milk. Suburbs and exurbs spawned shopping malls, where people swarmed in great numbers but no trace of community could be found. Jobs left the city for malls and industrial parks on the outskirts, leaving city folk without cars stranded.

Then it turned out that gas wasn’t so cheap after all. Millions upon millions of motorists driving here, there, and everywhere snarled the roads and polluted the air. The supply of fossil fuels has turned out — surprise, surprise — to be finite. And the nation’s passion for and dependence on cheap oil led it into a series of Faustian bargains that have been coming due for some time now.

So though I bitch about the high price of gas along with everyone else, I’m also glad to live in a place where I don’t have to travel far to get what I need, and where I’ll run into people I know when I get there. The Vineyard’s literal insularity has protected it from some of the short-sighted foolishness of the cheap-gas era. What we have to offer the world as a result may be more important than pretty beaches.

20140616 clean malvina 2

Malvina Forester after a bath (June 2014)

 

 

 

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So Much Depends on a Little Red Cart.

Susanna J. Sturgis:

The other day my fellow blogger from up the road blogged about my favorite grocery store. Here it is. There’s a lot going on in the TomPostPile: music, gardening, grandkids, forays off-island . . . Check it out.

Originally posted on thetompostpile:

Here on Martha’s Vineyard, the town of Oak Bluffs has a rare jewel.

A family-owned supermarket on its Main Street.

The “Reliable Self-Service Market”.

The market is of a type that was once common, the centrally-located town market. In most parts of the United States, the chain supermarkets and big box stores have killed off stores like Reliable.

I stopped at Reliable not long ago to buy a few items.

Right now it’s mid-winter, and there are few tourists. Almost every car you see has Massachusetts license plates. With patience, you might see some vehicles from the New England states. On this trip downisland I saw vehicles from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont, plus one from New York and another from …… Alabama?

There’s a story there, but I didn’t stop to learn what it was.

The real story was inside the supermarket. The story is about a mother and her…

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New House: Lot Clearing

Several new houses have gone up in my neighborhood in the last year or two. What do I consider “my neighborhood”? Mostly it’s the area within about a half mile of my apartment that Travvy walk through at least once and often two or three times a day, where I recognize the vehicles and the people even if I don’t know all their names — where they recognize me and Travvy, even if they don’t know who we are or exactly where we live.

On the map, my neighborhood is bounded by Old County Road on the (more or less) east, the West Tisbury dump and the Island Farms subdivision on the west, and the Dr. Fisher Road and Pine Hill Road on the other two sides. Old County Road is a sort of straight line. It’s paved. Dr. Fisher and Pine Hill are neither straight nor paved. I can’t tell you what direction they run in or what shape my neighborhood resembles if viewed from the sky. Maybe a scone?

Overdevelopment is a matter of some concern around here. So is the housing crisis. Overdevelopment and the housing crisis are both abstract concepts. The houses being built around me aren’t abstract at all. Most of the people who build them and buy them live and work here year-round. At least two of the houses were built with affordable housing restrictions on who could buy them.

So my little digital point-and-shoot and I have been keeping our eyes on a house being built close by. As a person with no useful skills whatsoever, I’m fascinated by (and somewhat jealous of) what people can do with their hands and their machines.

You probably figured this out from my October post about the installation of my neighbors’ new septic system, right?

The other thing is that two of the characters in what will probably be my third novel, The Squatters’ Speakeasy, are carpenters. I have some idea of what they do all day when they aren’t playing music or, in one case, drinking, but my muses love detail and the more I can visualize, the better.

The house is now framed and enclosed. As of yesterday, the doors were cut but not the windows. But I’m going to start at the beginning and document the building in several installments. As a matter of fact, I mentioned the very beginning in “Little Changes,” an end-of-last-summer post about changes in my neighborhood. Here’s a recap.

The first sign appeared in July 2013. A well-digger appeared and put in a well. Travvy, my constant companion on these forays, wooed at it.

travvy woos

truck lifts

Travvy has a thing for machines, from ATVs to tractors to humongous well-diggers.

Nothing happened for over a year. As the summer of 2014 came to an end, the owner started clearing the lot the old-fashioned way. Well, not quite the old-fashioned way, but his chainsaw was hand-held and he worked bloody hard.

A driveway appeared. With use it got wider and flatter.

20140928 driveway

Then at the very end of September the Cats appeared.

20140928 cats in clearing

The dog was quite taken with them.

20140928 trav & bucket20140928 dog & cat
At the end of the day a couple of days later, we had a big hole.20141002 hole & stick

All that dirt had to go somewhere. Travvy thought it was great fun.

20141012 hill 1

20141012 hill 2

20141012 hill 3

20141012 hill 4

Next step: the foundation. Stay tuned.

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My Martha’s Vineyard

Susanna J. Sturgis:

This is one of my earliest posts to this blog, and one I think about often. I live in a town with fewer than 3,000 residents and on an island with an estimated 15,000 year-round residents. I’ve lived here nearly 30 years and I have a hard time making generalizations about either this town or this island. Yet some people apparently have no trouble making generalizations about Muslims, a group that includes hundreds of millions of people and about which they know much, much less than I know about West Tisbury or Martha’s Vineyard. What’s going on here?

Originally posted on From the Seasonally Occupied Territories . . .:

Which Martha’s Vineyard do you live on?

All the road maps and atlases agree that there’s just one Martha’s Vineyard, but none of us live on those maps. I’m talking about the map that lives in each of our heads. Call it our psychic map. No two psychic maps are exactly the same, though you’ll almost certainly find the Steamship Authority dock in Vineyard Haven on just about everyone’s map, be they day-tripper, summer visitor, recent arrival, longtime year-rounder, or island native.

For many summer people, the island winks into existence in late spring and winks out again around Columbus Day. For year-rounders there’s no winking in and out, but some parts of the Vineyard are much realer than others, and some don’t exist at all. Here is the Martha’s Vineyard I live on:

On my Martha’s Vineyard, State Road ends at my friend Cris’s road, across from what is…

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