These photos were supposed to be part of “Faith,” which I posted two days ago, but as usual my words wandered off in a different direction and the photos didn’t fit. There was a connection, though. The sun was close to setting when Travvy and I pulled into the trailhead at the M.V. Land Bank’s Waskosims Rock property. It slipped below the horizon while we were walking, and by the time we got back to the car it was almost pitch-dark.
There was a pickup at the trailhead, the same one that had been there when we arrived, but no sign of any people. I’d seen no one on the trail. What was the worst thing I could imagine? That Travvy might pounce on a skunk in the underbrush and get us both sprayed.
In my D.C. days, when I was still a bookseller, Janet Kauffman published a collection of short stories: Places in the World a Woman Could Walk. I never read this book, probably because about 90% of the fiction I read in those days (and for a couple of decades thereafter) was science fiction or fantasy, but I’ve loved that title from the moment I first heard it. Such places are uncommon enough to be remarked upon; otherwise Kauffman wouldn’t have chosen that title and it wouldn’t have been vibrating in my mind all these years.
Martha’s Vineyard is one of those places in the world a woman can walk. I walked a lot in my city days, but always warily; I didn’t realize how warily until I moved here. I live in a place where a woman can walk, and leave her front door unlocked and her car keys in the ignition.
There is indeed a Waskosims Rock, a gift from the glacier that once covered Martha’s Vineyard. According to a news story I just found online, “In the 17th century, Waskosim’s Rock was the centerpiece in a stone wall that marked the boundary between English and Wampanoag lands.” Pace the apostrophe that often appears in the name, Waskosim wasn’t a person. The word is said to be Wampanoag for “new stone.”
This was Travvy’s first visit to the rock. Rhodry and I were regulars in the years before I got back into horses. From 1999 onward we only went places that we could get to on horseback. Waskosims Rock wasn’t one of them.
Rhodry used to scamper up the rock — the way the rock is split makes this pretty easy, even for the non-athletic — but Travvy displayed no inclination to do likewise. I thought of taking his photo from the top, but climbing the rock with Trav’s lead in one hand did not seem wise, and the last time I tied Travvy up with his Flexi, he broke it and got loose. Martha’s Vineyard might be a place in the world where a woman can walk, but it is not a good place for an Alaskan malamute to run loose.