The Planets Are Coming Back

Trav checks out Mercury, July 2016

From mid-2016 till almost the end of 2018, the late Travvy and I walked the planets on the bike path across from the West Tisbury School. They were the creation of fifth-graders and their teachers, a blending of science and art.

You can see them here and here.

Last fall in a much-needed infrastructure improvement — notice the crack that bisects Mercury in the photo — that section of the bike path was repaved.

The planets disappeared under a new layer of asphalt. My requiem for the vanished planets was published in the Vineyard Gazette last November 8 — and it elicited a comment from Sue Miller, the teacher behind the project, with the great news that the planets would be coming back in the spring!

Tam Lin exits the the circle that I think will eventually become Uranus.

Trav is gone, but little Tam Lin is now sturdy enough to reach the bike path on our walks, which is how a few days ago we came across the tell-tale signs of planets in the making. We were in the outer reaches of the solar system, so I think the white circles we found are destined to be Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — unless poor Pluto gets to be included this time?

A couple of days later we set out to investigate the inner planets. Wow! Serious progress has been made. They’re probably not finished, but they’re well on the way. So far there’s no sign of the sun. Last time the sun was a fiery circle of red, orange, and yellow. Space constraints made it not much bigger than the planets (each of which has the diameter of the bike path). If it had been closer to scale, it would have taken up the whole trailhead, and the parking area would have been unavailable till the paint dried.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like this time around. In fact, I think it would be very cool if murals of various kinds appeared on other sections of the bike path, created not just by school classes but by individual artists and others.





About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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