Every Once in a While . . .

. . . living on Martha’s Vineyard seems worth the tradeoffs: the high cost of living, the rent insecurity, the widespread head-in-the-sand attitude to long-term challenges, and so on and on. Unfortunately there’s plenty of sand around for people to hide their heads in, but fortunately sand is good for other things too, like walking on in the off-season.

So late yesterday afternoon, after picking up mail at the post office and onions at up-island Cronig’s, Tam and I headed for Lambert’s Cove Beach. The lower end of Lambert’s Cove Road is currently closed thanks to a washout and the discovery of first one sinkhole then another where Smith Brook runs under the road. Fortunately that’s on the Tisbury side and well past the parking area for the beach. There were only a couple of other cars there when Tam and I pulled in.

dog running on beach

Tam runs

We hadn’t been to the beach since June, when Tam was small (remember when?) and not yet three months old. That trip was for an attempted photo shoot that didn’t work out because two other puppies were involved and Tam didn’t want to play with them; he was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar place and all the commotion. This time we had the beach almost to ourselves. I took a chance and dropped his leash.

I never did this with Travvy. He didn’t have a reliable off-leash “come” (experienced malamute handlers say that even well-trained mals have a reliable “come” — until they don’t), but, more important, he wasn’t comfortable with other dogs, and some of them he didn’t get along with. So I didn’t trust him loose if there was any chance an off-leash dog might appear, which was pretty much always.

dog sniffing beach grass

Tam explores

Tam, on the other hand, has had more opportunities to play with other dogs, and he’s gotten along with all of them.  His “come” isn’t 100% reliable by any means — not only is he a malamute, he’s an adolescent malamute — but it mostly works unless he’s super-distracted. He’s also got some separation anxiety, which has turned out to have an upside: he doesn’t want me to stray too far from him.

I finally took his leash off altogether. He had a blast, exploring the beach grass at the base of the dunes, flirting with the waves (which as usual on this beach were pretty tame), and figuring out how to cross the two streams that bisect the beach.

Doesn’t it just look as if some creatures have clawed their way to the top? Maybe they’re roaming around Makonikey even now.

I love the dunes on Lambert’s Cove Beach. Some of them look as if a giant monster has clawed its way to the top. Giles Kelleher, an artist character in Wolfie, my novel in progress, has been working on a series of beach paintings in which semi-visible creatures seem to be trying to escape from inside the dunes — where in heaven’s name did he get that idea? If I could paint or draw, I wouldn’t just write about it.

We went all the way to Split Rock before heading back.

By then the sun had set, and since the day was overcast to begin with, it was getting dark. In the distance up ahead, lights shone from near where Katharine Graham’s Mohu estate once stood. (The bulk of the Graham property changed hands for $32.5 million this past January.)

By then there was no one else on the beach — not that I could see anyway. Tam came when I called, I reattached his leash, and we scrambled up the sandy rise to the path that leads to the parking area.

dog on beach



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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7 Responses to Every Once in a While . . .

  1. Karen says:

    I just read the story of KG’s Mohu and her son’s mission – what a lovely, encouraging! story. And such a beautiful spot. I hope the island doesn’t lose it’s rustic glory to development. And glad some folks are concerned for quality affordable housing. That seems to be a huge issue as your island gets ever more popular.


  2. Karen Milano says:

    I’ve visited the Vineyard many times, but have never been down to Lambert’s Cove, it’s beautiful and peaceful! What a wonderful outing for a dog, too.


  3. wawanash says:

    Reading this made me think of, though I can’t imagine why . . .


    And I’ve lost your current @ddress. Couldya send me an email?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Juleann says:

      ha-ha-ha — loved it!


    • Just reread this. Still love it. Travvy was a challenge for sure, though nowhere near as destructive as Kayla — maybe because I rent and live in a studio apartment, and since I work from home, I’m generally on-site to supervise? When he was about a year old, however, he totally shredded the passenger seat in my pickup and left the seatbelt hanging by a thread, all in frustration because he couldn’t break through the window toget at some chickens. Tam has been easier, at least in part because I know more and started earlier, but he’s no Portuguese water dog, or golden retriever, or . . .


  4. Barb Winters says:

    Still love your blog! It’s fun to get an email that’s so interesting, informative and fun instead of the usual spam and advertisements. Your stories about Tam allow me to vicariously enjoy a dog, though it often makes me wish I still had a pooch! Someday maybe if I ever get a house.
    I had a meet up with Tracy Grammer back in the summer and told her about your blog and your writing and editing work when she asked about alternatives to Facebook. She has a book in “the works” but still a long way off from the final stages. I said I’d contribute to a go fund me. Thanks again for sharing Tam and the Island. Will try to connect if and when I ever get to the Island.



    • I’m trying to blog more often — I’ve got lots to write about, but it isn’t always about the Vineyard. I’m sort of deciding that doesn’t really matter. 🙂

      About Tracy Grammer — I’d contribute to a GoFundMe too! Drum Hat Buddha, the last album she did with Dave Carter, has been in rotation in my car’s CD player for months now. It’s one of my all-time greats.

      For sure let me know when you’re headed back this way!!


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