There is a trail near my house which I’ve used for years, but this fall I noticed a little tree at a turn in the path for the first time when it became the most beautiful orangey red, contrasting with the still-green bushes and trees around it.
The color of the leaves made me look closer and see that it’s a dogwood. There are wild dogwoods in the woods not far away but I don’t remember ever seeing this one flowering, although I can tell it did earlier this year. Now I’ll be on the lookout for it next spring.
The changing color of the leaves has also made me aware of some vines that I hadn’t noticed before, including a Virginia creeper that has crept all over one of the old apple trees in my backyard. The red vine looked beautiful there against the green leaves with the red apples, but now that I see how big the vine is, I think I’ll clip it down at ground level so it doesn’t smother the tree.
Landscaper Donna Kelly mentioned to me that the abundance of acorns this fall is a result of the dry growing season. She said that when trees are stressed they go all out trying to ensure the continuation of the species and suggests that even mature trees in our yards could use some good watering sessions to help them through the winter.
This fall, Sidney and I have been driving our cars less and enjoying it more. Sam Berlow, board president of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School where Sidney works, has been on a crusade to reduce the carbon footprint of the school by trying to lower energy usage and waste. Sidney said, “It occurred to me that any building’s carbon footprint is as big as all the people who drive to it every day.”
He had bought a bus pass earlier this year and not used it much during the summer, but for the last couple of weeks he has taken the bus to school nearly every day. Not only that, but he’s been riding his bike to the bus, which means leaving the house at a little after 6:30 in the morning to catch the first ferry. The bus driver waits for him, if she remembers, since he can’t get there by 7 a.m. when the bus leaves on its winter schedule. Sidney figures he’s a good example for the kids as well as doing his part to contribute to energy conservation. I’m impressed.
About 35 or 40 people attended the potluck party at the community center in honor of Varian Cassat last Wednesday. Judy Buss and Paul Cardello graciously hosted the evening and Daryl Knight decorated the center with pumpkins, Indian corn and candles. Judy Dimond made a elegantly decorated cake, one half chocolate and one half vanilla, and there was plenty of other delicious food. Annie Heywood took lots of pictures and hosted Varian at her place for the night so she didn’t have to worry about the ferry schedule. Happily, Varian will be back for other potlucks.
Tim Leland sent me an e-mail conversation he’d had with Varian three years ago after she’d mentioned in her column how much she enjoyed her Montauk daisies that bloom this time of year. Tim had tried to start a wildflower garden at his house but as he said, “The deer and rabbits found them a wonderful addition to their diet.”
Varian offered him some of her daisies, which grew from cuttings given to her by her neighbor, Tom Pike, when she and her husband moved here in May, 1992. Now Tim has his own flourishing patch of the daisies.
The next potluck at the community center is scheduled for Nov. 7, but we don’t have a host yet. These potlucks are a great chance to get together with other people in a socially relaxed situation involving good food close to home. The host job is extremely easy, so if you can do one night, or share it, please call me at the number above.
For those who find even potluck dinners too socially stimulating, there will be an opportunity to watch a great film while snacking on an array of potluck desserts next Friday night, Nov. 2, starting at 7 p.m. at the community center. Bring a dessert to share (coffee and tea provided) and come watch My Best Friend (French, 2007), directed by Patrice Leconte, starring Daniel Auteuil. Also showing will be a (very short) short starring Peter Wells in Aquabiking: a small piece of Chappy history.
I saw Kevin Keady on the Chappy ferry last week and noticed he had juggling sticks in the back seat. He was going off Island for work. Evidently, he and an old juggling partner from western Massachusetts days are hired to do Lyme disease education in Massachusetts coastal towns. Kevin’s work name is Rusty Tweezers and his friend is Dr. Bullseye. Juggling is part of the job.
Autumn can be an odd time of year in Edgartown. The streets suddenly fill up with people all the same age wearing tags around their necks. It makes me feel as if I’ve stepped onto a movie set — a strange thing to feel in one’s hometown.
I overheard a restaurant owner talking about these groups of fall visitors, saying that the cruise ship crowds are easy to deal with because they’re here to have fun and are not on a timetable, but the tour bus groups have certain sights to see in a specific amount of time and they’re worried about missing the bus.
One fall many years ago, Sidney and I worked at Mad Martha’s Restaurant — where Alchemy is now — which served a lot of tour bus groups. We were much younger then — my big excuse — and we used to say: “Here come the chowderheads.”
The restaurant would fill up with older women (we called them “bluehairs”) who were always in a rush. They would sit three or four to a table, order bowls of clam chowder and ask for separate checks. As I recall, the tips were not memorable.