In this serialized novel set on the Vineyard in real time, a native Islander (“Call me Becca”) returns home after many years in Manhattan to help her eccentric Uncle Abe keep his landscaping business, Pequot, afloat. Through Mott (Pequot’s general manager) she’s met Quincas (a Brazilian laborer) and the rest of Pequot’s staff. Uncle Abe has an intense loathing of Richard Moby, the CEO of Broadway, an off-Island landscaping business. Abe is irrationally convinced that Moby wants to destroy Abe personally, as well as all Island-based landscaping/nursery businesses in general.

July 4, 2008

Dear P:

Happy Independence Day (from the home of the finest teen singer in Massachusetts)! Only have a short time to write, about to head down to the parade, if it doesn’t get rained out; I have seven cousins in it. So do most people.

Speaking of independence ... I’m starting to yearn for that myself. Don’t get me wrong; I love the work I’m doing for Pequot. It’s a ball dallying with local wild edibles; f’rinstance, black locust flowers recently made yummy fritters, as elderberry flowers are making now; I’m about done stalking wild asparagus, and have evolved to stalking wild strawberries. It’s a fine way to feel useful. But but but but ...

But dealing with Abe’s Broadway-obsession is really becoming a drag. It got worse earlier this week, because Town Garden, another Island nursery, has responded to his Call To Arms.

Town Garden has a very specific mission, a pretty neat one I think. They work in the historic districts, especially in Edgartown and OB, and mostly for summer homes, creating “traditional” yards. They’re all about rambling roses and hydrangeas, sometimes lilacs — they don’t bother with forsythia, for instance, because it flowers before most of their clients get here. It’s a family business, just three of them; the daughter was a few years ahead of me and I’ve known them all my life. They’re not eccentric like Abe. In fact, they’re in that sub-stratum of Yankee WASPS who go to great lengths to act not-upset, even when they are.

But now they’re upset, and they’re upset with Mr. Moby’s Broadway Nursery. They’d heard Abe had grievances with Moby too. So when they ran into Abe at an artists’ reception last Sunday, they compared notes. That was a terrible idea.

Town Garden buys trees from Broadway because they don’t have the acreage for a tree farm. They had ordered some late-blooming lilacs, but it was all early-blooming lilacs that arrived. They sent the order back, and naturally expected Broadway to pay for the cost of shipping the wrong freight. But Broadway insisted it was an error on Town Garden’s part and refused to pay. Then the shipping company made some ominous noises about refusing to work with Town Garden again because they were “problem clients.”

This is exactly a scenario that Abe claimed Moby was trying to provoke, a couple weeks back. Town Garden actually resolved the problem with the shippers, but they made the mistake of telling Abe about it anecdotally — and instead of seeing it as “a problem that got resolved,” he’s just seeing that there was a problem to start with — further evidence that Broadway (i.e., Moby) is up to no good.

But Town Garden has a more serious problem with Broadway: when the right lilacs arrived, they turned out to be infested with insect larvae. (That was another Broadway scheme Abe had dolefully prognosticated. So now he’s entirely convinced of his own prophetic insights. Argh!) Town Garden couldn’t return the trees again, because they’d fall too far behind schedule, and the client (Hollywood exec) would throw a fit (apparently he’s famous for this). So at their own expense and time, Town Garden dealt with the insect larvae. The whole thing was unfortunate, but it all turned out okay in the end. Except for the part where they had a rather ordinary complaint against a corporate entity, and Abe responded to their kvetching as if they were sacrificial lambs — and they bought into it. Now they want to help him “catch Moby in the act” of doing something unethical, so that they can blow the whistle and turn opinion (general and professional both) against Broadway.

These are reasonable, sane people. Mott saw them the next evening at Conroy Apothecary’s 20th anniversary party. (Where but on the Vineyard would a drugstore host a bash complete with sushi and live music? I love that about this place.) He tried to warn them about the fire they were fueling, but they really couldn’t see it. They just think a fellow landscaper has a similar complaint and they’re looking out for each other. Ha! I wish that’s all it was! I can’t blame them, though. It’s hard to resist Abe once you’ve aligned yourself with him; what skiff in tow to a steamship can stand still? I’m just afraid the steamship is about to run aground...

And on that cheery note — one more check of the weather and then off to the parade.



Be part of the Your Name Here campaign: any person or business donating $250 or more to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services can get a mention in Moby Rich. For more information, please contact Jan Hatchard at 508-693-7900, extension 374.

Vineyard novelist Nicole Galland’s critically-acclaimed works include Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. Visit her Web site,, for more on Moby Rich.