From Vineyard Gazette September editions:
To most Vineyarders there are few more eloquent symbols than the wild grape. It should be so, for the wild grape gave the Island its name certainly as long ago as Gosnold and perhaps as long ago as Leif the Lucky. At any rate, the wild grape in the tangled swamps and marshes has persisted like the old families of the Island whose scions are still after an uninterrupted tenure since 1640. These past few weeks the ripening grapes in a hundred untrammeled, joyously natural places of the Island have been making the air redolent with one of the sweetest perfumes the world has ever known. Associate attar of roses with expensive romantic passions, and other famous scents with delicate, tenuous fancies; these have more to do with literature than with life. But leave for the Vineyard in autumn the wild grape flavor in the air — what emotions the very thought evokes to one who has cruised the Island’s prolific slopes and hollows!
The wild grapes of the Vineyard are of infinite variety, all colors and flavors put forth tentatively by nature whose experimenting never ceases. These are vines which have large clusters of full, round grapes almost as black as tar, though sometimes there is just the suggestion of a misty gray patina over the black. These have flavor which even surpasses their fragrance. Then there are grapes which gleam, bright red, as they dangle through sumach branches or festoon greenbriars and oak limbs overhead. It is strange, we think, that in the centuries since the Vineyard’s grapes have been known, no one has attempted to cultivate the wild varieties. We do not presume to suggest that wild grapes can rank with the achievements of our plant breeders except in one important particular.
For jelly we challenge the world to produce a finer grape than that which Island swamps now grow so bountifully. The taste of this jelly in winter or in some far place sets up a nostalgia for the open world of Martha’s Vineyard. It is a miracle of flavor.
At all events, we hope that every cutter of timber and clearer of the soil on the Island will spare the grapevines. For the vine which is a tangled nuisance in June may breathe and drip nectar in the Fall.
Now in the night chorus of September insect music, one of the great achievements of the natural year, the chirping of the cricket may be prominently heard. Some people have even perceived in the cricket’s notes an air of cheerfulness, and if this happens to be only a projection of the listener’s own fantasy to the realm of a cool and uncalculating nature, this makes no difference. It is not necessary for the cricket to be jubilant, tipsy or even moderately contented in order to produce a cheerful sound. Like so much other exaltation, this depends upon the capacity of the listener, not of the performer.
Critics of such things, if there are any, should confine their remarks to the abilities of the audience; here, for once, is a performing artist whose work is invariably competent, standard, colorful, brilliant, or up to any other relevant word in the dictionary. Unfortunately, the audience cannot be let off without demerits from time to time.
Anyway, the cricket is at it, and recently the chirping has been swiftly paced, tuned to the temperature of the nights. Or vice versa. It is entirely possible, and we have this on the word of a scientist whose name will be given on request, who had it from another scientist whose name will also be given on request — and who — shh! — had a lot to do with the atomic bomb, to tell the temperature by the chirps of a cricket.
Here is the formula of the scientists, and it will work as well as atomic fission but with only cheerful consequences. Count the number of chirps made by a cricket in fourteen seconds. Add this figure to forty-two and you will have the temperature within a degree. Try it. Try it on a warm night and on a cool night.
A cricket thermometer is a happy thought for September with musical nights, and to have figured out the cricket chirp formula is quite an achievement for this hard, durable, earnest science of ours. There is one other matter about the cricket, however, which we believe the scientists have not yet explained. How does the cricket get upstairs? Does he hop or crawl, or get a lift? He’s certainly upstairs, chirping in the bedroom now, and it’s a little hard to see how he did it.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner