At last, despite frost some mornings, spring seems to be in the air. On Easter Sunday and one day before, it was announcing its presence with enthusiasm. I was at Up-Island Cronig’s Saturday noon in search of white eggs for coloring and confectioner’s sugar for frosting hot cross buns. But as I left the store I wasn’t quite in the mood yet for egg-dying or for baking. With the sun shining brightly and forsythia gleaming, it was much too inviting not to walk up the Indian Hill Road as long as I was there. I spent one winter and spring down beyond Norton’s Circle, and I have fond recollections of the pinkletinks chirping at dusk and of a pheasant that sometimes frequented a stone wall in back of the Rogers house where my husband, Tom Cocroft, and I were staying. John and Kate Hough live there now, and the pinkletinks, I’m sure, still sing cheerily, though the pheasant must be long gone. But perhaps a descendant makes occasional appearances.
My Saturday walk wasn’t a long one. I got only as far as Cedar Tree Neck, but I remembered, as I strolled past the stone walls and the cows munching hay at the late Marjorie Manter’s, and the horses enjoying the sun at Bob and Chantal Douglas’s Arrowhead Farm, why I had enjoyed Indian Hill so much.
The low-lying stone walls, gray and gray-green with lichens and moss are part of it; the way the road rises and falls and bends is another. Beyond each bend there is always another sight to see — the animals and tractors, bubbling brooks, giant boulders that surely have tales to tell.
As a child, the Indian Hill road was also a favorite of mine. Then, it was because I was entranced by the tale my father told me of how the Indians, as he called them then, had bent the trees along the road to mark a path. On the corner across from the Christiantown Road was an especially wonderful one that had been bent so that — to a child, at least — it resembled a horse and I could easily climb on its back and pretend that I was an Indian, long ago, trotting through the scrub oaks and the pines and smelling the bayberry underbrush.
On Saturday’s walk, I tried finding the road up to Indian Hill itself. I remember there was a teahouse at the foot of the road, and you climbed up to reach the huge boulder at the top of the hill. My brother and I would always scramble to the rock top to look out toward the ocean that you could see in the distance then. And we would be told how pow wows had once been held there and smoke signals sent by Indian Hill Indians to other Indians. The late Sanborn sisters, I am told, ran the tearoom, but I think it was before my time. In any case, the property was sold and the house where the tea was served is gone so there was no landmark to lead me. If I had gone on up the Indian Hill road another quarter of a mile, George Hough tells me, I could have found my way to the boulder if I had climbed the hilltop beyond. Perhaps I will try that on a summer expedition of discovery.
But I was enjoying my walk along the road too. Only three other pedestrians passed me — a householder walking her Jack Russell terrier, an ambling young man and a young woman jogging. Automobile drivers seemed in a peaceful Easter Eve mood. They drove slowly and I expect like me were relishing the flowers and the trees (all but one once-lovely white pine tree made grotesque when its limbs were hacked off on the woodland side to accommodate a homeowner’s electrical needs). Daffodils were shining like lanterns along the edges of the road and the sinuous stone walls wound their way along fields. I passed the lightning splitter house and a sign that said Luce’s Farm Road. When we lived at the end of the Indian Hill Road, there was a house with many cats we always passed heading down to the market. The cats delighted in the road, too, rolling at the edges where it was sandy and preening themselves on the macadam in the sun. It was always necessary to go slowly past that house. Tom and I had cats, too, at the Rogers House, so we worried about other people’s cats.
There are many Island roads I love, but on last Saturday, the Indian Hill road seemed to take precedence over all others. It was just right for lackadaisical spring-summer strolling. When I got back to the State Road end, there was the new doctor’s building rising. It appears to be pleasant and unpretentious enough. I cannot help wishing, though, that the gateway to Indian Hill could remain woodland.
And there’s still a chance that it might, for one small, untouched tract of pines and oaks and underbrush remains with a For Sale sign on it beyond the doctor’s office. Surely the land bank, the Vineyard Conservation Society, Sheriff’s Meadow or some independent, generous lover of the Vineyard could purchase it to assure that there remains an undeveloped rural gateway to one of Martha’s Vineyard’s loveliest roads.
One small, untouched tract of pines and oaks and wild berries. May it stay that way!