How I have been enjoying these sunny June mornings! Three days in a row I’ve walked down to Tisbury Great Pond past Hasty Runner’s field. The red-winged blackbirds have been darting across it several mornings when I have passed by and energetic rabbits hopping about.
I like to wake up by walking somewhere each morning in any season. I have favorite walks. In West Tisbury, one takes me through the woods past Glimmerglass Pond, another across a Whiting field. And I enjoy walking down Middle Road or through the West Tisbury cemetery and along Scotchman’s Lane. And of course there’s the pathway along the Mill Pond where two swans are in residence just now.
But these early June days, my choice of roads has been altered by spring traffic. Middle Road and Old County Road are too busy with landscapers pulling trucks full of their paraphernalia to make for comfortable, safe walking, so I have turned to the dirt road beside Up-Island Automotive for my meanderings. It passes Hasty’s field and apartments and winds its way down to the Great Pond. Since we are an Island, a good Vineyard walk should include a glimpse of one body of water or another.
To my delight, there were still lilacs and Russian olive perfuming the air along the road, and horse chestnut blossoms carpeting it here and there. When I see a carpet of petals along a road, I am always reminded of the Moorish ruler of Portugal’s Algarve centuries ago. He married a Scandinavian princess who soon longed for the snows of the north. To make her less homesick, her husband planted almond trees so their petals would tumble like snow to the ground and carpet it with white.
Occasionally, I encounter Ben Moore down at the pond looking after his boat or tossing a ball for his dog, or Kent Healy doing water testing of one sort or another. But on one of my trips this past week I met Richard Reische, whom I had not known before, and we talked for awhile. I had just come up from the pond where the waters were lapping the boats that are tied up at the summer dock. Early in the morning the water looked dark and mysterious. Isaac Russell and I used to sail my Edgartown beach boat Bluebeard on the pond, often pushing Bluebeard off the shoals as we made our way down to the ocean beach for a swim, or in the fall to watch monarch butterflies darting in the beach grass. Sadly, Bluebeard is in retirement in my backyard now, but when I hear water lapping at hulls, I think of her sailing days fondly.
On each of my morning walks I went out on the dock to find out if there were any birds to be seen. A Canada goose took off from the water on one visit and on another several sociable ducks bobbed on the pond, unconcerned by my presence. I wondered what the yellow froth was along the water’s edge and assume it is pollen.
I sniffed at a bush bearing white and gold flowerets that I thought were honeysuckle. But they were neither sweet nor fragrant and clearly not honeysuckle. But buttercups gleamed gold in the fields I passed and I saw my first daisies of the season. I picked a few and stole some lilacs from the back of a lilac bush. Their season is almost over now, but I tucked them in with the daisies to perfume a bouquet I arranged from my walks for the dining room table.
I love walking a dirt road.
Although I have never been good at seeing or identifying the birds that I hear, I do enjoy listening to their chirps, twitters and tweets. I can identify morning doves (I’ve heard fewer than usual this year. Are they going the way of the bobwhite on the Island, being driven out by humans taking over their habitat?) I also heard crows and geese and ducks, but once I was away from the pond, their voices faded.
At another time in my life I lived on the Lagoon Pond in Vineyard Haven and knew every tree, scallop shell and horseshoe crab along my walking route. I walk there occasionally now, starting out from Barnes Road and walking along the beach to the Oklahoma section. That’s a favorite walk, too, with boats pulled up on the shore to climb over and wild irises, wild roses and watercress, nourished by a freshwater stream. Wherever I go walking, as winter shifts gears into spring on the Vineyard, I return with more lilt in my step than when I set out.