I fell in love with the Vineyard 25 years ago on Main street Vineyard Haven. My late husband, our three young children and I came over for a day trip We rented a car on Beach Road and asked where we should go. We were told the Flying Horses was a must as were the clay cliffs at the end of the Island. We headed out in the direction we were pointed, remarking how the view would be a lot more picturesque if it weren’t for those oil tanks. We drove through Oak Bluffs not stopping at the carousel, feeling the town wasn’t exactly what we had imagined Martha’s Vineyard to be.
We wound our way through Edgartown and its pristine white houses, West Tisbury and its dancing sculptures, Chilmark and its sheep pastures and lichened stone walls. We climbed down (legal in those days) the Cliffs at Gay Head embedded with clay heads with seaweed hair and walked on the beach where live clay sculptures walked beside us. All of it felt like a dream — a beautiful, intriguing dream, but still for me, not exactly what I was searching for.
As our ferry time drew near, we reluctantly headed down from up-Island via North Road through its incredible pre-Hurricane Bob tree tunnel. Back in Vineyard Haven, as we drove down the hill toward Five Corners, the sight of crowded Main street on my left made my heart quicken. I insisted that my husband turn into the barely moving traffic. This street called me and I had to see it all.
It was the perfect combination of quaint, shabby and posh with the added excitement of a bustling harbor nearby. We didn’t have time to stop that day, but I knew I’d be back — back to wander in and out of its just right shops and linger in what looked to be an amazing book store. And back I was, never missing in each of the next 25 summers a stroll down Main street and more than one nourishing evening at Bunch of Grapes. Except of course last summer when I couldn’t bear to look at the yellow tape and the gaping hole. I couldn’t bring myself to visit my favorite street without its most cherished landmark.
But now — such great news! The store is back in its newly refurbished original location. I can’t wait to get there and when I do, I’ll quickly try to locate my favorite section — the Island books table.
The Vineyard, for all who love it, is far greater than the sum of its parts and I very soon came to realize that all of its parts, oil tanks and Oak Bluffs included, are wonderful. But for each of us, some parts are more important than others. For me, Bunch of Grapes is one of those. Thank you Ann Nelson and Dawn Braasch for bringing it back. The clock on Main Street is ticking once again and all is right with the Vineyard.
New Paltz, N.Y.