My esteemed colleague, Holly Nadler, devoted her last week’s column to the conditions of our beloved Island in winter. I totally agree with her, and I have stated in my column before, none of our friends now in Florida should be calling us to say what the temperature is there. Holly also suggested a psychiatric study of the challenges we face, especially in the off-season. I want to send the word out that it has been done, by a wonderful man who did so much for us. Dr. Milton Mazer died in 2007 at age 95. He moved here in 1961 and became the first Island year-round psychiatrist, specializing in rural mental health. Dr. Mazer founded the Island Counseling Center at our Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. If I remember correctly, he was also one of the founders of the Vineyard chapter of the NAACP. His pioneering book on the subject of our mental health, People and Predicaments, was published in 1976. It is now out of print but can be found on Amazon, eBay, and probably through our library system. I refer you to Julia Wells’s beautiful obituary and history of Dr. Mazer from Jan. 12, 2007. I read the book and found it fascinating. Actually, the Mazers are how I washed ashore. The Mazers lived in Larchmont, not far from White Plains, but I did not know them then. I was at NYU and in English classes and the same dormitory floor as Milton and Virginia’s daughter, Ruth Tessa Mazer. Ruthie was a bright light, a beautiful young woman, and a most accomplished poet and writer. Ruthie invited me here during one winter break; the rest is history. The Mazers were the first family I met here, at their home off Music street. Holly, I know you are a book lover. If you can get your hands on People and Predicaments you won’t regret it.

Speaking of predicaments, this weather situation is out of control. Thank goodness the Hebrew Center is offering us an interesting alternative. On Sunday, Jan. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. the center is open to all for a community supper — you don’t have to bring a thing! — and I hear delicious soup will be prepared by the center’s children’s group. That’s not all. Bring dancing shoes and an instrument; there will be klezmer music, one of my faves. Admission is free, come party.

The Mansion House is still doing its part to help us out of this predicament. There is a Valentine’s special being offered from Feb. 1 to 15, at a fantastic rate. Bring your honey, stay one night and then get another night free. Zephrus will be cooking up specials, the Spa offers a discount, and you may all use the health club and the pool. Reservations are by telephone only at 508-693-2200.

It’s January, it’s chili. Tomorrow is the annual Big Chili Contest, drawing chefs and tasters from far and wide; free buses will take you from the Steamship Authority to the P.A. Club. The contest is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be bands, costuming, decorations, prizes. This popular event is a benefit for the Red Stocking Fund. I’ll see you there.

Tomorrow is the second Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living winter luncheon at the Grill on Main in Edgartown. For February’s black history month, author Tom Dresser will hold forth on his book African Americans on Martha’s Vineyard. The menu will be Southern comfort food. Call Leslie Clapp at 508-939-9440 for info and to make a reservation.

All of you closet poets and writers may meet on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the program room at our library. Bring a work of three to five minutes’ duration, but bring a few in case some of us chicken out at reading. This is a wonderful way to appreciate your neighbors’ talents and see what we have all been up to while the weather keeps us inside.

Another way of beating winter malaise is the community suppers: Wednesdays at West Tisbury Congregational Church and Fridays at Grace Church.

Speaking of Grace Church, one of the off-season dates for their fabulous lobster rolls is on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6. Pick up chow from noon to 2 p.m., dine in or take home to settle down for the game. Call 508-603-0332 ahead of time to place a large order.

Many condolences go out today to many fine people who have left us. I must mention the passing of Jack LaLanne, who was ahead of his time in trying to get us all into the exercise movement.

Closer to home, our sympathy goes out to John and Wiet Bacheller and their family on the death of John’s mother this week. Madeleine Elizabeth Bacheller was from Danvers but has been living on Island since November. She was devoted to her family and will be greatly missed.

Arthur Strople, Sr. died in Florida last Friday. Our condolences to his wife of 58 years, Charlotte, and his many children, relatives, and all his friends. Who could ever forget Arthur? There will be a memorial celebration of his life on Island in the spring.

Anniversary bouquets go out to John and Sarah Lolley on Sunday and to Harry and Aase Jones on Monday.

The birthday bandwagon pulls along Courtney Daly, Sonia Balbino and Alyssa Rose Miller today. Jan. 29 is claimed by Suzanne Kennedy. Jan. 30 honors Elisha Smith, Evelyn DeLoach, Lisa Nichols and Sasha Robinson White. Jan. 31 is shared by Jarrett Campbell and Kelly McElhinney. Feb. 1 is for Lynne Goodwin Kuehne and Beau Eric Linderson. Feb. 2 is a party for Alena Shisko, Brian Robinson, Rex Henry Grant and Lucia Ponte. And on Feb. 3 Jeffrey Rancourt, Joan Jannace and Jennifer Roman take the cake. Many happy returns.