508 627-8894


The blackbirds are here, making a happy chorus. All the birds are singing as if spring is here. The first lone robin showed up at our feeder, looking disoriented, as if it had just arrived from a long journey. On warm days now our chickens can be seen running here and there, and rooster Rudy performs his special wing maneuver, hoping to gain favor with the hens. He’ll stand close to a hen, drop one wing and make a drumming sound with it. He’s a bantam and the rest are full size, so he doesn’t have much hope. Other times, he stands next to the glass in our side door where he can see his reflection, and crows about himself.

Still no sign of NStar beginning the new under-harbor conduits as of Wednesday. Memorial Wharf parking lot is filled anyway, with construction happening on the top of the wharf. The railings, and maybe more, are all being replaced. Peter Wells says he figures that each day’s delay of NStar work will mean an extra week of work on the other end, as a result of more traffic on the ferry and around town.

About 20 people showed up to hear about otters last Wednesday at the Community Center. Luanne Johnson came for the potluck and then gave a wonderful talk about Island otters and her study of them. She’s researching their habits and habitat, along with Liz Baldwin, who sets out cameras and provided some great pictures of otters, including action shots of them doing the things otters do, catching fish for dinner, traveling the marshes in their loping caterpillar fashion, and passing on information in their latrines. Otters have scent glands in their feet so they churn up the sand in the latrines to pass on to other otters what they’ve been up to. Evidently they’re very social, especially here where there is plenty to eat and they don’t have to compete for resources.

The baby otters looked very cute, but otters are not exactly cuddly. They’re in the weasel family, and mostly move around at night and sleep in their dens during the day. They like dens near fresh water so they can wash off; these are coastal otters, not sea otters which are found only on the West Coast. Sea otters spend all their time in the ocean, whereas these otters travel quite far over land (for example, from Katama Bay across to Poucha Pond). A snowy winter is a good time to see their travels because of belly slide marks and their identifying tracks, four paw marks, close together with a space between (as a result of their lope). If you e-mail to you can ask to be added to the list able to view the project’s photo album. The photos and videos are amazing!

The Adult and Community Education Program (ACE MV) and the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore are cosponsoring readings by favorite Island authors and educators. This free event is at the bookstore from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. Authors who will share their work include John Hough Jr., Susan Klein, Nancy Aronie, Cynthia Riggs, Michael Ditchfield, Nancy Gaffney, Zelda Gamson and Susan Strane.

The American Cancer Society’s daffodils will be sold on Wednesday, March 16 starting at 10 in the morning, at Cronig’s in Vineyard Haven by Dorothy Bangs, and at the hospital in front of the cafeteria by Jacque Renear.

The Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living will sponsor their third cultural luncheon on Saturday, March 12, noon to 2 p.m. at The Grill on Main in Edgartown. Kerry Alley, keynote speaker, will talk about the influence and contributions of the Portuguese community on Martha’s Vineyard. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased by calling director Leslie Clapp at 508-939-9440.

Tomorrow is The Trustees of Reservations beach cleanup from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (rain date the March 19). Meet at Mytoi for helping to remove vegetation washed up on the beach as a result of this winter’s erosion. You can call Bob Mill at 508-693-7662 to let him know if you can help out, how many will be in your party (Trustees will bring sandwiches), and what tools and equipment you can bring.

TTOR’s Chris Kennedy and his family are in the process of moving into The Trustees’ house out at Wasque. Chris will be in charge of Vineyard operations.

The next potluck at the Community Center will be on Wednesday, March 16 starting at 6 p.m. Annie Heywood will be the host; all are welcome!

The board of the Community Center has been hard at work drafting guidelines for use of the new tennis court and basketball half-court being constructed, with the expectation of they’re being ready to use this summer. The annual donation appeal, sailing and tennis class registration forms, and tennis information will be going into the mail in the next week or so. If you are not on the mailing list and would like this information, you can e-mail to or call 508-627-8222.

Regarding a past column’s question from Peter, no definitive answers have been found regarding the origins of the name of Sampson’s Hill. The best guess is that it may have originally been Simpson’s Hill, with the “i” mistakenly changed to “a” on some hard-to-read map. As Peter has mentioned, this has happened on some USGS maps. Simpson was a common name on the island in the last century, and some Simpsons are buried behind the new Chappaquiddick Cemetery across from the community center. Anyone know the location of Chappy cemeteries and graves?