The doll house was the last thing to go. A friend called; the long-held family home had been sold, a closing would be held in a matter of days and the final bits of family life were being swept from the place. They had found the doll house, an architectural beauty with a real shingled roof, windows with shutters and a front porch. Would the grandchildren like it? The answer was yes, and shortly the doll house was in the back of the car, a dusty hat box full of tiny furniture tucked alongside it.

The doll house would soon have new owners, like the real house that had just been sold. And it stirred thoughts about the Vineyard and the generational shift taking place all around us. The story has variations but generally goes like this: family summer house is gathering place for decades, elder generation dies, surviving children, now adults themselves, either cannot afford to keep the house or cannot agree on a plan. So the house is sold. Real estate values being what they are, everyone comes out of the deal with a little money, but usually not enough to buy a comparable place on the Vineyard. So people move on. Others take their place. Hopefully they love the Island as much, care for it the same way, although that can’t be guaranteed.

The doll house has fresh floor coverings now and a new set of wooden dolls. But tiny wall painting, done by an unknown child years ago and discovered during the refurbishing, will stay. It serves as a reminder that houses are about people after all — and people are what make the Vineyard a special place.