An editor of a national newspaper called me recently to see if I would be interested in writing a piece for them about summer on the Vineyard from a local’s perspective.

“You know, like the coolest places to go, ways to score tickets, the hidden beaches, that sort of thing,” the editor said.

“Well, beaches are easy,” I said. “After all, we are an Island. All you have to do is drive until you see sand and water, which you do all the time. Then you park and jump in.”

“No, I’m looking for the inside scoop. Do you have a favorite?”


“Where all the celebrities and beautiful people go, right?

“It’s where my grandfather is buried.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s near his favorite fishing hole. When he died the whole family went out in a flotilla of kayaks and we scattered his ashes there.”


“No, many years ago.”

“Kind of morbid. Any other beaches?”

“Well, there is one that frightens me.”

“Big waves, right? Surfer spot?”

“Not exactly. It’s where my brother and I were kidnapped when we were kids. We were hitchhiking and picked up by two men who wouldn’t let us out. We kept asking but they didn’t say a word, just kept driving. When they turned into a graveyard, my brother opened the door and we jumped out, hitting the dirt road and bouncing like a pair of skipping stones. We got away by running into the woods. The men were never caught.”

“What are you trying to do, scare the tourists to Cape Cod?”


“Next topic, restaurants. What was the last best meal you ate on the Vineyard.”

“That’s easy. Road kill venison tacos.”

“Is that sort of thing legal at Vineyard restaurants?”

“It wasn’t a restaurant. I was visiting Chris Fischer. My son had to do an interview for a school newspaper that his seventh grade class is creating to help pay for their class trip to England next year. We went to visit Chris for the assignment as he is opening up a new restaurant soon. He invited us to a lunch he was making for his grandmother and friends. While he cooked the road kill venison on the grill he also skinned a rabbit he shot that morning with a BB gun.”


“Kind of. But delicious too.”

“Moving on. Any celebrities? Do you see Jake or Meg? How about Keith Richards? I hear he visits in the summer.”

“No, not really. But I hang out a lot with Ted Hoagland.”

“Never heard of him.”

“He’s one of the top nature essayists of the last half century.”

“I’m falling asleep.”

“Ted has written about almost every place on the planet but is blind now and so mostly walks the streets of Edgartown where he lives. We sit together during the afternoons on the porch of the St. Andrew’s Church, where he likes to rock in the sun. Last week he told me about Africa and the famines he witnessed there. He started crying while he remembered the horror of those days. Afterwards I walked him home, his hand on my outstretched arm so he wouldn’t have to use his cane. He said he would write me a piece for the Gazette about walking and this inspired me to take a walk of my own. I headed to the end of Fuller street, to another beach I like where I used to sit with my grandmother eating egg sandwiches from the Dock Street Diner while looking out over the water. This was when she was dying and my wife and I moved here to take care of her.

“Sometimes we sat there for hours, just eating and looking, not even talking much. She was cranky and funny and once the actor Fisher Stevens gave her two bottles of very good champagne because he didn’t know what else to do to tell her how much he appreciated meeting her. We drank those bottles of champagne at the end of Fuller street, pairing it with our egg sandwiches. My grandmother said it was her favorite meal ever.”

“Finally, a celebrity story. But not what I had in mind. I can’t even remember what Fisher Stevens was in.”

“Lots of stuff, going way back to The Flamingo Kid and Short Circuit. A character actor. You would recognize his voice.”

“You know, there’s a theme emerging here.”

“What’s that?”

“Old people and death.”

“I guess you’re right. Not what you’re looking for I imagine.”

“No, not really.”

“I have two young kids, a boy age 12 and a girl age 9, would that help?”

“Depends. What are they like?”

“Well, my daughter used to think she was a hobbit, even cut her hair once and taped it to the tops of her feet because hobbits have hairy feet. Now she’s into Nancy Drew and spends a lot of time walking around with a magnifying glass and a screwdriver saying she is working on the case of her adopted brother.”

“Is he adopted?”

“No. But he takes the ribbing well enough. And he and his friends are into making fun of me, it’s what 12 year olds do, but they are really creative about it.”

“For example?”

“He just created a T-shirt with my face on it and the words, All Praise the Eyebrows.”

“Do you have nice eyebrows?”

“No, not at all. But maybe when I was younger. It’s tough to tell, it feels like so long ago. I just turned 52.”

“What did you do for your birthday?”

“Drove my kids around to their activities, baseball and dance, that sort of thing. Hugged my wife. And then at night I sat alone on the porch and listened to my life.”

“You know, I really don’t think you’re the writer for this piece. I had something very different in mind.”

“I agree, I’m not the writer for the piece you had in mind.”

“But it was nice talking to you. By the way, when you were sitting on the porch, what did you hear?”

“The crickets chirping, the pinkletinks singing, a woman laughing, a dog barking, the wind whispering. The grass and the stars joined in too, as they always do.”

“And what did it all sound like?”

“Home. It sounded like home.”