My friend, Nelson Bryant, died last week. He was 96.

I met Nelson through his longtime partner, the artist, Ruth Kirchmeier, who was among my first friends when I moved to Martha's Vineyard in 1989. After 20 years in New York City I had no clue how to survive winters in the woods.

Nelson taught me how to use and sharpen a chain saw, how to fillet a fish, how to dress a guinea hen, how to keep a compost pile, how to make a jig for sawing oversized firewood, how to cook a venison steak, and how to enjoy the earth and sky on a daily basis. From Nelson, I learned how to live on Martha's Vineyard.

The last time I saw him, barely a month ago, as we chatted, he was splitting wood, feeding the woodstove, and sharpening a kitchen knife. Here is a drawing that I made that shows a typically clever Nelson Bryant solution to classic Nelson Bryant problem.