As I sit at breakfast, I can hear a chainsaw next door. It turns out that a magnificent shade tree is being cut down. The trees over our houses in this neighborhood, combined with the breezes that come across the cemetery, have allowed us to live without air conditioning in the summer. We’ll probably have to endure the noise from the air conditioning next door now, and have to close our windows and install our own air conditioning in order to have any peace.

The L.A. investors have hired a prominent local architect to design the house to replace the one they’ll tear down. It will have all the requisite features that L.A. investors expect, including a pool and cabana. I’m sure the kitchen will have two dishwashers and a built in espresso maker, and all the other things on the McMansion checklist. It will occupy most of the lot, eliminating any open space save for the pool. When the work is done, they’ll sell for a pretty penny, as they have elsewhere in town.

The architect is a known quantity, very much in fashion now. He has a formula that pretends to remember Edgartown’s past, but adds preciousness that it never had. The vernacular of old town, that juxtaposed Captain’s houses with sailor’s houses and simple sail lofts like the Old Sculpin Gallery, is lost to him and, by extension, to all of us.

Oh well. His work is kind of like McDonalds. It’s all the same, but you know exactly what you are getting.

James B. Riley