We tend to use the term community with an assumption that it just exists and we adapt to find our niche within it almost as a matter of course. But true community is something we have to work for. To me, in a community there is a sense of cohesiveness with shared values and interests and a willingness to adhere to traditions and a desire to learn the history before recommending change.

The loss of my father-in-law, Emmett, has had me reflecting on my early days in town some 30 years ago. Although I was lucky enough to be embraced by a firmly rooted multigenerational Island family I still had to find my place in our community. I learned a lot by having the opportunity to talk to our town elders over the years who appreciated my lack of desire to change things because, after all, I moved here because I appreciated Chilmark for what Chilmark was: a community.

Although they are long since departed, Grandma Bette Carroll, Uncle Bob Flanders, Herbert Hancock, Eric Cottle, David Flanders, Ozzie and Rena Fischer, Jimmy Morgan, Louis Larsen and so many more shared wise insights and made me a better Chilmarker.

And then there was Ralph Sherman. Although, like me, he, as they say, washed ashore and transplanted back in 1973 with his sorely missed bride, Ethel, he melded with the community and became a regular fixture in the fishing and gardening worlds. The pair moved here nearly 50 years ago to take the helm of SBS and quickly set up their farm-like home on Middle Road. Marshall and I had a few dinners with Ralph and Ethel over the years and, after her passing, he would still come by and talk about his gardens, the bounty they produced and, always, there was a mention of Ethel. Sadly, just shy of his 89th birthday Ralph said farewell to his time on Earth. I missed my visits with Ethel, but somehow talking to Ralph made her feel alive. Now that he is gone too I will have to visit them through pictures, memories and the words she put on paper in her two books.

It’s been an unfortunate couple of weeks with yet another change to the face of the community. Although Steven Maida hadn’t lived in town in recent years, he was a regular fixture from time to time and, almost always, shared his culinary talents sparked at an early age in the Homeport kitchen and spread throughout numerous restaurants and private kitchens. Although we bid farewell as he was laid to rest surrounded by family and friends at Abel’s Hill he will live on in memories and stories. I’d like to extend my condolences to his mother, Margaret, and the rest of the Maida-Coutinho family.

You’ve likely heard of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living. It’s a nonprofit that provides a variety of services, programs and activities for Island elders through partnerships with the town councils on aging. Their board of directors is comprised of representatives appointed by each town. Aquinnah is represented by June Manning, my friend and fellow town columnists, but at this time Chilmark is not represented. Are you interested in supporting your community by stepping up to the plate to volunteer? According to June the time commitment is minimal ­— just a couple of hours per month — but the reward is endless. If you are interested in learning more about this wonderful community organization please reach out to June for the inside scoop or contact them directly at 508-939-9440.

Well wishes go out to Fran Flanders whose fractured hip is being tended to at MVH. May you be back at your home on the Ridge in no time.

Paul MacDonald is back from spending winter in Colorado. Shearwater is tied to the dock with freshly painted buoys and multiple trips to set lobster gear have been made.

Walter Greene is back from surfing and adventuring in El Salvador and is eager to start conching with Carl Flanders on the Sherry Lynn.

It was nice to see our young Chicago friends Jack and Greta Lenkner who spent a little time at their South Road home. They stopped by the Texaco for a visit with their mom Erin Delaney and a dear friend whose name escapes me at this moment. They brought a beautiful handmade card for Marshall with the best preschool lettering I’ve seen this side of the Mississippi. Thank you for being part of my community, thoughtful friends.