A big welcome to West Tisbury columnist Molly Martone, who begins this week. She takes over for John Alley, the longtime town columnist who died in April 2020.

Well, I will begin this column by admitting that to follow in John Alley’s footsteps is not for the faint of heart. These words are the first I have written for the Gazette in years, and it is a real pleasure and privilege to write about the town I love both fondly and fiercely. But with Mr. Alley’s death, of course, West Tisbury is no longer quite the same place.

In any town there have to be some people who stand out and see to the running of things, so that the rest of us can go about our own business. John Alley was certainly one of those. His wife Anna cared for my children at doctors’ visits, but John Alley himself did not know me from Adam. Nevertheless, he might as well have been one of the beams holding up the roof of the town hall, as far as I was concerned.

I will not pretend to have been especially involved in town politics, but throughout my life here in town, growing up and running errands and reading the newspapers, he was a constant. Whenever I saw him on the porch of Alley’s or in front of the post office, I felt that here was a good town, and he was a part of that feeling.

In this last year of so many losses and changes, sometimes it’s been surprising which ones cut the deepest. There have been a number of deep cuts in our town this year — let’s keep an eye on the place.

Tuesday was Games Day at the West Tisbury School, and my children were just as excited about it as I used to be. The day still begins with a school-wide Fun Run in the morning, and everyone still needs to pack a change of dry clothes and sunscreen. Of course, the day started off cool and drizzly — that’s another Games Day tradition. I can remember standing in line for the water slide under a gray sky, actually shaking with cold, loving every second of it.

In other school news, five greats are retiring this year: Ruth Chapman, Marsha Curtis, Terri Mello, Victoria Phillips and Patty Poole. A thousand blown kisses to these marvelous teachers, and best wishes into the future.

It would be great if you could let me know things, big or small, that are happening here in town that I can put in this column. There are whole realms of town life I don’t enter, but that I want to represent. Birthdays too, please. The radiant Jennifer Haynes had one this week, and speaking of much-loved teachers, so did Martha Stackpole.

Consider this a standing invitation: family visits, festivals, farm news, fairy houses, fisher cat sightings, all are welcome.

mollymmartone@yahoo.com; 508-939-1366.