Living as we do, surrounded by visitors on holiday, certainly has its perks. That delicious, delirious, somewhat frantic vacation feeling is infectious. Even though this is home, and we don’t have to leave our key in the mailbox at the end of the week, there is a tendency to want to squeeze every last drop out of the season. The embarrassment of riches on offer keeps us moving, even in the heat.

We all have our own List of essential summer experiences: sunset picnics, boat rides, music festivals, book sales, gardening, grousing about traffic. House guests get us out, exploring places we wouldn’t ordinarily visit, and sometimes we find that those places have changed, so that they are almost new again.

However, for many of us, work and ordinary life are so overwhelming this time of year that the list seems almost like an obligation in itself. (This is a sort-of perverse Island pleasure, too: calculating the number of weeks without a day off.) The longing to not miss anything can be another stressor; this being the planet Earth in 2021, reminders are everywhere that no matter how we strive, we are probably not having as much fun as everyone else.

The point of this ramble is that I finally, finally made it to the Artisans Festival at the Grange Hall this week, after an embarrassingly long absence. Sundays are busy days for us, and Thursdays are work days. But the goods on offer, as ever, are so gorgeous and one-of-a-kind that I will be back very soon.

I stopped at Sarah Young’s handmade jewelry booth to gawk at the small glass beads she has meticulously, magically filled with tiny whelk shells. These beads are akin to a ship in a bottle, a sort of engineering miracle you can wear around your neck.

Sarah held up a segment of casings from which the shells come, those gold pouches dried in crisp spirals that you find tangled in seaweed along the shoreline. Each pouch can hold a hundred eggs, and the female whelk anchors her string of young to the ocean floor for safekeeping, but sometimes they break loose and wash up on beaches around the island.

I must confess that I never knew what was inside those pouches. Or, more likely, I once knew, as a child dissecting things and left that knowledge behind.

Sarah said that the beads represented a new direction in her work, and that many of the other artisan vendors are continually evolving as their interests and abilities change. What one artist or another offered under their canopy last year, therefore, might have little to do with their wares this year. “I think some people assume that we’re all the same people, so we have the same stuff all the time,” she said.

I got lost awhile, gazing at the paintings in Walker Roman’s booth. These startling images seem to recall the nameless moodscape in which you find yourself on certain milky early mornings on the Vineyard. A deep calm could spill over any moment into melancholy at the brevity of life. That’s the best way I can describe it. These works must be seen to be believed, and you may find that it’s difficult to walk away.

Another cornerstone of the market is Jannette Vanderhoop’s booth, packed with one-of-a-kind desirables: jewelry made from wampum and other treasures, bone key chains, tiny pouches and lighter cases crafted from the softest leather. Jannette’s Wampanoag heritage is reflected in all her work, and she uses natural materials found around the Island. Every piece looks like it might have come from a mermaid’s jewelry box. Check out her stuff at and prepare to be blown away.

A chatter and a gawker, this time I only made it a third of the way around the festival wheel before 2 pm. There are plenty of other artisans I’d like to talk about, so stay tuned or just go yourself, any Sunday or Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At 4:30 p.m. on August 9 at the library, come check out Oysters 101: Growing, Restoring, Marketing, Shucking, and Eating Oysters. There will be a shucking demonstration and a tasting! Leading this amazing outdoor event will be Shelley Edmundson of MV Fishermen’s Preservation, Emma Green-Beach of the MV Shellfish Group and Matt Mayhew of Menemsha Creek Oysters. Reserve your space at

My son Woodrow turned eight this week, and we were able to lure a bunch of West Tisbury kids down-Island for bridge-jumping and birthday cake. Good times. Let me know your birthday sometime, will you?