Welcome. Edgartown News was born from the simple fact that I have ink and Dektol in my veins and I need to write and photograph more than I need air or food, and from my love for this little town where I grew up and raised my family, the town I have left a few times but can't quite shake for good. Here you will find wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sun and Surf at Moshup Beach

The Edgartown contingent packed up and headed to Moshup Beach today for a little family fun in the sun, with an awareness that summer is short and winter is long, and that summer is more than half over now. And a fun time it was. The great thing about Gay Head is it's as far away from home as we can get without taking the ferry, and it truly is another world up there. The southwesterly wind is fresh off the water, and the sun even feels closer on the western-most end of the Island. Then add the clay cliffs, the boulders - glacial detritus deposited here eons ago - and the rolling waves, and you've got all the ingredients for an exotic Sunday afternoon. Okay, I'll confess: I was also eager to have another go with my new waterproof camera.


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It still feels totally counter-intuitive to walk into the surf with a camera, I must say.

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My family's umbrella to the right, Gay Head Lighthouse to the left.

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Boogie, baby!

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Found art.

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He's a wanderer.

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Nature's art.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Steeple Raising

After seeing various newly created steeple parts appear on the sidewalk at the base of the Old Whaling Church during the course of the previous week, and eventually seeing the finished top-piece appear, I caught wind that the entire assemblage would be raised up and put back into place on the top of the town clock tower at 8:00 Monday morning November 30.

Not wanting to miss this historic event - and relieved to find that my only appointment of the day was not scheduled until 10:15 - I got up at the crack of dawn, readied my camera gear, and walked down the block, arriving in position on the sidewalk in front of St. Elizabeth's at 7:45 (and having no idea that I'd be standing in the freezing cold for more than two hours).


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The first thing I noticed on my walk (immediately after realizing it was a freezing cold day, probably the coldest day of the year so far, with a chilly northwest wind), was that the block between my house and the clock was bustling with activity. The town Christmas trees were being delivered and placed in their stands on one side of the street, while the Donaroma crew were busy decorating the lanterns on the other side of the street, while at the same time, a line of traffic cones marked off the parking spaces in anticipation of the arrival of the crane. Policemen, workers, and townspeople had also begun to assemble.

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John Anderson and Myles Thurlow, readying the steeple for its trip aloft.

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Here comes the crane.

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While nearby, the town Christmas trees and stands are at the ready.

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Myles, checking the fastenings.

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Keep your eye on that upper-most platform. It would be Myles' job to climb up to and perch himself on this out-lying section of staging and, piece by piece, disassemble the metal cage that surrounded the platform, leaving him perched high above the street with no safety railings (he was tethered by a harness, but still...).

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All eyes were on the clock tower.

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Stuart Fuller takes a break from Christmas tree duty to watch and to chat with Gazette reporter Mark Lovewell.

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Baxter was the crane company that raised up and re-installed the newly refurbished town clock bell a few years ago.

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Meanwhile, the Christmas-ing of Edgartown is underway.

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This is as close to the top of the steeple that most of us will ever get to, probably in our lifetimes, so we take one last look. While this is commonly called a "pineapple," it's actually modeled after an acanthus leaf. Acanthus is a symbol of enduring life ("In Greece 2 BC the acanthus was a clear reference to life emerging from a grave. It was not initially a reference to resurrection in Christian sense, but in a sense that life is cyclical." - Gus Tassara, "Plant Symbolism"). What symbol would be more appropriate on this, a Greek-styled church?
 
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Mary Gentle and Sandy Joyce

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Chris Scott, Tom Dunlop, and Mark Hess

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There's that platform again. The men above, on the roof, are getting ready to dismantle a section of green screening. The metal railings on the top of the platform and the screen must be removed so that the steeple will have a clear path to the top. In the meantime, keep in mind that this Monday morning was a freezing cold day with a cold northwest wind whipping down Church Street. I was wearing my long down parka, but by the time I had been standing in the cold for an hour and a half, I was frozen to the bone. I still don't know how the men were working in the cold, handling all that cold steel, with no gloves.

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John Anderson heads up.

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The crane has been fitted with steel bars to which various straps and cables that have been fastened to the steeple will be attached.

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MV Times photog, a reporter, and Chris Scott.

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John Anderson. Chief cook and bottle washer on this project.

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As much preparation as was going on below was also going on above. The platform at the top of the arched windows in the belfry is the level where I stood two weeks ago. Being inside the screen was scary enough - I still can't get over the fact that Myles Thurlow was perched on that wooden platform on the outside of the screen, part of the time with no protective railings surrounding him. Bravery? Derring-do? Youth? Nerves of steel? All of the above. Myles was the star of the day as far as I was concerned.

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By 9:30, aware that I had to leave for my appointment by 10:00, with no signs of the raising being imminent, I was starting to wonder if I'd actually see this project through. I was also freezing cold.

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Preparing to lower a section of screen, plus the staging.

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Preparations for attaching the steeple to the crane begin.

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Armen Thurlow, age four, is on hand to watch his father work on this historic event. What four year-old boy isn't excited about watching a crane - all the more so when his father is on the job. I was wishing I had my four year-old with me (also a lover of cranes and all heavy equipment, plus he loves this clock tower), but alas, he was in school.

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Down comes the screen.

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Margaret Serpa, Sharon Willoughby, and Christian Thornton - sidewalk spectators, with commentary.

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Here, Myles scales the final section of staging in order to reach his perch.

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Myles will disassemble the metal railings, piece by piece. And yes, he's tethered at this point. John Anderson is nearby. Both John and Myles are experienced tall ship sailors so this is not their first time working in high places.

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Myles, safely back on solid ground.

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Armen
with his grandma, Martha - Myles' mom. No, I could not have watched my son working up on that scaffolding, and yes, I did say a few Hail Marys for the workers - oh look, there she is now.

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Final checking of the rigging.

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Finally a little sun and a brief bit of warmth.

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John Anderson

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Martha and Armen.

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And we have lift-off, ladies and gentlemen. With minutes to spare before I had to leave for my appointment.

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Just like flying a kite - a several thousand pound kite. Jeff Whipple and John.

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Once the steeple was airborne, the wind tossed and spun it a little, requiring lots of muscle power from the ground.  Some of the bystanders wondered if it might have even been too windy for this project.

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We are definitely committed to launch at this point.

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Up, up, and away.

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Up and over.

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Home, sweet home. If you look closely to the left, you'll see David Welch's drone, hovering and capturing footage from above.

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A parting shot on my walk home.

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One more shot from my kitchen window.

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Later, Monday afternoon. All is quiet and in order.

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By the end of the week, the de-shrouding had begun.

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There's Myles' perch again. I get palpitations just looking at that thing.

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Thursday morning.

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Thursday afternoon. Here we have a rare, clear view into the belfry since the bird screens have not yet been reinstalled.

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I'm sure Tommy will be along soon to set the clock and turn the bell back on.


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The finished product. Well done, boys.