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 the wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town: my home town.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


A funny thing happened to me on my walk downtown the other evening. Or, I should say, a funny person happened to me. The funny person was Marty Nadler. I love Marty - who doesn't? Marty comes to us via Hollywood, where he was a writer for the Laverne and Shirley show, among others. Marty is ours now and has become a local celebrity, performing comedy around the island and gracing us with his wit and charm wherever he happens to be. I often see him strolling on Upper Main Street after his dinner at Atria (his adopted home - he seems to be under the delusion that he owns the place), always friendly, and always dressed impeccably. I've long suspected, however, that Marty is one of the up-islanders who, when he gets back home, tells his friends, "I never go to Edgartown," you know, the way they love to do, especially in the aisles of Cronig's, exaggerating and drawing out the word n-e-v-e-r very dramatically (up-islanders seem to live for opportunities to say those five words). That's okay, I've seen him here, and now I've got a photo to prove it. I told him, "You'd better be careful, or you'll end up in my blog." He said, "You'd better put me in your blog." I love Marty.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August Rains

Remember the crunchy brown lawns of last week? Well, this week is the antidote, as mother nature is blessing us with several days' worth of rain, giving those dry lawns (they weren't dead, only sleeping - the natural cycle for grass), a big long drink, as she can always be counted on to do in August. She's also helping out with a little pruning, as the winds have strewn the streets with leaves and branches. This is the end-of-season storm that wakes us to the reality that Labor Day will soon be upon us and that it's time to get packing; the annual pruning of summer people, as well (oops, that includes me).

Sunday, August 22, 2010


My favorite boat in the harbor, hands down, is the 56-foot classic wooden yawl Magic Carpet. Seeing the Magic Carpet glide through the harbor - silently, gracefully, sails filling the sky - is nothing short of, well, magic. The Magic Carpet is owned and operated by Captains Todd Bassett (another whose childhood on this harbor ultimately translated into a great life) and Lee Taylor, who have been sailing her out of Edgartown for the past sixteen summers. What a life - and what a wonderful addition to our harbor and to our town.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Captive Audience

Captain Rob Morrison had a trio of young boys (along with a dock-full of bystanders) in the palm of his hand the other day while filleting the afternoon's catch of sea bass at Lower Main Street's fishermen's pier. The boys were especially intrigued by the post-mortem movements of the body-less fish, the scientific reasons for which - the workings of the piscatory nervous system - being handily explained by the captain. I was impressed with Rob's knowledge (I would later learn that he has a degree in marine biology), as well as with his easy-going way with the boys (which is no wonder, since it was not long ago that the captain himself was a boy knocking around these docks).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Waxing and Waning

Waxing gibbous moon over Edgartown Harbor

Every evening that I manage to get out and about right now is totally cherished. As I walk, taking in the cooled-down air, the gentle, diffused light; families wandering about, sunburned and showered; boats and birds heading homeward, I am completely aware that we are counting down the days. I've never seen such a lightning-fast summer in my life. I have loved this one, especially, and pity the people who pray for Labor Day. Oh, to have just one more month (not that September is so terrible). I guess that's why some people go to Florida, seeking the endless summer. I don't necessarily need it to be endless, just a little longer, please. Or, maybe next year, start appreciating and enjoying it earlier.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dennis and Smitty

Dennis Arnold and Harold Smith

I met a couple of local fellas down town today (you guessed it, on my way to the hardware store, in search of electrical outlet safety covers this time), a rare and welcome occurrence in August.

Many are wistful for the good old days, I'm hearing lately - for the people, the town, and times gone by.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Three Padres - Sunday August 15

Our own Father Michael Nagle, with the parish's summer priests, Oratorian Paul Pearson, and Jesuit Bentley Anderson, out for an evening stroll, with Fr. Anderson still wearing the satisfied glow of having run in that day's Chilmark Road Race (nice t-shirt, too).


Patrie Grace and grandson. Last shot of the day, light fading fast, one-take. Love the ice-cream moustache.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Capt. Porky

Capt. Porky aboard his White Water
It turned out to be my lucky night. I had a free hour between my afternoon swim and my evening babysitting gig, so I took a walk into town, down to the finger piers, where I found a couple of boats, in after a good day's fishing with catches that included bluefish and sea bass. After greeting the wharfinger, and the fishermen, and taking in the sounds and sights of the busy August harbor, as I turned toward home I heard Porky call out, "Sara, want some bluefish?" Absolutely, I did. That answered part of tonight's dinner question - now, what to do about a lemon (with no time to get to the store)? And a vegetable (ditto)?
Good news - younger son stopped by with a lemon; d-i-l brought a bag of Brussels sprouts (my favorite vegetable) when she dropped off the babe.
I love it when things work out like that - and they often do.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer 2010

This has been an amazing summer, a "10" for 2010, I'd say. Many say, "It's too hot." I say, "Too hot for what? It's summer, it's supposed to be hot." I love summer, and I love the heat (I also love winter, and the cold). This is what we wait for all year. Make that two years - remember? - we didn't get a summer last year. My only complaint is, it is all going much too fast. In June we prepare; July lumbers towards August. We tumble over the hump of August 1st, and by now - on the cusp of mid-August - summer is a Nantucket sleigh ride, careening out of control - hang on tight! All the more reason to savor every hot day, every warm breeze, every summer flower, every bird-song, every cricket-chirp, every wind-filled sail in the harbor, every twilight walk through people-filled streets, every summer constellation, every sweet and tangy rose-hip; every bike ride, boat ride, picnic, concert, reunion, and, best of all - every delicious, renewing, end-of-day swim.

Summer streets

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patricia Neal

 One of our town's more celebrated residents, Patricia Neal, died on Sunday at age 84, at home. Miss Neal, star of stage and screen, and well-known for her grace, courage, determination, and dignity, had been dwelling in our midst for the past thirty-one years. I did not know Miss Neal personally - as most of us have learned to do from our many years of bumping elbows with celebrities, I respected her privacy (certainly one of the reasons famous folks choose to live here, I think), but I did have one conversation with her on Main Street last summer that I will always remember fondly. Patricial Neal's presence added much to our town. She will be missed. 
(Vineyard Gazette story here, and an interview with Miss Neal conducted by my daughter-in-law in the May/June 2009 issue of Martha's Vineyard magazine, here.)

This morning, in search of a simple photo with which to illustrate this posting, perhaps a simple shot of a flower poking through a fence, I rode my bike down to Miss Neal's neighborhood - tentatively, not wanting to intrude on a grieving family - and what I found was a truly lovely and poignant tribute to Miss Neal. Buckets of flowers had been placed on the fence posts at the entry-way to her home, and there was gentle classical music wafting from an open window, all obviously arranged carefully and deliberately, a gift for her friends, fans, and passersby; a loving tribute, both to Patricia Neal - to her beauty, her charm, and her graciousness - 
and to the town she had called home. 

Thank you, Patricia Neal.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bend in the Road Beach - good news and bad news

 Our Bend in the Road Beach (home of the best swimming on the planet, I dare say) is slightly improved this summer - the steep hill that was created by last year's renovations has been smoothed out, a few picnic tables and benches have been added, and the beach is, over-all, more usable.

There is one major problem, however: the spoils that were most recently dumped onto the beach (from the dredging of Sengekontacket) contained a preponderance of stones. Yes, what was once a lovely sandy beach is now unfit for walking on with bare feet. Ouch! I wonder what advanced-degreed engineer master-minded this fiasco? (Probably the same engineer who designed the man-made dune that blocks the view of the water from the parking lot, the lot where many locals, some elderly and unable to get down to the beach, once loved to come and sit at the end of the day and watch the water and the activities on the beach. This same dune also blocks the refreshing afternoon wind - it's an oven on that beach on a hot day.)

I can't imagine that those stones are going anywhere, sorry to say. 
The swimming is still good, but you'll have to go up farther towards the bridge to find the soft, uncorrupted sand.

See you there.

This year's spoils, awaiting dispersal

Beach renewal, spring 2009

The new beach - spacious but painful to walk on with bare feet

Sand and water always guarantee hours of happiness

 "Oh, water boy - bring the buck-buck-bucket here."
Watch it - this guy is looking for your lunch
Treasures to take home in a blue pail

Steve Ewing

 Steve Ewing
Steve Ewing is one of my favorite people. The way he greets me on the street always lifts me up, the affection we have for one another being based on a life-time of mutual admiration and shared history.

Steve and his three brothers, Doug, Colin, and Scott, grew up across Main Street and up a few houses from me, and Steve's father, Harvey, who wrote for the New Bedford Standard Times (I can see Harvey now, zipping in and out of town hall, on the trail of a hot story most likely, and I can hear his voice as if it were yesterday) was a fixture in town in my growing up years, as well as a good friend of my mother's (who also wrote for that paper for a while).

Steve's been building and repairing docks for years now, owns Aquamarine dock-building company, based down at Collins' Beach where I often run into him when I'm out and about. In addition to being an all-around good citizen, husband, father, hard-worker, and salt-of-the-earth, Steve's apparently got ink in his veins, too - inherited from Harvey, no doubt - as he is an accomplished poet (Doug's son, Ray, has taken up the mantle as well and is on his way to becoming a fine photojournalist).

The following poem, penned by Steve, was published in the Vineyard Gazette in December 2009 (I just love that he mentions Hinky Pease) and is used by permission here.
To a Shucker                                       

Green side up
Knife goes in
Cut it clean
Top shell off
Thumb on guts
One smooth swipe
Next the meat
Sweet delight
Eye in air
Mystic tale
Scallop king
Holy grail
Bloaters swell
Beans all night
Shuckers wage
The endless fight
Buckets build
Baskets shrink
Beers are drunk
Shells mound up
On and on
Scallops make
Winter’s business
Winter’s stake
Eye in air
Mystic tale
Scallop king
Holy grail
Hinky, Mark, Tommy too
The best of them
The best of you
Cut em clean
It all adds up
Money’s made
In every cup 
And pint
And pound
And gallon too
The more you make  
The more you do
— Steve Ewing

Steve, at work, captured on Tri-X, late '90s, after a hurricane, as I recall.
I think that's Dougie Benefit in the water.

Below: Collins' Beach


One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't have a camera in my pocket back in the days of Simmie, Hinky, old man Simpson, Mr. Bassett, Jeanette, Pete; Lenny, Charlie, and Larry - and so many more from Edgartown's hay day, so I was happy to come across this photo of Simmie and Evelyn Simpson in my files, taken in 2007 with the little Canon Elph I was carrying around at that time (used with permission from Evelyn).

Ellsworth and Evelyn Simpson

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


As far as writing goes, thinking is half the battle, and I do my best thinking while walking. There's something about that left-right-opposite thing, I think, that both inspires and orders my thinking. It's been proven that crawling is an important phase for babies, that it should not be skipped (by placing baby in a walker, for example), because crawling - the left-right opposite thing - develops the part of the brain that is associated with reading. Along these lines, I heard recently that one of the methods for working with children with dyslexia is to have them crawl backwards.

For another thing, walking, simply by virtue of its being exercise - albeit low-impact - increases blood flow to the brain, which improves thinking, and specifically, memory.

I love riding my bike, when I'm in a hurry, say, but there's something grounding - literally - about walking. If I walk one mile - 5,280' - at the rate of 1.5' per step, that is many, many times that my feet touch the ground in that mile (I'm not in the mood for math today; actually, I never am), with each step adding immediately and directly to my feeling of well-being and strength and ability to face the world (gosh, if I owned this idea and could market it, I'd be rich).

Today I took a walk out the West Tisbury Road, to gather my thoughts, as well as a few images, some of which I share here:

Norton's Field
The Norton Field is one of my favorite views in town, one of the last of the wide-open views left, what with everything growing up wild - hedges and weeds and vines - and all the new construction. What's missing from the photo is the smell - of hay, of the earth; and the sound - of the wind, and birds, and the mid-summer crickets - they sound different now than they do in June, don't you know? In June their song is new and fresh, "Rejoice! We've got all summer!" Now their song has a tinge of nostalgia: "Summer's waning; the fair is coming, fall will be here soon. Time to get your new school shoes and stock up the wood pile, it's going to be a long winter."

This field has been used for growing hay for as long as I know of, and one of my favorite memories is of seeing Phillip Jeffery Norton - well into his elder years -  raking this field by hand with his long, wide, wooden hay rake.

Now, that would be a picture.

Queen Anne's lace and coreopsis

Queen Anne's lace
Our golden jewel of the fields, butterfly weed

Sometimes on my walks, I might hop up and walk on top of a stone wall I find along the way, such as this 3'-high wall on the edge of Floyd and Janet Norton's property.

Why? One, because it's there; two, because I still can; three, it's the way I keep the balance mechanism in my inner ear working properly; and four, because it's a way of seeing the world from a different perspective - remember? like we did when we were kids. I don't ever want to lose that ability. Yesterday I was lying on my back in the grass, looking through the sun-haloed leaves of a big old oak, watching the sky and the clouds (oh - be sure to look in the northern sky tonight, right after dark, for the aurora borealis, a result of a big  - big? try cosmic-proportioned - storm that erupted on the sun yesterday). At one point, I turned onto my side. All the trees and houses were sideways - a little dizzifying to have the horizon at a 90-degree angle, but interesting - important, also, to keep our brains young according to latest research, to see the world that we take for granted in new ways, from many different angles. Yes, that's how we stay young, folks, by acting young and thinking young (oh, I wish I owned this idea, too).

Another sign of summer's waning: goldenrod at Sweetened Water Pond.

So, when you see me walking, remember, I'm not doing nothing - I'm thinking.

Glory of the Morning?