It is still January, the longest, cold est month. The country is pelted with rain, engulfed by blizzards, threatened by tornadoes. The Vineyard slogs through endless cold rainy cloudy days. When will it end?

Shored Up Digital suggests we make changes now that we’ll appreciate this time next year. I chose to reflect on a change we made a year ago which we’re still savoring in a big way today. After holding out for 20 years I tentatively agreed to get a dog. We stopped by Sandy Paws and the first dog we saw was a miniature Schnauzer who dashed across the room and leapt onto my lap.

I was smitten. My wife Joyce smiled. The deed was done.

Kutter is a Mexican rescue dog. He traveled to the Vineyard by way of Texas, like the Venezuelan migrants. And once on-Island, like the migrants, he was warmly welcomed.

He has made himself at home, accompanying me on morning walks, entertaining us with his waddling comportment and comic antics, and keeping an eye on the ‘hood; squirrels dash away in fear.

One day this fall he was off leash on the beach and found his way home, leaving me wandering about looking for him. He’s smart, clever and adorable. Who could ask for anything more?


I was home alone while Joyce went off to chop veggies for the church supper. I opted to watch The Big Chill, that 40-year old flick filled with sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.

And a whole lot more.

I make a point annually to drift back into this weekend reunion of 30-somethings who grapple with grief in losing one of their own. Their affluent lives and lost loves are revealed over 90 minutes; the emotions, memories and revelations last with me for months.

Each year my viewing of The Big Chill uncovers another layer in the camaraderie among these college classmates. It’s a sad story, an emotional one. Once more, tears dampened my cheeks.

The minister at the funeral bemoans this generation’s loss of hope. Aging baby boomers reflected on lost opportunities for a better life. It’s not the dollars you earn but the relationships you build. It’s not what might have been, but who you are. It’s not changing the world but making your part of it more tolerable. It’s recognizing and acknowledging your experience, your contentment, your hopes. Wear a smile, not a frown.

In the movie, each character reveals wishes and hopes for a better life, an opportunity to change in a positive way. And the last line, “We’re never leaving,” reveals the fraternity and hope each character holds.

One hope I sought was realized in 2022. Three years ago, I learned of a long walk in Scotland. My spinning teacher shared her experience walking the West Highland Way, a 100-mile hike north of Glasgow. I was intrigued.

I booked flights, arranged accommodations, bought boots and prepared to go. Covid postponed my plans. Meanwhile, Joyce allowed she was not interested in a “forced march” up hill and down dale. I was disappointed but accepted her rationale. My daughter Jill stepped up and offered to join me. She loves to travel and keeps an eye on my advancing age.

The walk was everything I dreamed of and much more. Jill proved a great traveling companion, willing and able to keep up with her old man. We shared long conversations and personal peeves, reflecting on our past, anticipating our future.

The walk was neither as difficult nor as challenging as I’d feared. The B&Bs were comfortable, the food delicious, the pubs superb. And the people we met along the Way were amusing, engaging, encouraging.

These are my January musings as the month closes. The month continues to offer a perspective on our past even as we zoom into the year ahead.

Tom Dresser is an Oak Bluffs writer.