Isabel Washington Powell: Her Love Is Life

She reaches out with cool, fragile fingers — a thin, velour hand steadying herself with a gentle hold. It hasn’t been such a good month for her health But the old wicker chair on the Oak Bluffs porch is positioned in the sun to warm her and she gingerly negotiates herself into it. Pausing to catch her breath, she will chat about politics (“Gore is going win”), share opinions (“Oprah, please, do you need me to send you some Kleenex?”), and the perspective of many years. Isabel Washington Powell, decked out in smiles, red lipstick and every hair in place, is ready.

Read More

Travis Tuck: Sculpting Life on His Terms

“I guess if you’re comfortable with how the game is going to end, then you can play.” Sounds of a baseball game float through the window from the playing field on the other side of the trees. “Personally, and I don’t mean this for others, it’s like — I don’t know, but I tend to believe that this life is it. So I’m not sitting there worrying about judgments and devils and angels. No hell to pay. When it’s over, it’s over.” .

Read More

The Matriarch of Opinions and Secrets

Her voice remains low, a library voice, a bedtime story voice; a soothing, unhurried monotone whether she is talking about her six children, about the car accident she had when she was 17, or about the ghost of the late Elizabeth Vanderhoop, sister of her first husband, William Vanderhoop, who drowned in the cistern when she was four, then returned as a spirit to hover near the house.

Read More

Vineyard Inside Out: Island Roots Continue to Spread With Next Generation

The day was all balmy breeze and blue-sky perfect, and Flat Point Farm and Tisbury Great Pond looked like a canvas painted by Ray Ellis. Island native Ryan Begley, son of Kevin and Patty and brother of Keegan, was about to marry longtime seasonal resident Adriana Stimola, daughter of Michael and Rosemary and sister of Aubrey Stimola Ryan. And as natural as wedding rings and heartfelt declarations, the Vineyard spirit infiltrated the ceremony.

Officiate Dr. Bette Kerr (a longtime friend and associate of the Stimolas from New York) welcomed everyone.

Read More

Illumination Night Magic Clears Clutter of a More Hectic Century

Maybe it's the sound: giggling, try-and-catch-me children, laughing adults, backyard party chatter.

Maybe it's the color: pastels and bright hues sprinkled over pathways and porches and suspended in mid-flight like handfuls of confetti.

Maybe it's all the smiles: people on front porch rocking chairs or strolling along walkways; everyone ready to pose for pictures and tell you their names, as if they have been commissioned to talk to strangers.

Read More

At Charter School, Calm First Morning: Games, Recess, Hand Paintings, Lunch

The first day of school at the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School feels almost like a block party: people hugging each other; adults carrying vases of flowers and trays of snacks; children buddying up; first-name basis all around. The occasion is balanced between a sense of celebration and nonchalance.

Read More

Hot-Footing It to See a Red-Footed Falcon

There it was, perched serenely on the 35-17 runway sign of the Katama airfield: a red-footed falcon, Falco vespertinus, the first sighting of its species on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The news was heralded on the front page of The New York Times, in the Boston Globe, across the Internet. In birding circles, this was a spectacular event - once in a lifetime, some called it, that a species would be recorded venturing thousands of miles off-course, settling so far from its natural range.

Read More

Quintessential Events of Island Summer: It's Time for Illumination

Even things that first dazzle the imagination with their shine and sparkle need substance to endure - like 135 years of tradition, fellowship and community.

Illumination Night on the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs, heralded in sing-a-long lyrics and ornamented with close to a thousand glowing paper lanterns that rim the Tabernacle and swing from the roofs and porch fronts, is a demonstration of the contagious spirit of the Camp Ground community.

Read More