We’re three days in and having a wonderful time. Not sure about doing this diary thing, but I want to remember everything we’ve done, and loved, and will do differently when we come back…though the last four words I don’t even want to think about yet!
There’s something about getting on the ferry and coming over that is magic, a true demarcation of leaving your regular life and resetting your pace. When we get to Wood’s Hole, we stop at Pie in the Sky bakery for snacks. It’s a stone’s throw from the ferry, a bustling place to pick up a sandwich or a muffin or an iced tea. This time, Melisa races to meet us on the boat, her hands full holding our lunch. The ferry folk wave her on board and the kids cheer.
Everyone on the ferry is in a festive mood, most standing on the prow of the boat, watching as West Chop comes closer into view. For whatever reason, we usually arrive in Oak Bluffs and depart from Vineyard Haven. Driving off the ferry over the clap clap clap of the wooden dock, all eyes are on the scene in town, the streets crowded with people strolling, talking, sitting in restaurants, eating ice cream. We pass the Flying Horses carousel as we come in, which automatically elicits pleas to stop and ride and play the games. But we press on: first stop, the package store by the harbor to pick up a cold bottle of rosé for later. The store is filled with boaters gathering provisions: cheeses, crackers, wine and beer.
Next, it’s on past the back side of the MV Camp Meeting Association gingerbread cottages. It’s almost Illumination Night, and the Camp is full, the cottages sitting with arched doors thrown wide, windows open, and porches of people rocking in wicker.
Illumination Night close-up from Meg Pier and the Boston Globe
Through the woods, with glimpses of the Lagoon flickering brightly through the trees, prompting shouts of “view!” every few feet; to the blinking light, one of the only traffic lights on the island.
Now, it’s the turn Up Island towards West Tisbury/Chilmark/Aquinnah. The drive is marked by low stone walls, battered mailboxes bleached by sun, wood-shingled houses and gardens of hydrangeas and Black-Eyed Susans. We drive through West Tisbury, past Alley’s General Store and the old Grange Hall where we’ll look forward to the gorgeous farmer’s market on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Alley's General Store, West Tisbury
And then, we’re at the turn-off! A dozen mailboxes, standing in a row, mark the one-lane dirt road. We wind through the woods, shaded by mossy trees, and remark on the drivers who just as easily give way to let us pass as we do them, raising their hand in a casual wave as they go by. No one seems to feel entitlement to own the road here.
We get lost, and end up at an make-shift art show in someone’s shed. The three attendees, wine in hand, are disappointed we aren’t there for the art, but give us directions back. Turns out we missed the turn off for our “street;” not hard to do since it is marked only by a foot-high wood plank driven into the ground.
We bump along, turn left at the second drive-way in, and we’ve made it at last! Our gray wood-shingled cottage is in front of us.
Home Sweet Home!
Our proprietress happens to be at her house – the big house- and rushes over to introduce herself and welcome us before jumping in her car and driving off. We’re alone, and we head inside to explore before beginning to unpack the car and make the house our own.
What will happen while we’re here? I think of our usual haunts: the pretty beach at Squibnocket, the lobster roll take-out dinner at the Community Church, fried oysters at the little food shack in Menemsha, catching crabs and watching the surf, building sand castles and finding new things to see and do. This year, we’re excited to be here for Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs, the culmination of a summer of “camp meetings” when the gingerbread cottages in town are lit up by Chinese lanterns, and for the Ag Fair, or Agricultural Fair, in West Tisbury. The kids will love the games, the animals, and the food.
Following the rails into Vineyard Haven harbor.
With all of this still before us, I’ll close. More to come…