I know what I’m having for Dinner.

IMG_3826I was driving to the post office this morning to collect a bagful of catalogs that surely had amassed while I was off-island for the holiday. That’s when the phone rang in my purse.

Bluetooth notwithstanding, I decided to find a place to park and settle in for a chat. I chose the harbor because sitting by the water is a perfect start to any day.

There wasn’t much to see on this Monday after Christmas: a few pickup trucks in the parking lot; four of five empty boats tied to the pier, barely bobbing on the calm sea; the hazy sun trying to peek through clouds that threatened to turn gray. Weather predictions were for a bit of sleet and freezing rain, the first of the season so no one could complain.

After a few minutes, a small white boat appeared; a young man in full yellow slicker regalia (pants and jacket) steered it to the dock. Two other young men also in full regalia (though they’d selected orange) leapt from the boat and tied it up. Then their work began.

In perfect harmony (They’ve done this before, I thought. Like every day in season), they hoisted one large plastic tub after another from the boat and carried them to two waiting pickup trucks: a silver one, a black one. That’s when I saw the contents: scallops.

Yum.

I finished my call and drove off on my post office mission, very much aware of the decreased number of vehicles on the road (I saw three in a mile-and-a-half), and of the increased number shops that now had CLOSED signs in their windows. I made it to my destination (love all the cards, folks, thanks!), then headed down Upper Main Street back toward home . . . until I reached the fork in the road at the Edgartown Seafood store.

And there it was: a silver pickup that I’d swear was one of those that had been at the dock. Imagine that. And I’d swear there was at least one less bucket of scallops in the pickup bed.

I smiled, pulled over, and snapped this pic (sorry for the gray sky) to serve as a reminder that I should go back around 3:00pm and pick up dinner. I think those beauties should be shucked by then.

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The Cards are in the Mail

IMG_3819I have been terrible at sending Holiday Cards over the past few years. Well, okay, maybe over the past few decades. This year, I sent five. Oh, wait, I think it was six.

Sound familiar? I gave it my best shot, then I ran out of time. As I’ve said before, there’s too much to do, too many awesome distractions here on the Vineyard!

They were pretty cards. (I hope I don’t get sued for showing a photo of one here.) I used a red, fine-tip Sharpie and penned a brief, but hopefully meaningful message on each. With one eye on the clock so the cards would make the Postal Boat today (if there is one), I slipped them into envelopes and quickly added the addresses of the “lucky six.” I included my return address because I haven’t been here long enough for those nice people from I-have-no-idea-where to send me cute, imprinted labels.

Heading toward the post office, I drove along the beach road and waved “Hello!” to not one, but two, police officers who sat in their cruisers, about 100 yards apart, hugging the dunes in wait. They didn’t get me this time; I was in the happy spirit of the holidays, engaged in Christmas Present, pleased-as-punch to be on my way to send half-a-dozen good wishes for the first time in too many years. It was a small act, but I was proud.

After I passed Bend-in-the-Road Beach (I love that name), my gaze dropped to the cards that were neatly stacked(?) on the passenger seat beside me. That’s when I realized I had stamped the envelopes not with decked-out Charlie Brown and Snoopy, not with a lovely Nativity Scene, not with festive Christmas ornaments, but with . . . Elvis.

Okay, so maybe a black and white photo of the King of Rock ‘n Roll is not exactly appropriate. If only it had a slight blue cast it might have been acceptable. (Remember that mournful song?) But there I was, my stack of look-at-me-I-actually-sent-out-Christmas-cards-this-year peering up at me not with the reverence of the season but with smoky eyes and a curled lip. Hmm.

I decided to get over myself. I made it to the post office, dropped the loot into the slot, wished a few folks Merry Christmas, and headed home.

To any of my friends or family who did not receive a card, please know you are absolutely in queue for next year’s mailing. Until then, I am sorry, but Elvis has left the island.

I Wore a Santa Hat!

FullSizeRenderI first stepped inside the Edgartown Library the day after Thanksgiving 1995. Wow! Twenty years ago! I was there to do research for my 4th novel, PLACES BY THE SEA, which later turned into one of my 6 (almost 7!) books that take place on this magical island.

Back then, I knew no one here. I stayed in an Inn across from the library on North Water Street. Each day, I spent hours in the library’s tiny research room, making notes at the round oak table under the big Boston fern. I did not have a laptop (not sure if they existed yet), but I had lots of pens and a few notebooks. After the third day, the librarians called me by name.

By late afternoon, I walked a block down the street to The Newes, the congenial pub at the Kelley House. I ate lunch by the fireplace, scribbling notes of characters, plots, and the charm of the Vineyard.

Over the years, I came and went from the library (and The Newes!) many times. When I spent the winter of 2010-11 here, I sat nearly every day at that round oak table. By then I wasn’t sure I could write a “Vineyard book” unless I was parked in my favorite spot.

Soon the big, new, beautiful library will open, and it will be magnificent, though a bit bittersweet. But in the meantime, there was the “Christmas in Edgartown” parade to tend to.

When Lisa Sherman, the Library Director, asked if I wanted to walk with them down Main Street alongside their “float” (actually, a decorated dump truck), handing out cards for “Fine-Free” days and tossing candy into the crowd, I jumped at the chance. After all, I owe them. I happily donned the Santa hat and, with every step on the parade route, I was reminded that without the library, I might not have had such a long and wonderful writing career.

I only hope that when they move to the new building, someone remembers to bring the big Boston fern.

Happy Holidays to all!

Reason #14,327

churchOkay, so here’s Reason #14,327 why I moved to the Vineyard: simplicity.

As most of us know, it’s the holiday season. And though we don’t have a Mall or a Target of even holiday versions of McDonalds’ milkshakes (if they have them, and my old marketing sense tells me they must!), we definitely have the spirit.

Everywhere you go on the island, you are aware of the scent of freshly cut evergreens. Everywhere you go you see sprigs of holly and little trees made of boxwood. You see signs for church fairs and crafts fairs and plates full of homemade cookies in the libraries and shops. You see festive lights along town streets and signs for the Red Stocking Fund that helps provide gifts for island kids.

This is a photo of a church in West Tisbury…note the green wreaths with red bows…see what I mean about the simplicity? A few bells, but no whistles. Holiday spirit without the glitz. It’s infectious, it really is.

Of course, this coming weekend will be “Christmas in Edgartown,” complete with the lighting of the lighthouse, special shopping, carolers, and, yes, more cookies (and hot chocolate). And, don’t forget the parade! I’m hoping that again this year Santa will arrive in a Coast Guard Life Boat on wheels. Hope to see you all there!